December 2000 Handshake I-dition

The I-dition (Internet Edition) of the Handshake does not always include all articles published in the printed edition


The President's Corner

By Bob Worthy

Expectation: to look forward to, as likely to occur
Participation: to take part or share in some activity, enterprise, etc.

The Holiday Season is upon us and hopefully the New Year will bring, to each of us, the best it has to offer. As you can imagine, December's normal workload is burdened by added responsibilities, such as shopping, decorating, social activities and events, visiting relatives, additional cleaning, cooking and then the well deserved collapse into the overstuffed chair when it is all said and done. Then there are those that are still willing to go that extra mile for you and your Association. Your Regional Directors held the scheduled December meetings in their regions. Training classes were held as scheduled all around the state and booths are being sold, already, for next year's convention. An ordinance committee met with the new Palm Beach County Sheriff to discuss a rewrite of that county's dreaded ordinance. The Executive Committee held its first meeting, in Orlando, with the Finance Committee to prepare a budget for 2001. This is the type of dedication that the membership can expect from the Board of Directors in the year to come. Thank you to the wives and husbands of the Board of Directors for their understanding during this busy Holiday Season.

It is very common for new or future members to ask, "What can I expect by being a member of the Alarm Association of Florida?" That question is becoming increasingly easier to answer. The answer is "member benefits". When a company decides to become a member of the AAF, there is only one choice left to make and that is, "Should I actively participate or should I sit and wait for the benefits to come to me?" Participation is the key. To receive the benefits, you must use the tools provided to you by the AAF. By participating, you will find that you and your company will be kept informed on key legislative and licensing issues. The most current training class schedules are faxed and/or e-mailed to members throughout the state. Mandatory on-line CE updating to the ECLB for your license renewals will be in effect and the AAF is ready to do it for you. A website full of information and developments including advertising, company information and links to your favorite vendors is at your fingertips. A well-trained competent staff is always available to answer your everyday questions.

In 2001, the AAF will have a bigger and better convention than the last featuring new and exciting vendors and products to see. You can participate by attending the regional meetings for free CE's, come to and participate in the convention and by getting you and your employees trained through the AAF. Pick up the phone and communicate, to us, what is going on in your area so we can relay it to others. Be pro-active and get involved if and when you are needed in local ordinance development. Speak with your local legislators as a businessperson and as a member of the AAF. Talk with other members about the industry or call the office and share your views with us. Read the Handshake. It is a source of valuable information and advertisement. Submit an article or human- interest story. The list of benefits that you, as a member, can receive and offer goes on and on. Participation will keep you on the inside track, so, don't be caught on the outside looking in. Make the AAF part of your business plan for 2001. You may be surprised at how the AAF can fulfill your expectations.

In closing, the first regular Board of Directors meeting will be held on February 5th in Jacksonville at the Fire Convention East. Board Meetings are always open to the membership. Anyone that is interested may attend by obtaining details from the AAF office.

Board Member of the Month: My selection this month is Mary Galloway. Mary is the Regional Director for the Broward Region and is very active in the fire industry. She is always looking for new ways to keep the regional meetings interesting and is always bringing education to her local members. She is on the Finance Committee and will be instrumental in working with your Treasurer, Ed McDaniel, to present the balanced budget for 2001.

Regular Member of the Month: This is a triple-header. Brenda Zeller of Mellon Security and Ray Yauchler of Active Security are two key reasons for the Scholarship program's success last year. As I mentioned in my first article, the Scholarship program gave away three scholarships at the last convention. Also, there was a $1,000 cash give away at the convention. The cash prize was won by David Donnelly from Central Alarm Control. He immediately donated the entire prize back to the Scholarship Fund. Thank you, Brenda and Ray, for your dedication and thank you David for your generosity!!

Associate Member of the Month: My Associate Member of the Month is Systems Depot and Randy Hall. Systems Depot is a great supporter of the AAF and Randy is one of two Associate Board Members. Systems Depot has graciously opened their doors and donated training space, as have other Associate members. Systems Depot along with Elk Products has offered to help the AAF with a great incentive to help in a membership drive for the coming year. Thank You Systems Depot!!

Public Safety Member of the Month: My Public Safety Member of the Month is Officer Angela Casper of the Miami-Dade Police Department. Officer Casper has been a long-time supporter of the AAF. She has recently worked on and had adopted a new alarm ordinance for Miami-Dade County, who probably has the largest concentration of alarm users in the State. Officer Casper has made sure that the AAF members in Miami-Dade County are always aware of and included in the Department's objectives. She is always a welcomed visitor to our regional meetings and State conventions. Thank you and congratulations, Angela, on a job well done!!


