Magazine article American Banker

Flagstar's Trying to Set off Alarms with Lobbying Drive

Magazine article American Banker

Flagstar's Trying to Set off Alarms with Lobbying Drive

Article excerpt

Many bankers spend time in their state capitals and in Washington lobbying legislators to pass laws supporting the banking industry.

Executives at Flagstar Bank in Troy, Mich., went to the mat for a different type of bill: one that would require smoke alarms in all Michigan households.

A team of Flagstar executives headed by Gary Burkart, first vice president and national advertising manager, helped Republican State Sen. Shirley Johnson draft the bill last year.

"Although there have been ordinances in every Michigan county requiring smoke alarms in new buildings built after 1974, a lot of homes in the inner cities are much older, and little babies were burning up in fires there," Mr. Burkart said. "We just thought it was too important not to do anything about this."

Ms. Johnson said that banks rarely work so hard for a bill not intended to directly benefit the banking industry or individual states' business climate -- and it is unheard-of for a bank to actually initiate the process.

"Gary Burkart and Flagstar Bank really broke new ground when they contacted my office in hopes of partnering to get this legislation introduced and passed," Ms. Johnson said. "By helping steer this legislation, Flagstar really demonstrated their commitment to the community and their care for its greater good."

In 1999 the subsidiary of the $12.8 billion-asset Flagstar Bancorp started a Safety First program. The fire-safety brochures it distributes in its branches under the program include specials for the holiday season.

"Cooking, candles, Christmas trees -- all the wonderful things we associate with the holidays -- also can be fire hazards," Mr. …

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