April 2001 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

Foresight: thoughtful regard or provision for the future; prudent forethought.

Since my last letter, the AAF Legislative Committee has been on the road for the members. We have covered the highways and airways to meet with State Representatives and Senators at their local offices and again at the State Capitol in Tallahassee. The topics of discussion were, naturally, about the AAF's position on the legislative issues that are proposed and/or will affect our businesses. These issues have been well published. If you are questioning what these issues are and our current position on each, please call the AAF office, attend your next regional meeting or contact your regional director. The good news, thus far, is that the major concern of the industry, the journeyman issue, was defeated in the House Committee meeting. This is a victory for the industry in the first round of a long battle. The second round is due to come up shortly. Win, lose, or draw, there will be a third, fourth and possibly a fifth round to go. So don't hang up your gloves on the issue just yet.

The next issue, regarding continued representation on the Board, is coming up. In meetings with the Representatives and Senators, we are fairly confident that the industry will be able to maintain our current number of representatives on the Board. We have a bill that will secure this position. This bill, so far, is a popular bill and is being received by all parties as a workable proposal. The bill is friendly, to the industry, as is Representative Bennett.

Executive Director, Bob Neely, the Immediate Past President, Roy Pollack, the Secretary, Norm Mugford and myself just returned from the NBFAA's first Board of Director's meeting of the year. As a Charter States Member, the State of Florida has a seat on the Board with two Board votes. The meeting covered many topics from finances to committees to the present and future relationship between SIA and CSAA. False alarm issues and the Model State Ordinance development were a continued discussion. The main discussion of the entire meeting was the journeyman issue. We heard that this issue was a national effort by the electrical industry and primarily spearheaded by the Unions. However, we did not realize, until speaking with representatives from some of theother states, just how real and how large this movement really is. With the discussions we had and the outcome of this movement, the State of Florida's low voltage industry is going to need a lot of foresight into this issue. This will not only need to be addressed by the membership of the AAF, but by the entire low voltage industry. I will be addressing this issue with more detail, in a President's Letter, to every member of this Association, individually.

Board Member of the Month: My selection this month is Robert Rosen. Robert is the Regional Director of the Miami-Dade region and is the owner of Century Alarm in the Miami area. Robert stepped forward and accepted the huge responsibility of heading up a region that has the largest number of alarm contractors in the state. He worked closely with the Miami-Dade Police Department, represents his membership well and is an asset to his region and the AAF. Thank you Robert!!

Regular Member of the Month: My selection this month is every member in the State that took the time to contact his or her Representative or Senator, either by phone or by e-mail, concerning this year's legislation. When the call went out for support, you were there. This is the grass roots effort that had been lacking in the Association for along time. This year's battle is not over and we will need your continued support. Thank you! Thank you!! Thank you!! You do not realize what a difference it makes when you enter a meeting and that State Official knows that you have the support of the industry behind you. You make the difference. Keep up the good work!

Associate Member of the Month: My selection this month is Steve Creasey of ADI in Clearwater. We all know how our local distributors support the AAF and our appreciation goes without saying to them all. However, there are special individuals within those organizations that deserve our special thanks. Steve has supported the AAF and our members for many years. He has given us the ability to hold after hours training, false alarm seminars and has worked out a schedule so that his employees can participate at our conventions and be a part of the Board of Directors. This has made a difference in the success of the AAF. Thank you Steve!!

Public Safety Member of the Month: My selection this month is Lisa Sprano. Lisa is the Alarm Coordinator for the City of Orlando Police Department. Lisa is very involved with the false alarm reduction effort for her department. She has taken that extra step to become involved with one on one communications with the alarm dealers in her area as well as communicating with out-of-state companies that do business in her area. This goes a long way to build that ever so needed relationship between the industry and public safety. Thank you Lisa!


FROM THE DIRECTOR'S CHAIR…..

article not available at time of publication

Bob Neely - Executive Director, Alarm Association of Florida (Visit our website @ www.fla-alarms.org to download your registration forms today!)