WELCOME NEW MEMBERS

Absolute Protection Team
Centex Home Team Security/Ft. Myers
Complete Low Voltage Systems, Inc.
Complete Protection
Delta Technologies, Inc./Gainesville
Delta Technologies, Inc./Tallahassee
Fyr-Fyter, Inc.
Horizon Technology Group
Innovative Security Solutions, Inc.
Innovative Security Solutions/WPB
Integrated Security Systems
MILCOM Systems Corporation
Milton J. Wood Fire Protection
Pro Tech Alarm Systems/Naples
Professional Security, Inc.
Ronco Electric
Safe & Sound Systems
Security Networks LLC
Security Tech, Inc.

Associate Members
SLP Direct/Security Leasing Partners
X-10 Pro


FROM THE DIRECTOR'S CHAIR…..

So the holidays are here and the end of the year details, accounts and last minute neglected items take precedence front and center. As we close out this fantastic year of 2000 I am reminded of the tremendous fear and turmoil that was predicted one year ago by those 'media-know-it-alls'. Yes, my computers were going to crash and my records would disappear and all the world would cease to exist as I knew it.

All because some dim-wit forgot about programming clock software into my computers. Well the end of the year came and went; and as much as I hoped and prayed that the world would end so that I did not have to go to work, once the Super Bowl was over, it was back to the 'salt mine'.

And what a salt mine it was. This Association had one of the best years it has ever had. I am happy to report that our membership, training and budgets are at an all time high. Not only that, but the people who have been involved have stayed involved and are now bringing others to the table. This is very much a re-dux of our current theme. The reason of course is that the survival of this Association, the lifeblood of its existence is 'grassroots' involvement.

For years we have depended over and over again upon those few good people to step forward and take their place in this industry to lead and to act upon the issues of the day. Over and over again these folks have responded and NEVER failed to make their mission a success. Whether it was fighting the purview of politicians, the policy of police departments or the unjust re-tax on licenses our members have come together, united and put our concerted effort into making the world right for our dealers.

Along the way we have come to know each other better and to have fun once again in the hardest parts of our work. For it is in knowing each other and working together that fosters the success we enjoy and promotes the Alarm Association's mission - 'to effect professional standards for the alarm and low voltage industries through education and training programs; and to advocate a code of ethics to protect the public safety and encourage the prevention of false alarms'.

I want to thank all of the Members, Officers, Directors and Staff for their tremendous dedication, work and support during this past year and look forward with anticipation to working with all of you this coming year. Please accept my most sincere wishes for all of you to have a safe and prosperous New Year both for your families and your professions.

Bob Neely - Executive Director, Alarm Association of Florida


Insurance With Assurance

Selecting an Insurance Company with a High Financial Rating
By Rick Janis and John Williams

Why is selecting an insurance company with a high financial rating so important?

During the past 15 years we have seen a dramatic reduction in the costs of all lines of commercial insurance coverage. If you kept records for that long, most of you can compare your premiums today in 2000 with those in 1985 and easily see that they are less than what you paid for the same coverage 15 years ago. There are several reasons for this situation ranging from more competition among insurers to the fantastic financial returns that have been attained on Wall Street.

Insurance companies are in business to make a profit just like most other businesses. We say most because the "dot coms" of the world seem to be in business to lose money. However, with the returns on Wall Street shrinking during the last two quarters and the recent financial problems of several insurance companies, we believe that selecting an insurance company with a high financial rating is extremely important and will become even more so in the future.

There are two rating agencies, Best and Standard & Poor, whose reliability seems to be the best to follow. Best, as well as Standard & Poor, provide an ongoing rating service for insurance companies. In view of the financial changes of Wall Street, it will be very important in the future to purchase your insurance from an "A" rated company, "A" obviously being a top rating.

An insurance company with a lower financial rating may go out of business a couple of years after you sign with them or even a number of years after you decide to go with another insurance company. Here's the catch. Not every insurance claim is brought to someone's attention in the year it occurs. Some claims are not known about until several years later so it is very important to have an insurance carrier whose financial condition spells longevity. An insurance company that has gone out of business certainly can't cover your claim.

There are some provisions for that type of circumstance. All States have "Guaranty Funds." These funds provide coverage for state policyholders that were covered by an insurance company that has gone out of business due to financial difficulties. Keep in mind that these funds only cover policyholders that have purchased coverage from an "Admitted" Insurance Company. There is an easy way to check. If your policy does not have a "Surplus Lines Tax" you have coverage from an Admitted Market.

