March 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...

Regulation: to control, direct, or govern according to a rule, principle, or system

It is the time of year when our State Legislators pack their bags and head to Tallahassee for their annual tug of war with the opposite party, lobbyists, special interest groups, government bodies and the Governor's wish list. We, the public, hold our breaths in the hopes that whatever comes out of this process is somewhat friendly to the things that effect our everyday lives.

This year's session is out of the ordinary. Usually by now, everyone is busy with the issues and there is a definite direction to the process. Unfortunately, up to this point, we have a House and Senate sitting on their hands with only speculation about the direction of the Governor's office. This cannot continue as time is getting short.

We do know that the main issues that are being considered for the up-coming year have to do with how our State Licenses will be regulated. With the Governor's promise to down size the State government, it appears that our licensing will be regulated differently than we know it today. The lack of representation and being moved to a different regulatory board, other than the Electrical Contractors Licensing Board, is a major concern. If a Board merger is passed, which is very probable, our license will go to the Construction Industry Licensing Board and our representation will be cut to one person. Secondly, the journeyman requirement is back! For those of you that did not have to go through this dilemma several years ago, this is a requirement that will, if passed, require a journeyman electrician on every job. Are you prepared to hire journeyman electricians to compliment your staff? The Workers Compensation Exemption status is also in jeopardy. This, if passed, will do away with the exemptions and you will have to include previously exempted parties to your Worker's Compensation policy.

If these items are a concern to you and your business, obtain your State Representatives and State Senators e-mail addresses and let them know of your concerns about these issues. As a member of the Alarm Association of Florida, there is no better time to get involved and be heard than during the legislative session. The legislative committee members and your executive committee members will be walking the halls in Tallahassee. Please let us hear, from these legislators, that our members have contacted them directly.

Board Member of the Month: My selection this month is Norm Mugford. Norm is the Regional Director of the Jacksonville Region as well as the Secretary for the State Board of Directors. He is your Legislative Committee Chairman. Norm owns and operates Alarmpro, Inc. in the Jacksonville area and is very active in his community as well as all aspects of the industry. He is an asset to this Association, his region and the industry. I am proud to have him as such an instrumental part of our Board. Thank you Norm!!

Regular Member of the Month: My regular member of the month is Rick Lerch of Wayne Automatic Fire Sprinkler Company in Orlando. Rick has been a long time supporter and member of the Association. Having long-time members is always important to the Association. This leads to stability of the organization and needs to be recognized. We thank you Rick!!

Associate Member of the Month: My Associate member of the month is Shirley Harper of Independent Alarm Distributors of Florida. She is a member in Tampa, Florida. Shirley and Independent Alarm Distributors have continuously supported the Association and have been there for us, as an Association, and the alarm dealers in her area for many years. If you don't now Shirley, stop in and introduce yourself as a fellow member. Thank you Shirley for all of your support!!

Public Safety Member of the Month: My Public Safety member of the month is Assistant Chief Rick Lomack of the Hollywood Police Department. Assistant Chief Lomack is a supporter of the AAF and the security industry. He is currently working on establishing a new alarm ordinance for the City of Hollywood. Prior to establishing the ordinance, it is his goal to learn as much as possible about the industry. This will help produce an ordinance that will be effective in reducing false alarms, unnecessary dispatches and have public and industry support. Thank you Rick!


FROM THE DIRECTOR'S CHAIR…..

At one point in time during the legislative session in 1977, Mike Fletcher (Past President and MVP of this organization) found out almost by accident that a guard service company wanted to pass a law regulating alarm industry contractors. The reason was simple. There were no licensing laws at the State level and this guard company wanted to place themselves out front as the only legitimate alarm company to be able to operate at the State level.

They would then have been 'large and in charge' as the only licensed alarm contractor in the State. Impossible you say? But wait…. it gets better. Mike hurriedly put out the word to our members who then challenged this proposed law at the grass roots level and we successfully held off this horrible legislation.

