Magazine article Security Management

An Updated UL Alarm Certification for DISP Contractors

Magazine article Security Management

An Updated UL Alarm Certification for DISP Contractors

Article excerpt

For the past several months, Underwriters Laboratories (UL), in conjunction with the Defense Investigative Service (DIS), has been reviewing the alarm certification process for cleared defense contractors.

Since the mid-1970s, the Industrial Security Manual (ISM) has required that supplemental alarm systems be UL-listed. In other words, all alarm system components and system installations must meet applicable UL standards before the system can be approved by DIS. Depending on the type of system and operating environment, numerous standards and certificates can apply-UL Standards 365,611,639,681,1076, 1610, and others.

Until 1989, compliance was demonstrated by displaying a valid (current) UL certificate issued by either a UL-listed commercial central station or a UL-listed alarm installation company, or by producing a letter from a non-UL-listed installer. The letter affirms that all components of the system and the installation procedures met applicable UL standards.

The March 17, 1989, ISM prohibited contractors from using non-UL-listed alarm installers in order to bring alarm installations under the UL Field Countercheck Program. The program requires that qualified UL inspectors visit contractor premises to determine if the alarms have been installed properly.

It soon became evident that not all applicable UL standards had been met when alarm installations were done by non-UL-listed companies. The most frequent violation was noncompliance with the "hardening" requirements for a contractor alarm monitoring station.

For example, if a contractor was monitoring alarms at his or her facility, the monitoring area or room had to meet all the conditions of UL Standard 1076, including ensuring that the room or area was fully hardened against physical attack.

Since this requirement often had been ignored before 1989, UL-listed installers were correctly insisting that contractors meet all applicable standards.

But this caused new problems. Hardening is so expensive that DIS deemed it not cost-effective enough to insist on full compliance. Consequently, DIS began authorizing waivers to the requirement.

These waivers, however, prevented UL installers from issuing a UL certificate and thus from including the installation in the UL Field Countercheck Program -a catch22. …

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