However, some of these "Funds" provide only sub-limits. For example, in Connecticut the Guaranty Fund would only respond for $500,000 in Limit. Even if you had been paying a $1,000,000 limit for a number of years, you would only have half the limit available if your insurance company went out of business.

As you renew or purchase coverage in the future we recommend that you discuss the financial stability of your carrier with your Insurance Agent, Broker or Company. Given the changing economy, we suspect that more companies will experience rating reductions in the near future.

Rick Janis is a Certified Insurance Counselor, who developed a comprehensive insurance and bonding program for alarm dealers and monitoring companies through ACE, USA Insurance Companies. He is CEU certified by NBFAA and gives CEU courses to the alarm industry on General Liability/Errors and Omissions and Worker's Compensation. He can be reached at 800-474-0933 or by fax at 800-240-0631. You may also e-mail it to alarminsur@aol.com.

John Williams is a Licensed Insurance Consultant as well as Senior Vice President for S.H. Smith and Company, who manages the ACE, USA program. He may be reached at 800-356-0168.

Do you have an insurance question for Rick and John? Fax your question to 800-240-0631. You may also e-mail it to johnw@shsmith.com.


NBFAA Releases Debuts Marketing Materials Including a New Logo

Silver Spring, MD. In an effort to represent the current and future needs of the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA); maintain member allegiance and pride, and position the association for appropriate growth, NBFAA is pleased to announce the association is releasing new association identity and marketing materials, including a new logo.

In November, NBFAA debuted its new logo on its Web site, www.alarm.org. A new design for the association's bi-monthly newsletter, Newsline, will debut with the November/December issue. In addition to the logo and the newsletter, throughout the course of 2001, NBFAA will release new communications materials including advertisements and brochures.

Members can begin using the logo on materials. However, it should be noted, the logo can be implemented gradually on materials to reduce costs. NBFAA will also be following the above course of action to reduce costs and use member's dues wisely. Members can download the new logo and logo specifications at www.alarm.org/members_only/Members_Only/New Look/new_look.html. The color version of the logo is two colors, red, PMS 186 and blue, PMS 280. The font used in the logo is Eurostile Bold. For further logo specification, see the logo specification sheet on the Web at www.alarm.org. "Our industry has evolved through time and will continue to do so. NBFAA's new logo and marketing materials reflect this evolution. The designs are modern and well-represent NBFAA's mission to represent the electronic systems industry," said NBFAA President Bart Didden.


Florida Department of Professions and Electrical Contractors' Board Institute New Licensing Regulations

An AAF Editorial

All Florida license holders had better sit up and take notice of this one because it will hurt deeply if you fail to comply. This past year the Department of Professions did a random audit of ALL professions statewide to see how well voluntary compliance with CE renewals was getting along.

Not such good news. Fully 40% (that's forty percent) WERE NOT in compliance with the Department's wishes in voluntarily renewing their licenses through continuing education courses. So the State of Florida said definitively "Enough is Enough!" They are launching an enforcement program that will effectively once and for all put out of business those who have skated on their renewals.

From December 2000 forward all course sponsors will now have to provide to the Department electronically the results of any courses taught, the hours and those attending immediately after the course. These results will then be assigned to the accounts of those various license holders who attended the course. If at the end of the two-year renewal cycle you do not have the proper breakout of 14 CE hours, it will not be a matter of paying a fine. You simply will not receive your license.

For those involved in alarm contracting, this means you must have according to Florida Statute 14 total hours, broken down the following way: at least 7 technical hours, 1 workers' compensation hour, 1 hour of workplace safety and 1 hour of business practice. The additional 4 hours are those of your choice as long as they are an approved ECLB course for such purpose.

What does this mean to Alarm Association of Florida members? As a member service the Alarm Association of Florida is offering both segmented CE courses free to MEMBERS ONLY at their monthly regional meetings. In addition we are offering to MEMBERS ONLY (for a modest fee) the full 14 hour course in one shot scheduled at various times and locations throughout the year. This course will be available to non-members at regular non-member rates.

We will transmit your CE's to the Department in a timely fashion as a member and also bank your CE's in the computer system at our office. When a member wishes to know the status of his or her CE's at any time they may call and obtain the status during normal business hours. In the future these services will be expanded to include your employees and their continuing education as well. We are undertaking the marketing of these courses aggressively both for the license holders and the technicians to insure that your company has the opportunity to be in full compliance with Florida law during each two-year cycle.

We are also partnering with manufacturers and distributors to promote their courses and sponsor tracking as well. This new 100% audit by the State of Florida is only one enforcement answer that many dealers have complained has been absent for years. This will force an end to those who have not played according to the rules set forth.


