Loudoun County, VA Implements ASAP

Technology Increases Accuracy and Reduces Response Times to Alarms   

Loudoun County became the twenty-ninth PSAP (Public Safety Answering Point) in the United States and the second in the Washington, DC area to go live with the Automated Secure Alarm Protocol (ASAP), a technology that allows alarm companies to transmit alarms to both the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office and Loudoun County Fire and Rescue communications centers without making a phone call.

This week data from residential and business alarms can now be transmitted electronically, allowing dispatchers to process an alarm in a fraction of the time it would normally take to process an alarm via telephone from an alarm monitoring company. “This new system will eliminate call volume from alarm companies and transmit alarm information to our emergency communications center in three seconds,  ultimately reducing the response times of first responders,” said Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman.

ASAP will not only improve the accuracy and the speed of emergency response times, but eliminate potential human error and miscommunication between 911 dispatchers and alarm monitoring company operators.  “In any emergency, response time and accuracy is critical,” said Chief Keith Brower with Loudoun County Fire and Rescue. “By directly transmitting the information all pertinent information goes directly to Loudoun’s first responders within seconds,” added Chief Brower.

Loudoun County went live with the ASAP program at 9:45 a.m. on Tuesday, October 10, with Vector Security. By the end of the day, Affiliated Monitoring, Rapid Response, and Protection One were live, with Guardian, Vivint, Monitronics and ADT expected to quickly follow.

ASAP was created in partnership with The Monitoring Association (and the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO). Fore more information, visit ASAP. 

Call to Action – The Threat to Central Station Service

A Call to Action from TMA Executive Director Jay Hauhn

TMA members participate on Standards Development Organization (SDO) committees in the development of standards that impact our industry. Despite our best efforts, SDOs occasionally adopt standards language that is harmful to TMA members. Such standards actions can also restrict the service provider preferences of fire and security practitioners, or, may not be in the public’s best interests. When onerous language is enacted, it is crucial that TMA has a strategy to work within established SDO processes to respond appropriately.

TMA members, your immediate attention to a current situation is requested. Three years ago the 2016 edition of NFPA 72, The National Fire Code, was modified to include language that negatively impacted NRTL-listed Central Stations. The language in the code was amended to support municipalities that prescribe through an alarm ordinance what monitoring entity is allowed to monitor fire alarm signals in their municipality. More often than not, that is a single monitoring facility owned or contracted by the municipality. Our effort to overturn this change to the 2016 National Fire Code was unsuccessful.

NFPA 72 is updated every three years. A proposal was submitted by a TMA member to amend the 2019 edition of NFPA 72 to allow NRTL-listed Central Stations to monitor fire alarms without unfair obstruction. The technical committees responsible for the 2019 edition of NFPA 72 have essentially completed their review of changes to the code, and our member’s proposal was rejected. TMA plans to contest this at the June 2018 NFPA event.

It is important to note that standards typically define a minimum requirement. Allowing a higher level of performance that exceeds the minimum requirement is the normal practice. It is unusual for language in a standard to require that a higher level of service require specific approval. This is particularly onerous given that NRTL-listed Central Stations are the gold standard of fire alarm monitoring.

If you are a NRTL-listed Central Station, this issue directly impacts the life safety services you provide your customers. TMA’s effort at the 2015 meeting was defeated as the issue was unfairly portrayed as usurping an AHJ’s authority. We must have sufficient TMA representation at the June 2018 NFPA meeting to contest this action. Our effort to amend the 2016 version of NFPA 72 failed because TMA did not have sufficient representation attend the 2015 meeting and vote.

If monitoring fire alarms is part of your business, you should consider your presence mandatory at the June 2018 annual meeting. Without your attendance, fire alarm monitoring by NRTL-listed Central Stations can be significantly curtailed!

TMA member companies need to send associates to the NFPA meeting in June of 2018. In order to vote at the June Technical Meeting, the attendee must have been a member of NFPA for six months. NFPA membership is an individual membership, not a company membership. The annual cost to belong to NFPA is $175 per individual.

Preparing for action is not complicated

While we know that our member companies all have employees that belong to NFPA, we do not have a database that reflects the names of the actual NFPA members. It is impossible at this time to determine how many members will attend. We will be working to compile that data.

To vote at the 2018 meeting, an attendee must have been a member of NFPA by December 1, 2017.

Please assure that your current employees who are NFPA members renew their membership for 2018 by December 1, 2017.

Join or renew NFPA membership now.: http://catalog.nfpa.org

Please have additional employees join NFPA by the December 1, 2017 date. Joining does not mean the employees will be obligated to attend the June meeting. However, the six month membership requirement requires joining NFPA by December 1. Being proactive is only $175 per employee.

The 2018 NFPA meeting is in Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay. Las Vegas is an inexpensive travel location if you plan ahead. Many attendees stay at Luxor and Excalibur where rates are typically under $75 a night. There is a tram between those hotels and Mandalay Bay. Most attendees there to attend the voting session will only need to stay one night.

TMA needs to track participation. Please provide Celia Besore, TMA’s vice president of membership, with information on your current NFPA members, as well as information on those who have joined as a result of this Call to Action. TMA will release updates frequently between now and December 1. You can reach Celia at 703-242-4670 x18 or cbesore@tma.us.

Thank you for your support and action.

Jay Hauhn
Executive Director and CEO
The Monitoring Association