Consumers Stand to Lose If Legislation Passes

By Greg Gracer, AAF member since 1988

The House Regulated Industries Committee recently voted to reject an amendment introduced by certain electrical contractors in Florida. The language of this amendment simply stated, "Florida counties may require the presence of an electrical journeyman at each job site where electrical work is being performed" - This regardless of whether the work was already supervised by a qualified, licensed, low voltage contractor who is certified by the State of Florida.

The language of this amendment and its sponsored Senate Bill #1248 would supercede certification already sanctioned by the State of Florida which allows EF, EG, and a host of other low voltage electrical contractor categories and their employees to work.

While this amendment (which is part of an ambitious plan nationwide) was handily defeated today, do not expect that it is gone for good! The word is that this legislation has already done damage to the alarm industry in California and Washington State. Similar bills have crippled several companies in those areas who are unable to employ "journeymen."

Those of us who make a living installing security and fire alarms are greatly concerned with the ramifications of this on the electrical industry. As with any proposed new law that is under consideration, three basic questions should be asked by those who are about to cast their ballots affecting the future of Florida businesses. Asking these questions can help determine if the Bill is worthy of becoming law.

First, is the Bill needed? What situation is so critical and far reaching that it requires a new law?

Second, is the Bill going to be effective? Will it remedy an otherwise critical situation that cannot be addressed some other way?

Finally, is it fair? Will everyone (or at least the majority of citizens) touched by the effects of this bill, benefit? Will it cause any undue hardship on anyone?

If we put this Bill 1248, or any other version of it to the test, I believe we will find it does not pass muster.

Is it needed? Is the intent of the bill to protect Florida consumers from wiring that is being done by unqualified persons? It need not be layered over requirements presently in place for the alarm industry in the State of Florida. The alarm industry already has recurring training requirements mandated by Florida law.

Fire Alarm Service Agent and Burglar Alarm Service Agent (FASA/BASA) courses, which were designed to specialize

training for installers and service technicians in the alarm industry, go far beyond any incidental education journeymen would receive on alarm systems. What do journeymen generally know about the various causes of false dispatches? Over five thousand alarm agents have been trained in this program and are working professionals in the Florida alarm industry today.

Consequently there is no need to supervise the work, at least with regard to licensed alarm companies, of those who have met existing Florida training requirements.

Will the bill be effective? We need to know what the objective is (at least the implied objective) in addressing the issue targeted. How does it benefit the consumer or the citizens of Florida? At present it increases both the cost of administration and labor to the consumer geometrically.

Is this bill fair? In a word… No. This law will force already qualified contractors to seek the redundant qualifications of another trade! This, for work Alarm Contractors are already state certified to do. Electrical contractors and alarm contractors provide separate business services and products. The fact that we both use wire is one of the few common elements.

In general, it would appear that some electricians have the notion they are missing a bounty of work that involves "wiring". This is a blatant attempt to create a singular supervisory position controlled through an entity neither trained nor tested on the product.

It's fairness to consumers will also be questioned when qualified alarm contractors presently providing quite adequate security and fire systems, will be unable to find or recruit journeymen. Similar bills have already driven alarm contractors out of business in California and Washington State. When this begins to reduce the level of qualified companies providing security services in Florida, with prices rocketing through the ozone layer, both consumers and contractors will lose.

If some in the electrical industry want to jump into the abundant low voltage business opportunities in our economy, we invite you to. But please qualify yourselves through certification under present Florida law. It is only in this manner that we compete on a level field professionally with beneficial results for the consumer.

Remember that security and fire systems involve more than pipe, wire and revenue…they directly affect people's lives. Let's keep the level of professionalism in Florida that's certified and already in place.


