Past NYFAA presidents attend the 10th anniversary gala. Bottom row (left to right): Tom Papa, Ken Gould, Stuart Gilbert, Zygmunt Staszewski; Top row (left to right): Ed Keshecki, current President Ron Petrarca, and Jeffrey Siegel. PHOTO COURTESY OF NYFAA

The New York Fire Alarm Association (NYFAA), Staten Island, N.Y., celebrated 10 years of success on May 14, 2014, with a gala affair at the Terrace on the Park, Flushing, Queens, N.Y., where nearly 250 guests gathered to honor the work of the approximately 119-member strong association. During the event, the association presented an award to each of the past six presidents, honored a recently deceased founding member, received an update on carbon monoxide ordinances, and reminisced with a slideshow of past events, meetings and charity outings.

The event was attended by honored guests from the FDNY Fire Alarm Inspection Unit, the FDNY Bureau of Fire Prevention Chief of Technology Management Battalion Chief Thomas Pigott, Nassau County Assistant Chief Fire Marshal Michael Uttaro and three fire marshals from Islip Township. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio cancelled regrettably the night before but sent a congratulatory letter the day of the event.

The guest list is an indication of the association’s success in working directly with the New York Fire Department and city government members and groups, who help NFYFAA members to navigate the often-complex rules and regulations of the city’s fire and building codes. NYFAA members come from a wide variety of industry-related businesses such as engineers, installation experts, electricians and monitoring central stations all working together for one goal — the safety and security of New York City and surrounding boroughs.

“We have members on the SDM 100 list,” Ron Petrarca,president of NYFAA, and director of Electronix Systems C.S.A. Inc., Huntington, N.Y., said. “But we don’t want to single anyone out – all of our members do great work.”It is a telling sign of the association’s success and recognition in the industry that only a decade ago, it was only a 35-member organization, and to this day, membership occurs most often through “word of mouth,” according to Petrarca.

The cooperation and communication between the association and the FDNY is another benefit for members. Edward Keshecki, NYFAA’s liaison to the FDNY, and senior fire specialist for Statewide Fire Corporation, Staten Island, N.Y., said, “When fire alarm industry issues arise they are usually brought to me and I take steps to clarify and/or resolve them.” Keschecki told SDMthat he believes the success of the association can be credited in a big way to the “excellent” educational offerings to its members and others. “We give them the opportunity to directly discuss matters with our local authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) and that we provide New-York-State-accredited CEU training presentations for our engineers and NICET CPDs for our NICET Certified members,” he said.

In addition, Petrarca added, “A wonderful by-product of the training and meeting has been a widespread network and the creation of friendships over many industries.” The importance of the work done by NYFAA members cannot be stressed enough, Keschecki said, “It is all about life safety.”

In order for the businesses to succeed, the members have to keep up with important fire and building codes to ensure the tens of thousands of fire alarm systems in NYC and the metropolitan area are following current codes. “Several of our engineer members sit on the NYC Building Code and Fire Code Committees and they conducted lengthy presentations at our meetings for our members and our AHJs. Their contributions were invaluable to the life safety industry,” Keschecki added.

Because of the positive relationships with the FDNY, NYFAA members have participated in the development of exams such as the FDNY Certificate of Fitness, which requires a technician to demonstrate knowledge in fire alarm, and a separate Certificate of Fitness for building owners to demonstrate a working knowledge of their fire alarm panel and their responsibility to have their systems inspected and tested as per code.

“We are extremely proud of our educational offerings,” Petrarca said. “They are a way for our members to stay current in their businesses.” When asked about the next decade, Petrarca replied, “I think in 10 years we would like to be in a place that is similar to where we are now; our members and our AHJs working together to insure the nest of life safety in New York City and the metropolitan area.”