An Editorial Letter
To All Electrical and Alarm Contractors

As both an involved active citizen of our great state and Chair of the Electrical Contractors Licensing Board, I am strongly opposed to any merger of the Electrical Contractors Licensing Board (ECLB) and the Construction Industry Licensing Board (CILB).In the past 7 years, technology in the electrical industry has changed and progressed faster than any other industry. An average of over 1500 changes and additions have been adapted to the National Electrical Code (NEC) during each of its past 3 revisions.As you are aware, the transmission of data, security, telephone, health care and fire alarm signals are all components of the electrical industry. Without electricity, all government would shut down…without the ability to transmit data signals, all financial, business and communication centers would shut down…without proper installation of alarm systems, hospital patients are endangered, people are burned and thieves terrorize homes. Electricity is the unseen power that runs our homes, businesses, hospitals and space industry…it is also the energy, which transmits data, health, security and fire alarm signals.No one is more qualified than the Electrical Contractors who implement the installation standards to help regulate, monitor and administer the Electrical Industry.By diluting the Board through a merger, you will:
1. Loose the expert experience.
2. Limit the Board's capacity to promptly, efficiently and professionally handle the business of the electrical industry.The Florida Electrical Contractors Licensing Board is an established stand-alone consumer board with a proven record.The Board:
· Has maintained a positive cash balance since fiscal year 1993-94.
· Regulates a total of 18,833 licenses.
· Processes an average of 1,800 applications annually.
· Processes an average of 300 probable cause cases annually.
· Hears an average of 150 cases annually.
· Reviews an average of 200 Continuing Education Courses annually.
· Reviews and creates the examinations for the certified exams.
· Approves approximately 85% of the examination applications and 95% of business applications on the first review.
· Processes completed registered applications in an average of 3 working days.
Obviously, the ECLB is an efficient consumer oriented regulatory board that all Floridians can be proud of. A diluted board cannot maintain this record of service. I urge you to oppose the merger of the Electrical Contractors Licensing Board with the Construction Industry Licensing Board. Let your safety and professional efficiency continue to serve the citizens of Florida. Contact both your State Representatives and Senators today to voice your opposition to this merger.

Sincerely Yours, Arnaldo L. Abreu
Chair - Electrical Contractors Licensing Board
ALA/sle


A.A.F. REGIONAL REPORTS

Dade Region
Robert Rosen, Regional Director

The November meeting of the Dade Chapter was held at the ADI's airport office. Twenty-six people attended, of which each regular member in good standing will receive CE Credits for simply being there.

A sign-in sheet to gather email addresses was circulated so meeting announcements can be delivered on the Internet.

Russ Jones of Central Alarm Control arranged for catered food for all attending.

Convention highlights were discussed, including the generous contribution made by Dave Donnely of Central Alarm Control by returning a $1,000 raffle award back to the AAF Scholarship fund. Thanks Dave. What a Guy?

Miami Dade Police Department representatives, Officer Angela Casper and Lt. Scott Dennis were our guest speakers. They reviewed the proposed alarm ordinance amendments. This amended ordinance will require the Miami Dade alarm users to pay a registration fee and will change the civil penalties for violation of the ordinance. Several significant changes were discussed as well. Dade County Commissioners will perform a final review of the ordinance amendments in December 2000.

Our raffle, which generated $70.00 for the region, included a 7845C Long Range Radio donated by ADI.

Jose Ferrer and Danny Gago of ADI generously offered the use of their conference room as a meeting location for future meetings. Thanks for supporting the Dade Chapter, ADI!

The next meeting of the Dade Chapter is January 9, 2001. If you have any questions or comments you can email them to centuryalarm@aol.com.

Robert Rosen, Regional Director

Pensacola Region
Anthony Bailey, Regional Director
Peggy Rossmoine, Secretary

The November meeting was called to order at 7:15 p.m. with 10 people in attendance.

Ron Toole discussed the outcome of the convention and the plans for next year. Plans are already looking up for the next year with 3 vendors already signed up to exhibit. Attendees agreed that the key to a successful association is participation. This discussion branched off into a discussion of privatization of the industry and the pros and cons of that action. Attendees agreed that this is something we as an association need to continue looking into so that we are not placed under the Electrical Board with only one vote for the alarm installers. Ron then brought to the table some news from the Association. He reviewed the bids for the building sale and the reasons for the sale.

Attendees discussed upcoming training courses for the region. A NTS Level 2 class will be held December 8th and 9th. Call the AAF for further details.

Ron notified those present of the budget review meeting for the Executive and Financial Committees in Orlando in December. He also suggested we try to attend the upcoming Board of Director's meeting in February that will be held in Jacksonville at the Fire Rescue East Expo.

