Legislation being proposed in Illinois and backed by the Illinois Association of Fire Protection Districts has the possibility to impact the security industry in Illinois and cause a ripple effect across the country, according to a statement issued by the Electronic Security Association.
The proposed legislation would give fire protection districts the right to create a profit center. ESA and the Illinois Electronic Security Association (IESA) believe the profit center would allow the fire protection districts to build central monitoring stations. Such a move would effectively place private alarm dealers in direct competition with public entities, ESA stated. It also provides incentive for municipalities, needing to boost their budgets, to mandate that all fire alarms be directly connected to the fire protection district.
Some municipalities and fire protection districts have already passed such mandates.
The city claims, “This is in order to reduce response times and maintain better oversight of fire alarms, it is important to have fire alarms directly connected to the City’s dispatch center.” The city also claims that by having their systems directly connected to the city’s dispatch center, businesses can save approximately $44 per month in monitoring fees.
This ordinance, and ones similar to it in the Illinois cities or towns of Naperville, Algonquin, Northbrook, Hoffman Estates, Highland Park, Lisle/Woodridge, Elmhurst, Wheaton and Woodstock, threaten to create a monopoly of the fire alarm monitoring business, ESA stated.
A federal lawsuit led by ADT and including four other Illinois alarm companies challenged the ordinance, “asking the court to prevent the District from terminating valid fire alarm monitoring contracts or otherwise taking over the alarm companies’ lawful business,” stated ADT. “A federal court judge has made a preliminary ruling that the contracts customers signed with the District are null and void and customers can now choose which company they prefer to use. The court’s ruling is preliminary, not final, and is subject to appeal.”
ESA and IESA are calling upon all security professionals in the state of Illinois to help with the effort to keep municipalities from taking over private dealers’ fire alarm accounts. To get involved, contact IESA executive director Kevin Lehan at (630) 305-8800.