The passing of Anita Ostrowski, Vector Security

It is with a heavy heart that we share the news of the sudden passing of long time TMA member and revered volunteer leader Anita Ostrowski, vice president of Central Station Services for Vector Security. Anita died suddenly on Sunday, January 7th. At the time of her death, Anita served as the chair of TMA’s UL Committee and co-chair of the Monitoring Center Notification of Active Threat Detection (TMA-ATN-01) Standards Committee.

“Anita was not only an exceptional and highly valued volunteer within TMA, but she was also an extraordinary human being. Time and time again, I witnessed her openly and generously sharing her knowledge and experience with other monitoring center professionals while speaking and mentoring,” commented TMA CEO Celia T. Besore. “Her contributions to TMA education, standards, and the ASAP-to-PSAP program are immeasurable.”      

She joined the Vector Security team in 1985. In her nearly 40-year tenue at the company, she was dedicated to managing its award-winning monitoring center’s services. Her commitment to excellence won her two distinct honors from TMA. In 2008, TMA and SDM magazine presented her with the Monitoring Center Manager of the Year Excellence Award. TMA’s Immediate Past President Morgan Hertel honored Anita’s outstanding contributions to TMA standards and the ASAP-to-PSAP program with one of its highest awards in 2022 – the Mel Mahler Award.

Over the course of her career, Anita was deeply committed to alarm industry standards and actively participated in TMA’s development of ANSI accredited standards. As the chair for TMA’s UL Standards Committee, she worked with Underwriters Laboratories (UL) to update and adapt the standards to meet changing technologies. She also worked on the development of work-from-home requirements for monitoring center operators during the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure the integrity of professional monitoring, as well as sharing with the industry best practices that Vector had developed at the beginning of the pandemic. More recently, Anita participated in the development of TMA’s groundbreaking Alarm Validation Scoring standard (ANSI-TMA-AVS-01), which was released in January 2022.

In addition, Anita was also instrumental in the original development of TMA’s Operator Level 1 and Level 2, which has evolved into the gold standard for training monitoring center operators. She was a key member of the first TMA licensing group and a speaker at many TMA and industry conferences. She played an integral role in the implementation of the ASAP-to-PSAP standard across 911 centers from the very beginning.

The TMA Board of Directors, volunteer leadership, and staff join with the Vector Security family, our members, and many others across the security industry in mourning her loss.

Photo: (l to r) Pam Petrow, president and CEO, Vector Security; Anita Ostrowski; Celia T. Besore, CEO, TMA, at the 2022 TMA Annual Meeting where Anita was presented with the 2022 Mel Mahler Award  for her work in TMA standards and the ASAP-to-PSAP program. 

Creenan, Amherst Alarm, Elected Security Industry Alarm Coalition Chairman

Tim Creenan, founder and Vice President of Amherst Alarm and a long-time leader in the field of electronic security, has been elected chairman of the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC).

SIAC is comprised of four major North American security associations–Canadian Security Association (CANASA), Security Industry Association (SIA), The Monitoring Association (TMA), and the Electronic Security Association (ESA). Tim serves as the ESA representative on the board.

SIAC represents one voice for the electronic security industry on alarm management issues by communicating solutions and enhancing relationships with law enforcement.

“Tim’s unanimous selection reflects his commitment to SIAC’s mission and breadth of experience and leadership in our industry,” said outgoing chairman Kirk MacDowell.  “As treasurer, Tim demonstrated exceptional leadership as the finance chair steering the financial ship with precision and securing a solid foundation for the future.”

“Working with Kirk and our other board members has been a privilege,” said Creenan. “We will continue to move forward on our path of grooming the next generation of experts on our law enforcement liaison team and enhancing the fund-raising efforts to support SIAC’s important mission.

“While SIAC has had a great deal of success promoting the Model Alarm Ordinance in communities throughout the country, there are still many opportunities as we help promote the TMA AVS-01 standard, ASAP-to-PSAP and other technology to reduce unnecessary dispatches,” said Stan Martin, SIAC Executive Director.

Tim started in the electronic security field in 1975 working for a large locally owned security firm. Tim earned a degree in electronic engineering at State University College at Buffalo. In 1984 Tim and his wife founded Amherst Alarm, Inc., which today has more than sixty-five employees serving the Western New York market. Amherst Alarm is the recipient of the prestigious Police Dispatch Quality Award (PDQ). In March 2023, Amherst Alarm became part of the Pye-Barker Fire Safety family of companies.