Caralee Gibson, a member of the Code Enforcement Committee, then presented a desire for standardized permits across Florida. This issue was passed around for thoughts. The main concern at present is the "pool alarm" rule. Attendees all agreed that the need for pool alarms is evident. 50% of all child drownings happen in backyard pools but the statute needs to be rewritten to be more specific. A discussion on how the terms - doors, openings and gate were used interchangeably and how "small child" was not defined. The discussion then branched off into the fees to pull a permit and that some counties are charging a base fee plus a per-opening fee. Ron reminded us that the lobbyist for the Association is looking into privatization and that could help us change the way the statute is worded or interpreted.

Everyone congratulated Ron Toole on his election as Vice President of the Association. Because this will mean a busy schedule for Ron, an election for a new Regional Director was held. Anthony Bailey was nominated and unanimously elected as Regional Director. The Pensacola Region congratulates Anthony on his appointment and offers their support in the upcoming year. Peggy Rossmoine was elected as Secretary for the region in October.

The next meeting is January 9th at the same time. The meeting adjourned at 8:15 p.m.


Broward Region
Mary Galloway, Regional Director

The December meeting was called to order at 7:10 p.m. with 19 in attendance. Mary Galloway announced that the Broward Chapter will again be offering CE classes at the meetings in the coming new year. It was also announced that license holders need to fill out the new registration form for this renewal period.

Drew Lockner from Worker's Compensation Medical Center (Tenet South Florida Health Systems) spoke briefly on being there for our members. They have two walk-in centers in Dade and two in Broward County. After dinner, Drew continued his presentation with locations, services and the procedures thay have.

Mary announced the upcoming FASA/BASA class and another one coming up in January, along with a mention of the NICET Prep Course. It was reported that over 40% of all trades were not in compliance with CE credits. There will now be electronic tracking of CE credits and they will go into your account. If at renewal time you don't have the 14 credits, your license will not be renewed. Make sure that any courses that you take are good toward renewal because some members took courses where the sponsorship had lapsed and the credits were not given. We need 14 credits; 7 technical, 1 Worker's Comp, 1 Safety, 1 Business and the rest of your choice of the approved classes. The meeting was adjourned at 8:40 p.m..

West Palm Beach Region
Ron La Fontaine, Jr., Regional Director

The December 14th meeting was called to order with 15 people in attendance.

The members discussed working with the new Sheriff on amending the new ordinance. Committee volunteers will include the following; Bill Zeller, Carl Davino, Roy Pollack and Ron LaFontaine, Jr. A discussion regarding NBFAA and their position on the election followed.

The 50/50 drawing was $72. Bill Zeller won $36 but donated it to the Scholarship Fund along with an equal match of funds. Thanks Bill. Door prize Winners: Ron and Simon won crimp tools, Barry and Roy won wire/cable strippers all from ADI. Bill and Simon won a transformer from Security Lock Distributors. Our grateful thanks to Harvey from ADI and David from Security Lock for their generosity.


AROUND THE INDUSTRY

Ordinance Updates - False Alarm Ordinance Revision in Lakeland. The Bartow City Commission passed a bylaw with input from the local police department. The bylaw has several revisions that include increasing the grace period of fining for false alarms from two offenses to three, reducing the maximum fine from $500 to $250, and a no-response policy after the 12th false alarm. Also, if malfunctioning equipment is repaired and there are no further false alarms within a thirty day period, all fines will be dismissed. Since the initial ordinance, Lakeland has seen a decrease in false alarms - from 2,000 incidents annually to 736 false alarms last year. (The Network, December 2000, Volume IV, Issue 12)

New BellSouth Central Office Codes - Because telephone usage in many areas is at an all-time high, new central office codes (the first three digits of 7-digit phone numbers) must be introduced to accommodate the growth. Whenever new codes are introduced, most business telephone systems must be upgraded to allow calls to be placed to the newly established numbers. The same is true when area codes are introduced. If your company has a PBX system, these code additions are your responsibility and should be made promptly to keep your telephone equipment up-to-date. The new exchanges in area code (321) are 236 - Kissimmee, 485 - Sanford, and 844 - Melbourne. In area code 904, 470 is the new exchange and in area code 954, 322 is the newest Hollywood exchange and 828 is Ft. Lauderdale's newest exchange. These new exchanges became effective in November and December so if you have not made the appropriate changes to your equipment, you should do so now.


MARK YOUR CALENDAR


ISC WEST - Las Vegas, Nevada - April 1- 6, 2001
NBFAA Meetings: April 1-3, 2001
Electronic Systems Institute: April 4-5, 2001
ISC Expo: April 4-6, 2001

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