A new bill concerning fire alarm monitoring installation, monitoring and maintenance was proposed by the House of Representatives during the Illinois 97th General Assembly on Feb. 9, 2011.

Titled Fire District Antitrust Exemption, IL HB 1301 would give fire protection districts in the state of Illinois the authority to mandate the use of fire alarm monitoring equipment "in order to improve the response time of the district's fire department to locations equipped with fire alarms thereby saving lives and property and promoting firefighter safety." The bill also states fire protection districts could establish and operate wireless radio networks and monitoring stations, establishing monitoring fees. Under this legislation, fire protection districts would be exempt from antitrust laws.

The Illinois Electronic Security Association has been fighting this initiative since late 2010, holding some of its best-attended meetings throughout Illinois to raise awareness of ordinances coming up at the municipal level that seek to wholly take over monitoring contracts and informing dealers on the possibility of state-wide legislation as well as the initiative spreading to other states.

IESA has issued a position paper on the proposed bill. It states the bill would "allow fire protection districts to engage in the fire alarm monitoring business" to mandate that everyone use the fire district's monitoring business.The paper contains a list of reasons for IESA's opposition, including a refutation that this bill is concerned with public safety as the private industry has the technology, infrastructure and national fire codes to address any safety concerns. IESA also points out several ways in which businesses - particularly small businesses - will be hurt by the legislation, and the bill's potential for allowing abuse of power, among others.

A summary and full text of the bill are available at the Illinois General Assembly website.

The IESA fact sheet detailing the association's opposition to HB 1301 is available here.