Tim’s involvement in the industry associations began with the Western New York Electronic Security Association, where he served as Secretary, President and Past President. He has also served the New York State Electronic Security Association, as Secretary, Treasurer, Vice President, and President- during two different terms. He is currently Chair of the association’s Legislative Committee and was instrumental in leading the association’s efforts in reforming the enforcement policies of New York State’s alarm installer license. On the national level, he has served as chairman of the Election Committee of the Electronic Security Association, the Government Relations Committee, Governance Task Force and as member of the Board of Directors as the New York State Electronic Security Association representative. And is a past Board member of the Electronic Security Association. He is also involved in SIAC – Security Industry Alarm Coalition as a member of the board of directors as Treasurer.

In 2018, Tim was inducted into the Security Sales & Integration’s Hall of Fame.

Tim’s concern for the industry and public has kept him focused on reducing false alarms. This has led to Amherst Alarm’s certification in and his personal involvement in the Installation Quality (IQ) Board program, where he served as Treasurer, Chairperson and is currently board member.

TMA Dispatch – Winter Issue Released

The winter issue of the TMA Dispatch is now available for online reading and download.

This issue’s cover story reviews the year’s highlights in TMA programs such as ASAP-to-PSAP and key initiatives like standards. Catch up and learn how you can get involved in the New Year! Volunteering on a committee is a great way to meet other TMA members and to giveback to the industry.

Our guest column explores how AI and ML is being used to boost video for monitoring centers. See how these new technologies are impacting our industry.

Get to know a bit more about our new president and his plans for his tenure in the President’s column.

Interested in submitting an article? Advertising? Contact communications@tma.us for details.

A Look Back on 2023

Many thanks to each of you! With your support and participation, TMA has advanced the following initiatives over the past year:

  • The ASAP-to-PSAP service continues its exponential growth this year, with 135 active ECCs and plans to reach 140 by year-end. ASAP now covers over 15% of the US population, that’s over 50,000,000 people nationwide!
  • The 2023 Mid-Year Meeting was delivered virtually over the course of three days in April. Session topics covered business development best practices, cybersecurity, media relations, legal affairs, tech advancements and notable leadership and industry trends.
  • This year, TMA’s OPSTech program was held in Lafayette, LA where we elevated our meeting experience by holding the event at host-company Acadian Monitoring’s ambulance training school instead of a hotel, enriching our program with on-site tours, interactive workshop, and targeted breakout discussions. The new extended engagement platform meant that only 8 of the 12 sessions could be offered virtually.
  • Since January 1, 2023, we have sold nearly 1,700 online Operator Level 1 & 2 Courses, with 1,453 students having successfully completed courses.
  • A comprehensive upgrade of TMATraining.org has streamlined the process for training managers to bulk-purchase courses, monitor student progress, and navigate the electronic catalog, further enhanced by a partnership with The CMOOR Group to provide TMA members with discounted access to a state licensing tracking tool.
  • TMA is elevating alarm response education by developing three AVS-01 operator training modules, launching a dedicated domain, and publishing an influential white paper to drive industry collaboration and encourage adoption of the AVS-01 standard.
  • The NextGen group continued with its well-received Meet Your Mentor To date, co-chairs Ryan Brady and Jessica Lambert have conducted 11 video interviews with respected industry leaders. Stay tuned for more to come!
  • TMA launched the Louis T. Fiore Electronic Communications Scholarship in late 2022 to honor Mr. Fiore’s enduring contribution to the alarm industry and the Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC). The scholarship is intended to promote careers in electronic communications. Applications for the first presentation are now being accepted.
  • The 2023 TMA/SSI Marvel Award, in partnership with Security Sales and Integration magazine (SSI) was awarded to National Monitoring Center (NMC). The 2023 TMA/SDM Excellence Awards drew a combination of entries from small-to-medium and enterprise-sized member companies. 2023 winners included: Monitoring Center of the Year – Enterprise: CPI Security; Monitoring Center of the Year – SMB: Statewide Security; Monitoring Center Manager of the Year: Fiore Ayala, Rapid Response Monitoring; Monitoring Center Operator of the Year: Samantha Marzili, COPS Monitoring; and Monitoring Center Support Person of the Year: Brian DeCarlo, Rapid Response Monitoring. The application period for the 2024 awards opens Oct. 15, 2023.
  • TMA has published the spring and summer issues of TMA Dispatch magazine and 38 issues of TMA Signals weekly e-newsletter. Engagement in TMA’s social media communities, which include LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, have continued to grow in 2023.
  • TMA’s Board for Directors has approved the new dues structure proposed by the Membership Committee and TMA staff. The new structure is based on methodology that standardizes annual dues levels and dues increases. The revised structure ensures that the same standard is applied across similar membership categories. We are confident that it has resulted in positive changes for all current and future members. View the new structure HERE.
  • TMA continues to issue certificates for the FirstNet National Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN), with 54 companies participating in the program and 48 certificates issued so far this year.
  • TMA’s Installation Quality Certification Program “IQ Certification,” the only quality control program for installations, maintenance and service of electronic security systems is growing with 14 IQ-certified companies.