REGIONAL MEETINGS

Broward Region
Mary Galloway, Regional Director

The March meeting was called to order at 7:20 p.m. with 20 people in attendance. Bob Worthy spoke to the membership about the Scholarship Program (AIFF), what's happening this year and who can qualify for the scholarship. The AIFF is a true charitable trust, totally separate from the AAF, and is run by people on a volunteer basis.

There is a new False Alarm Ordinance being worked on in the Tampa area. A couple of meetings have taken place with much success.

Florida is looking to develop a partnership with the police departments to provide contact lists where the police can get in touch with someone in the company if there is a problem with a specific customer's alarm.

Bob Neely discussed legislative issues affecting our industry. He also discussed the budget and told us that the AAF has trained over 5,000 people.

A Convention and Trade show schedule was distributed.

Ron Davis from SAI will be the guest speaker in May and will talk about the future of the industry.

The Palm Beach Sheriff has come back with a re-write of the ordinance. Rates, fees and fines were discussed. It was reported that Pat Kenny is not connected with the alarm unit any longer. Any registered Burglar Alarm Contractor can install smoke detectors or heat detectors onto a burglar alarm.

The Department of Community Affairs has taken the job of informing of building codes. There will be 4 hours required this year but next year it will be part of the 14 hours of training. Workers Compensation exemptions may be going away so you won't be able to exempt 3 officers and directors. A motion was made and carried to adjourn the meeting at 9:10 p.m.


West Palm Beach Region
Ron LaFontaine, Jr., Regional Director

The March 8th meeting was called to order by acting director pro tem Bill Zeller, filling in for Ron LaFontaine on leave of absence. Fifteen people were in attendance.

There was a briefing from Bob Neely, Executive Director, regarding the proposed changes in Workers Compensation Insurance in the legislature this year. After considerable debate regarding the merits of exemptions for Officers and Directors, or the proposal thereof, a straw vote was taken of the members. They were evenly divided regarding the merits of retaining or removing exemptions as they are. The Legislative Committee will be advised of this vote and the resulting decision, not to take a position at this time either for or against. This in view of the fact that no one so far has produced a meritorious argument to do anything but allow the exemptions to remain unchanged, or if you will status quo.

Since this issue is hot and we must advise our lobbyist as soon as possible, then the Legislative Committee will be advised of this result. They will be asked for proactive arguments for and against, but they must be submitted in writing no later than 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 9, 2001 to the AAF Office for any decision to be relayed to the lobbyist immediately.

Bob Neely also briefed the members as to the current state of proposals regarding the reduction or possible elimination of the ECLB and also the journeyman's bill introduced by Senator Jim King (BS1248). The members will be asked to respond to their legislators in a timely fashion, when informed by the lobbyist, regarding the situation as to our position on the issues.

Bob Worthy and Bill Zeller informed the members that there will be a Board of Directors meeting in Orlando on April 28th at the Renaissance Orlando Airport Hotel. All are welcomed to attend. It was also announced that Ron Toole has sold almost half of the booths necessary for the next convention in October.

Roy Pollack briefed the members present on the latest status of the Palm Beach County Ordinance and the fact that it is pretty much resolved at this time with the best results we could hope for until a further review is done at some distant future date, if ever. He emphasized the outstanding cooperation that Sheriff Bieluch has exhibited in his working with the Association. The members expressed their appreciation. Door prizes were drawn from both ADI and Silmar and the meeting was adjourned at 8:435 p.m.

Respectfully Submitted,
Marv Tucker


Pensacola Region
Anthony Bailey, Regional Director

The March 13th meeting was called to order at 6:55 p.m. There were 15 in attendance. Everyone had been given a copy of the minutes from last month's meeting to review. There were also handouts for FASA class on March 17th and 18th and copies of the Email from Bob Neely concerning the False Alarm Reduction Network.

Attention was brought to the fact that in June, July and August we will meet on the third Tuesday rather than the second Tuesday.

