Sitting in the board meeting on Thursday for the California Alarm Association (CAA) Winter Convention held in San Francisco, Dec. 9-11, 2010, there was a lot going on. There’s always business to be taken care of — minutes from the summer convention in Palm Springs to approve, a legal report of what’s happening in California, a legislative report of what’s happening in Sacramento, reports from all the local associations’ presidents, a report on the scholarship program…all the pieces of a organization communicating, staying on the same page, supporting each other and working together.
While I was listening intently to all of it (and typing away furiously taking notes on my computer), I really started listening when Stan Martin, executive director, The Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), Frisco, Texas, was giving the report from SIAC and he mentioned the fire monitoring situation in Illinois I grew up in Illinois, and you always listen more intently to news going in on in a place you know. It is serious, as Illinois municipalities eying any possible revenue sources are attempting to mandate that all fire alarms be directly connected to the fire protection district, cutting out the private sector and central stations completely. Other municipalities looking for ways to increase revenue following the recession will be watching closely, so early successful action by the alarm industry eliminates a snowballing problem.
Unfortunately, Martin also shared that a lack of funding for the year would prevent SIAC from taking further action in that situation. The organization’s available funds would need to be focused on alarms and maintaining the momentum it had in that area. That caught my attention. An organization like SIAC, which proactively fosters and maintains relationships with national and state law enforcement leadership, educates and empowers local alarm communities to proactively foster relationships with law enforcement before a crisis develops, and steps in to assist the alarm community whenever a harmful ordinances or potentially negative situation arise, should not be short on funding. Especially since the funding isn’t even for anything frivolous. There are no private jets or penthouse suites. Stan Martin and the SIAC staff work long hours because they believe in what they do, and the only way they get paid for it is through the support of the industry.
Fortunately, the next day, while I was sitting in the CAA general meeting, the CAA showed its support for SIAC and presented a check for $30,000 to SIAC. The money was donated by the members of the CAA and a matching gift challenge from Bay Alarm.  SIAC Executive Director Stan Martin accepted the donation from CAA Public Safety Liaison Chair Jon Sargent and CAA President Matt Westphal.
It is a positive donation, but more is needed. When presenting the check, Westphal summarized the importance of supporting SIAC.
“The SIAC staff is made of professionals, ready to go out and travel to cities to expertly address councils and law enforcement agencies. They skillfully present arguments against harmful ordinances, propose model ordinances, and do many other things that we need them to do as alarm companies so that we as individuals do not have to go and fight all the battles from start to finish. It costs money for them to do it, and we need to donate that money so that we don’t have to go out and do everything that they do ourselves, which would cost far more than it does to pay into the fund,” Westphal said.
“When you’re prioritizing contributions, SIAC ranks at the top due to the ongoing services it provides to the industry. If you go it alone, you’re responsible for attending many council meetings, communicating with many parties, and losing man hours of your own without SIAC’s help. Contributing to SIAC is like paying yourself. They’ll expertly fight the ordinances and unfair regulations for the industry and let you concentrate on running your business,” added Westphal.
I couldn’t agree more. In addition to good business, that attitude of collaboration and support is what the members of the alarm industry need to do to remain, like the CAA, a well-run industry that is communicating, staying on the same page, remaining proactive, supporting each other and working together.