TMA would like to acknowledge and thank our many volunteers; your efforts allow us to succeed in elevating the professional monitoring industry. With your continued support and engagement, we look forward to another productive year.

Woodman, Former Washington Alarm President, Passes

We are saddened to inform you of the passing of John Woodman, former president of Washington Alarm and TMA Board of Directors member. A pivotal figure within the alarm industry, John passed away on Wednesday, November 22nd. 

John’s journey with Washington Alarm began in 1962, building upon the foundation laid by his father in 1943. His extraordinary dedication, coupled with a unique and indomitable spirit, propelled a modest fire extinguisher company into becoming Washington Alarm, now recognized as the 55th largest in the nation. His impact was profound and lasting. 

In 2012, John transitioned leadership of his company to his daughter Shannon Woodman, fulfilling his dream of passing Washington Alarm to the third generation of the Woodman family. A dedicated volunteer leader herself, Shannon currently serves on TMA’s Executive Committee as Treasurer.  

Please keep Shannon and her extended family in your thoughts and prayers as they mourn John’s passing.

UL Solutions Empowers Alarm Monitoring Centers to Help Advance Public Safety with New Certification Program

UL Solutions announced its new service, the UL Solutions Alarm Validation Scoring Certification Program, that helps security alarm monitoring centers in the United States improve communication with public safety professionals, such as law enforcement agencies and emergency response operators. The new certification program resulted from a collaboration between the security monitoring industry, public safety professionals and UL Solutions with the goal of enhancing security alarm notifications and information.

UL Solutions can now evaluate monitoring centers against requirements in The Monitoring Association’s (TMA) voluntary standard ANSI/TMA-AVS-01 2023, Alarm Validation Scoring Standard. This standard includes an alarm scoring or classification metric designed to streamline communication between monitoring centers and public safety professionals, leading to better prioritization of calls. The new UL Solutions certification program uses the alarm scoring system as defined in the standard.

“The move toward industry-wide standardization of security alarm notifications and response processes supports collaboration and efficiency between monitoring centers and public safety professionals,” said Karine Johnfroe, vice president and general manager of the Built Environment group at UL Solutions. “We work closely with The Monitoring Association and industry stakeholders to understand their needs and help address safety-critical challenges. UL Solutions’ new program empowers monitoring centers to demonstrate they are aligned with industry best practices for security alarm response procedures, which play an essential role in the success of public safety professionals throughout the United States.”

UL Solutions’ new program includes a self-assessment, ongoing compliance management, and an audit of the monitoring facility’s alarm notification, validation and response processes.

The ANSI/TMA-AVS-01 standard provides an industry-first alarm scoring or classification metric for intrusions detected by security alarm systems. It assists public safety professionals with resource allocation and prioritization of calls for service.

  • Alarm Level 0 – No call for service
  • Alarm Level 1 – Call for service with no other information
  • Alarm Level 2 – Call for service with proof of or a high probability that a person or persons are present at the alarm site
  • Alarm Level 3 – Call for service knowing a person or persons are present at the alarm site and an apparent threat to property
  • Alarm Level 4 – Call for service knowing a person or persons are present at the alarm site and an apparent threat to life

“The Monitoring Association brought together a wide section of stakeholders from the security monitoring industry, including UL Solutions and public safety professionals, to develop an ANSI standard that provides a standardized alarm validation score or classification metric for intrusion detected by security alarm systems. The score will assist law enforcement with resource allocation and call for service prioritization,” said Celia Besore, CEO of The Monitoring Association. “UL Solutions will help alarm monitoring centers demonstrate their commitment to this industry-wide collaboration that can enhance notifications and provide public safety professionals with critical information.”

Learn more about UL Solutions’ new service for security alarm monitoring centers.

FAST Launches 2023 Compensation & Benefits Benchmarking Study

The Foundation for Advancing Security Talent (FAST) is today launching the 2023 Security Industry Compensation & Benefits Benchmarking Study.