The following year we were about to be regulated again. This time it was the fire sprinkler people who wanted to place all alarm contractors under the thumb of the plumbers regulatory board. This in their mind made sense because, after all we ran wires to flow valves. What…..? Once again the 'grassroots beat the bushes' and we successfully endured the challenge.

And then the following year after that we were about to be stomped on by the Fire Marshal's office because they could not successfully place us in any other home. This was because someone, other than ourselves were bound and determined to regulate us no matter what. We 'were not capable of functioning on our own' and the legislators were coming to get us.

We were forced to hire our own lobbyist and become proactive in establishing our own state license before someone (who knows who) would pass a law regulating us. This is how we wound up with state licensing (in addition to the various counties and cities passing smothering laws and regulations). We worked hard and long to establish this license under the Electrical Board where it belongs and spent a lot of time, money and elbow grease maintaining it.

Now it may come to pass that state alarm licensing will be taken away. Some of you may be in favor of this, but be careful what you wish for. If this license is taken away, something more ominous will run to fill the void left by its absence (a state legislator mad at the industry, a local yokel who wants to get even with their mother-in-laws alarm company, etc.).

By the time you read this, we may call upon you to mount another grass roots effort to save our hard earned industry standards. When and if we do, please don't turn away. We need your help.

Check our web site www.fla-alarms.org for the latest information.

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


KICK THAT SLEEPING DOG!

BY: Ron Walters

Ron Walters is a Coordinator with the CARE Program and Past President of the AAF. He currently travels the country training alarm companies in false alarm reduction techniques as well as being responsible for assisting law enforcement agencies develop and implement alarm reduction efforts

The typical response from the alarm industry is that they would rather not see an alarm ordinance in their area. In fact, this attitude is not unique to Florida.

In every area that I've gone across Florida and the United States I hear the same thing.

The industry is convinced they have a good working relationship with law enforcement and law enforcement tells me that they are upset by the seemingly lack of action by the industry in dealing with the false alarm problem.

Currently Florida is training the False Alarm Network, or FAN. The FAN, is part of a national effort to train local people throughout each state in alarm reduction and how to assist the law enforcement community in passing new alarm ordinances. Yes, you heard me right, assist in passing legislation, not learning how to fight it.

The FAN teams are made up of industry members and representatives from the law enforcement community. The industry will be represented by local dealers, a member representing the national companies, and in some case's members from contract monitoring companies and suppliers.

Each FAN team is taught the key elements of successful alarm ordinances, as well as the techniques that make up a successful reduction effort within a company.

FAN brings together everything that has been learned over the last 10 years in various efforts such as Model Cities and Model States as well as the Model Alarm Ordinance and the SIA Control Panels Standards. Using these labors as our historical backup, they will assist any agency or jurisdiction in developing, passing and implementing a false alarm reduction effort with a good ordinance as the cornerstone.

If you are operating in an area that doesn't currently have an ordinance, we encourage you to approach the local Chief or Sheriff and talk to them. In fact we have a survey that they can complete. Forward this information to the FAN Committee through the AAF and not only will the team take action, they will involve you in the process.

Experience has taught us that regardless of what you think; your police are considering action(s) to get some relief from the false alarm problem. The question is do you want law enforcement to develop their initiatives without input from the industry? The answer is a resounding NO!

So take our advice, "KICK THAT SLEEPING DOG" and get to work!

The FAN team in Florida is working under the direction of the AAF's FARE Committee. Carl Davino is the Committee Chair and thus will coordinate all Florida activities. You can reach Carl through the AAF Office or at his email bcdavino@aol.com.

If you are interested in taking a more active role and are capable of committing up to two hours per week, please forward your contact information to the FAN through Carl Davino or Bob Neely.


IMPORTANT NOTICE!

As we enter this year 2001, it has come to our attention that many of the technicians who are in your employment are due to have their two year 6 hour renewal courses in order to re-certify under the state statutes in Chapter 489, Part II for Fire Alarm System Agent (FASA). If they fail to certify timely under the 6-hour refresher course, they then unfortunately must re-enter by certifying under a full 18-hour entry course.