The convention is October 11-13th in Orlando. Thirty booths are sold. Training will be held on Thursday and Friday and will include; Structured Wiring, False Alarm Training and Intercoms. You should be able to get all your CE's at the convention. If you don't, you can always opt for the two-day pay course. There will be cash prizes, food and drinks on the trade show floor this year as well as a social hour. If you know of any vendors who might like a booth, let the association know.

Ron Toole brought to the table three bills that are about to go through legislation.
#1. Journeyman. For the electrical industry a journeyman would be required on every job site. A journeyman is someone with two years of education or four years on the job. The association is trying to stop this bill from going through or at least add a provision allowing that industry training could be used instead.
#2. Workmen's Comp. The bill is proposing to do away with the exempt status many small businesses have. Currently businesses are allowed three exemptions. However, some companies have broken the "rules" by having 12 people on a job site and breaking themselves into four companies and thereby making everyone exempt without having separate licenses or permits for each company. It was questioned, "Why not ENFORCE the laws we have rather than write new ones?" Discussion was held on this and how the ECLB should be working with the insurance companies and checking licenses on the site. The option of an exempt status should be there for everyone, but the abuse needs to be handled with ENFORCEMENT not legislation. The association is working with the lobbyist to fight this. If this passes, an exempt company would have an additional $2,500 expense per $40,000.
#3. Where will our industry be placed? Governor Bush is implementing a one government plan. In doing so he is cutting 101 professional Boards, this includes the Electrical Board. "What is the reason for doing away with the Boards?" The answer was to save money. There was discussion on this money savings and what it would mean to public safety. Ron told the group that when you get a fax or an email on these bills, please respond. There will be specific information as to who to call and what the Association's views are. It will take everyone to fight these. Ron said there is a meeting next week with the lobbyist on this. We believe we have time as those bills are just now coming through to fight them, but if something gets fast tracked we will need to be ready to respond quickly. Anthony asked Ron, "What are the gut feelings on this?" Ron stated that the lobbyist believes we need to keep the ECLB, keep the exempt status and forgo the
journeyman. Robin Griffith stated that the same thing is happening in the Fire Alarm Industry, there is a bill that will require NICET certification or Fire College for inspectors of Ron said the Association is also trying to get the ECLB to standardize permit fees. The Association is working very hard for its members and the lobbyists are keeping us informed. Just remember when the notice comes to act, please do it for the industry.

Fred Swanson then brought to the table the problem of ENFORCEMENT. His question was basic, "What is the phone number of the person who can and will do something when someone is obviously breaking the laws we have put in place?" In lengthy discussion the group spoke of their own problems with inspectors, officials, the ECLB and the CBPIR. Inspectors have told installers to be versatile. Each inspector on any given day inspects each system differently so it is the luck of the draw as to which set of rules you have to abide by. Inspectors have told installers that it is in their discretion to read the law as they see fit, even when blatantly against current statutes. The Chief inspectors seem to know their job, but the inspectors in the field have no answers, Companies have pulled permits for jobs and then another company has installed the alarm without pulling their own permit. EZ licensed companies are installing fire alarm systems. "Free" systems are being sold. Permits are not being pulled for low voltage. All of these things have been reported, but it seems no one is able to do anything about it. No one seems to be ENFORCING the laws as they stand currently. Ron told the group the association is working for its members. As we get through the next few months and past the three bills that have come up and we insure that the ECLB is still there, then we can begin to put some BITE back into the laws that are there. Currently the laws have no real teeth to them. He suggested that if you have specific problems to get them to him and Bob Worthy and they will address them with the Association. As far as training for inspectors, the Association is currently working with the State Fire Marshal to come up with standardized training on statues and what they need to look for on every job site. Discussion continued on the need for ENFORCEMENT and personal experiences through dinner and after. The next meeting is April 10th and Visonic will be stopping in to show some new equipment. The meeting was adjourned at 8:30 p.m.


