Two recent actions in the state of Illinois point to a disturbing situation that the security industry needs to pay close attention to: Fire departments setting up monitoring centers for signaling services. Our industry should oppose this move for several reasons.
We have faced this issue for burglar alarms in several jurisdictions across the U.S. The principles we applied in those cases should also apply to fire. First, public institutions like local governments (fire departments) should not be in the business of competing with the private sector. The two entities have entirely different roles. The private sector provides goods and services for profit. Government serves the people they govern.
SIAC supports the fire services provided by departments and their critical role in protecting public safety. But, clearly there should not be “competition” between city agencies and the private sector.
Secondly, a government agency does not have the experience or expertise to operate a monitoring center as effectively as a privately run business. What equipment use, how to handle signals effectively and filtering calls are all areas of expertise the security monitoring industry lends to the equation. Fire Departments are not trained or knowledgeable in these areas. A city monitoring center would not be adequately prepared to address the nature of the workload.
Finally, if cities decide to get into the fire monitoring business, they face increased liability issues. By going outside their primary services, they raise the potential for lawsuits from customers.
We understand the need for local governments to have a steady resource base to support the services required to protect their community. But these cities should reconsider moving into the fire monitoring business. Our industry must continue to monitor this, and engage local officials, to ensure the best decision is made that weds public protection to the business services we offer.
What’s your opinion? Let us know by responding in the comments section of this blog.