Please check the expiration date on your employee's certification BADGES and make sure they are current and that there is adequate time to take the 6-hour renewal course PRIOR TO EXPIRATION. Many will be notified by this office via regular mail. However, many have moved to other companies with no forwarding address and will not receive the mailing reminder. Please check our web site for the current schedule of training classes - www.fla-alarms.org.


INSURANCE WITH ASSURANCE

By Rick Janis and John Williams

What can I do if my insurance company won't pay my claim or goes out of business and I have a claim?

Because insurance companies face the same economic problems that all companies face, some do go out of business or are forced out of business by their respective State Insurance Departments. Other problems involve insurance carriers being acquired by other companies or a change in management.

Whatever the reason for a company not paying a claim or being unable to pay a claim, you do have certain options and avenues of assistance. You're ahead of the game if you had purchased your insurance through an independent insurance agent. With an agent, you have someone who can champion your cause with the carrier in a claims dispute. Plus, most agents are very familiar with the state laws that govern insolvent insurance companies. However, if you purchased your coverage directly from the insurance company you may have a little more difficulty.

First, let's talk about claim disputes. If your insurance carrier denies coverage on one of your claims, get it in writing. Never accept just the verbal word of the claim adjuster or examiner. Armed with this piece of paper you or your agent can now dispute with the carrier via mail or e-mail. If the claim is still not paid after exhausting all avenues with the carrier you may now turn to your State Insurance Department. They will require a copy of the initial claim report and any correspondence between you and the company. Most State Insurance Departments are consumer friendly so it should not take long to get your claim resolved. If these avenues of appeal are not successful, your final step is to consult with an attorney, preferably, one who has handled this type of case previously.

On the other hand, if your insurance carrier goes out of business due to insolvency, there is usually only one source of immediate relief, the State Guarantee Fund. Most states have some sort of Insolvency Fund. If your insurance was placed with an Admitted Insurance Company, you will be covered under the Insolvency Fund, although some states do limit the amount of liability the Fund would pay. An Admitted Company is one who uses filed forms and pays premium tax. A sure way to know if your Company is an Admitted Company is to look at your insurance invoice. If you were not charged a Surplus lines tax of between 2-5% your Carrier is Admitted. You would have to report your claim to the State Insurance Department or they would refer you to the Administrator of the Insolvency Fund.

When reporting a claim, always get proof of receipt. There have been many disputes in the past involving claims that were not paid by the Insolvency Fund due to failure to report.

If your Insurance was placed with a Non-Admitted Carrier (one who charged you the surplus tax) you'll get no assistance from the Insolvency Funds in most states. This is an important decision to keep in mind during your next renewal.

Making the right insurance choices in the beginning is always best. But if you do run into problems, you do have options and somewhere to else to turn when you feel you are not getting what you thought your premiums entitled you to receive.

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.


AAF REGIONAL MEETINGS

Pensacola Region
Anthony Bailey, Regional Director

The February 13th meeting was called to order at 6:35 p.m. with 9 in attendance. The reading of the minutes was waived since they were not present. There was no old business to address.

New Business - Jim Chrisan shared a flyer with the members that had been sent to his customers after changing monitoring stations. After some discussion it was decided to contact the member and to review the Association's Code of Ethics and how they might apply.

A discussion then followed on the region becoming proactive this year and addressing the problems apparent to everyone. Some topics discussed were EZ Licensees doing fire systems, local officials not responding to complaints or sticking to the laws that are already in place and "free" systems to a gullible public that does not understand that nothing is truly "free". Ron Toole advised the members that there will be a school for local officials in April with the help of Fire Lite and the Fire Marshal. This is planned as a weeklong event.

Ron next brought to the table the ECLB Meeting last week. He said the budget was discussed but is not quite complete. Travel has been cut and it was also noted that Gov Bush plans to cut 140 licensing boards in the state as a part of his "One Gov't" plan. We are waiting on legislation to see what will happen. The Lobbyists believe this will be a "fast track" action. This would mean that the alarm industry would still use licensing but we would either fall under construction or be privatized. Plans had been to go under the Fire Marshals but it appears they will be moved as well. We are currently waiting on more information from Tallahassee.