Northeast Region
(Quarterly Meeting)

The March 13th meeting was called to order at 7:05 p.m. by Norm Mugford, AAF Secretary. The Pledge of Allegiance and the prayer were dispensed with since the meeting was held in an open area of the restaurant.

The upcoming legislation was the main topic for discussion for the evening. The group was informed of (1) ECLB may be reduced in members, (2) journeymen may be required on all jobs, and (3) Workers Compensation exemption may beeliminated. Norman reported that he and a few other AAF Board members would be going to Tallahassee next week to meet with House & Senate members. All were encouraged to call, fax, or e-mail their Representatives to voice their opinions. Many small voices make one big voice.

The CSAA, SIA and NBFAA are proposing a one-organization policy. Norman will be attending some of the meetings at the ISC Show and asked the general consensus of the members.

E.J.Fleischmann, Richard Kuhn, Norm Mugford and Linda Mugford won door prizes provided by Systems Depot and ADI. Our sincere thanks to those who support the AAF.

With no further business at hand, a motion was made and seconded to adjourn the meeting at 8:30 p.m.


Insurance With Assurance

Choices in Paying for Insurance
By Rick Janis and John Williams

What choices do I have in the ways I can pay for my insurance and what should I look at when choosing the best deal?

Just as there are many insurance companies to choose from, there are also a number of choices available in paying for your insurance.

First - and it might seem silly to say this - but you must pay for all policies in U.S. dollars. Although, surprisingly, several years ago there was a service that could arrange for customers to barter services and goods for the premium rather than pay cash. Since you probably won't be trading your services or products, you've got to focus on dollar amounts and take a good, long and hard look at the economics of each policy.

Some carriers require the premium to be paid in one payment, usually within the first 30 days of the inception date of the policy. If the premium is in excess of $1,000, paying the total amount up-front can be difficult for some buyers. That's one reason some insurance agents and companies will offer financing options. Keep in mind however, that the interest rates on these finance plans can run anywhere from 9% to 24% depending on the amount of the premium that is being financed.

Here's where you have to be careful. Let's say that Insurance Company A offers you a premium for $5,000 but with no finance charges. Insurance Company B proposes a premium of $4,600. At first it might seem that Company B has the better deal. However, tucked into Company B's Finance Agreement is $700 in finance charges over a one-year period. In the long run, when you add in those finance charges, it turns out that Company A is less expensive. This is why when you decide on purchasing from an insurance company you should read the Finance Agreement so you'll know the dollar amount you will be paying in interest charges. Then do the math. Most of these plans are usually spelled out in deposit and payment amounts only so that's why it is important to read or ask up front what the interest rate is. So, even though this is an interest charge, you should still view it as the total cost of the insurance policy and use the total figures when comparing prices.

Some companies offer payment plans, instead of finance charges. These payment plans can differ in the number of payments depending on the cost of the premium. For premiums in excess of $10,000 they are usually 20% down with six to eight equal payments. With premiums in excess of $25,000, some plans will have eight to eleven equal payments. Some carriers charge a payment fee that ranges from $4-$10 per payment. Some carriers do not charge any fee.

Wherever you buy your insurance coverage, make sure you ask for all the details regarding payments. As you can see, there are a number of options available but additional charges can sometimes add almost 25% to the cost depending on your choice of insurance company and payment. Do the math and then decide what works best for you.

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.


Optional Mileage Rates
Updated For 2001

The IRS has increased the optional standard mileage rate used by employees, self-employed individuals, or other tax payers who need to compute the deductible costs of using an automobile for business, charitable, medical, or moving expense purposes. The new rates apply to costs incurred on or after January 1, 2001, and are as follows:
· For business transportation expenses incurred for business purposes, the standard mileage rate is 34.5 cents per mile.
· For an automobile used to provide free services to a charitable organization, the standard mileage rate is 14 cents per mile.
· For an automobile used to obtain medical care or as part of a move (in which the expenses are deductible), the rate is 12 cents per mile.


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