W. C. Fields, a lifetime agnostic, was discovered reading a Bible on his deathbed.

“I’m looking for a loop-hole,” he explained.  – William Claude Dunkenfield 1880-1946, American Comedian and Actor, (W.C. Fields).

 Now that the convention and show are successfully over for another year, I go back to the ‘routine’ that occupies my work day. I say ‘routine’ with tongue in cheek because there is never a day that goes by in this office that could be considered ‘routine’ by any stretch of the imagination. That is one of the great reasons that I love this job. There is an endless variety of issues that arise from the members, the public, public safety, the State and even our beloved Board of Directors.

The only certain thing about this job is the uncertainty of daily events that occur. One of the amazing ones that occurs on a regular basis is the person who calls this office and states that they have a question regarding either licensing or employee certification. The two most frequent questions begin with the phrase “Do I need a license if I am only installing (fill in the blank)?” and the other is “Do I need to certify my employee if they only do (fill in the blank)?”

Notice that the key operative word in each sentence is the word ONLY. In other words if they are ONLY doing (fill in the blank) then why do they need to have a license or why do they need a certificate? To turn a phrase it’s ‘because you do’. Not just because I say so. This was decided a long time ago by the state legislature with the backing of the public safety industries, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and also the Electrical Contractors’ Licensing Board.

We use a simple philosophy when these questions arise. If you run a wire (or wireless system) in the state of Florida then you need a license of some kind; either one issued by a local jurisdiction AND then registered with ECLB to become valid; or a state issued certificate allowing you to do the work you qualify for by examination. OR if you are under supervision by a license holder as an employee you MUST have a valid certificate for either burglar alarm system agent or fire alarm system agent with fingerprint and background check, or both.

The good news these days is you can obtain all of these on line at your convenience 24/7…NO excuses!

In the middle ages theologians had a field day discussing the splitting of ‘theological hairs’ with such questions as “how many angels would fit upon the head of a pin?” That scenario now becomes the parallel to the subsequent telephone discussion with follow up questions such as “Well what if I only run wire and do not install (fill in the blank)?” or “What if my employee only has contracts signed, but does not run wires?”…what if, what if, what if ad nauseam.

The person on the other end of the phone, whether they know it or not, is emulating W.C. Fields. They are looking for a ‘loop hole’…ANY loop hole to keep from complying with the law. Too bad! If they spent half as much time and energy complying with the statutes as they do trying to skirt them, they would actually come out ahead. But inevitably they come up with zany logic and come to the conclusion ON THEIR OWN that they do not need to be licensed or certified for any number of reasons. It is nice to be self sufficient. But that loop hole won’t prevent the law from reaching out and touching you eventually. Get in compliance. By NOT being in compliance you incur HUGE liability if an event occurs involving your services… AND it is the right thing to do.


Bob Neely

Executive Director

Alarm Association of Florida