Anthony Bailey presented two companies for membership in the region. They are SECURE and US Security. After discussion of the companies, a motion was made and seconded to accept them into the region for membership.

Ron Toole discussed this year's convention at Sheraton World Resort next to Sea World in Orlando. It will be October 11-13th and 16 booths have already been sold for the Trade Show. A golf tournament will be held on Thursday and a truck will be given away for a "hole-in-one." There will also be numerous cash prizes and door prizes given away through use of a tradeshow card that would be stamped at each booth and then drawn from a hopper. Training sessions will be on Thursday and Friday morning so as not to interfere with the trade show, which will be on Friday and Saturday. Plans are in the works for a truck giveaway on the trade show floor. There will also be a ladies day and trips for the family. Plans are to make this an event to bring the family to. More information will be available next month.

The Association is trying to put together a "False Alarm Network". The training will be held in Tampa on Thursday. Bob Worthy will come to the region to train Ron Toole and Anthony Bailey who in turn will train the local members.

Membership is a big goal for the coming year. We need at least six new members including the two that just joined. It was also brought to our attention that public officials can join at no charge. It was reported that the combination of 5 different Associatons into one Association is at a stalemate. CSAA and SIA have sent out a resounding "NO" at their recent meetings.

A FASA training class will be held on March 9th and 10th. 50% of local technicians are not wearing their required ID's. All Technicians and salesmen must carry both a Fire and a Burglary ID. Training for this weekend was canceled because only three had signed up for the class. Everyone's renewal date is coming up this year. Plans are now in the works for a 14-hour course to provide you with your CE's. There will also be a 2-day course for make-up. It was noted that 18 CE's may be required if the Building Construction section is added, if so a separate 4 hour class will be set up.

AAF Board Meeting:
· The budget was discussed, voted on and approved. To the acceptance of everyone, we are now using an accrual method and it gives members a chance to see where the money is going and coming from. It was noted that Ed McDaniel is doing an excellent job on the budget.
· The Tallahassee building did not sell so a lease was renegotiated for 14 months at a higher rate. Currently, it has been tasked out to get three estimates to replace the roof on the building.
· A Lifetime Membership was brought before the Board for Ron LaFontaine and must now go before the General Assembly.
· There were no grievances. They were discussed on a local level. If there is a problem with another member you must file a grievance, which will go before the Board for review.
· The next Board Meeting will be April 28th in Orlando.

Peggy Rossmoine reported that during the months of June, July and August the monthly meeting could not be accommodated on the second Tuesday at the present venue. After discussion a motion was made and carried to move the meeting to the third Tuesday during those three months.

Ron Toole reminded everyone that memberships must be renewed by February 28th or they will be dropped from the books and would have to re-apply for membership. The next meeting is March 13th at 6:30 p.m. The meeting was adjourned at 8:30 p.m.

West Palm Beach Region
Ron LaFontaine, Jr, Regional Director

The February meeting was called to order at 7:26 p.m. with the Pledge of Allegiance. Bob Neely gave the invocation.

Brenda Zeller discussed the scholarship availability and offered applications to anyone that wanted one. Brenda briefly discussed the criteria for the application. Any questions or requests for applications can be directed to Brenda Zeller. Donations to the Scholarship Fund are welcomed.

Next there was a discussion on the merging of CSA/NBFAA/CEDIA.

Bob Neely gave an overview of the Board Meeting. Legislative issues were also discussed.

Roy Pollack gave a report on the PBC Ordinance. A motion was made to suspend the previous month's motion and a new motion was made to reject proposed ordinance, with a letter to the Sheriff's office listing our concerns. The motion was seconded and carried unanimously.

Door prizes were provided by ADI which were heartily received and distributed via the 50/50 drawing. The meeting was adjourned at 9:30 p.m.

 Do you have a notice you would like to share?  Send it to: handshake@fla-alarms.org