This survey “will provide invaluable insights into salaries and benefits across the security industry, empowering decision-makers to recruit, hire, and retain top talent effectively,” according to the foundation announcement.

“The security industry plays a pivotal role in safeguarding our communities and businesses, and understanding compensation and benefits trends is crucial for its continued growth and excellence,” the FAST announcement says.

“FAST, in collaboration with prominent industry partners such as the Security Industry Association (SIA), Electronic Security Association (ESA), PSA Security Network and Security Sales and Integration, is committed to providing the most comprehensive and accurate data possible.

Inside the Survey

Key highlights of the 2023 Compensation & Benefits Benchmarking Study include:

  • Industry-Wide Focus: This study encompasses both security manufacturers and integrators, offering a holistic view of the industry’s compensation landscape.
  • Standardized Data: Standardized job titles and descriptions enable direct comparisons of compensation data, allowing businesses to make informed decisions.
  • Advance Access: Participating organizations will gain access to a sneak preview of the survey results before the full publication, giving them a competitive edge.
  • Complete Confidentiality: Individual responses will remain confidential, with only aggregated data being published to protect participants’ privacy.

FAST invites all industry stakeholders to actively participate in this essential initiative. By contributing your insights and expertise, you can:

  • Assess compensation structures within your organization
  • Attract and retain top talent by aligning with industry compensation benchmarks
  • Make informed, data-driven strategic decisions

Complete the survey by Friday, Oct. 6 using the instructions provided by FAST’s survey partner, Vault Consulting. The survey may take one to three hours to complete.

“Widespread participation ensures the quality and reliability of the data, so your contribution is vital,” the FAST announcement says.

Three New ECCs Go Live with TMA’s ASAP Service

TMA is pleased to announce the addition of three new ECCs to it’s growing list of ASAP-to-PSAP service users. All three went live during the week of August 14th.

The implementations were managed by Dianne Flanagan and Bill Hobgood.

Oswego County NY #132

The Oswego County NY Communications Center became the 132nd Emergency Communications Center (ECC) in the United States and the 7th ECC in the state of New York to implement the Automated Secure Alarm Protocol (ASAP).  Oswego County went live the week of August 14, 2023: Vector Security, Rapid Response Monitoring, Amherst Alarm, Doyle, Vivint, Security Central, Securitas (Stanley Division), Tyco (Johnson Controls), United Central Control, Protection One, Affiliated Monitoring, Securitas, Brinks Home Security, National Monitoring Center, Guardian Protection, and ADT.

Lewis County NY #133

The Lewis County NY Communications Center became the 133rd Emergency Communications Center (ECC) in the United States and the 8th ECC in the state of New York to implement the Automated Secure Alarm Protocol (ASAP).  Lewis County went live the week of August 14, 2023: Rapid Response Monitoring, Amherst Alarm, Doyle, Securitas (Stanley Division), Tyco (Johnson Controls), United Central Control, Protection One, Affiliated Monitoring, Brinks Home Security Protection, and ADT.

Seneca County NY #134

The Seneca County NY Communications Center became the 134th Emergency Communications Center (ECC) in the United States and the 9th ECC in the state of New York to implement the Automated Secure Alarm Protocol (ASAP).  Seneca County went live on August 16, 2023 with the following companies: Vector Security, Rapid Response Monitoring, Guardian Protection, Securitas, Security Central, Amherst Alarm, Vivint, Securitas (Stanley Division), Brinks Home Security, National Monitoring Center, Doyle, Protection One, ADT, and Affiliated Monitoring.

 

New York Governor signs Fair Repair Act, with amendments to protect most alarm devices and services

At year end, New York Governor Hochul signed the Fair Repair Act into law, making it easier for consumers to repair their own electronic devices.  Fortunately, in response to concerns raised by AICC and members of the alarm industry, the Governor simultaneously enacted amendments to the Act to help prevent the compromise of alarm systems in a way that would endanger customers and the public.

The original version of the Act (S. 4104-A) would have required manufacturers of “digital electronic equipment”, including alarm systems, to make product manuals, repair tools, lockout codes, passwords, system design schematics and other information available to customers and third-party contractors, so that they can attempt repairs on their own.  Both houses of the New York legislature passed the bill in June 2022.  Before the bill was forwarded to the Governor for signing, AICC and members of the alarm industry weighed in with a request asking for chapter amendments to the Act, so as to exempt central station alarm operations from the disclosure requirements in the bill.  AICC pointed out that if access codes, passwords, or alarm system schematics are provided to customers or their contractors, and then either hacked or innocently made public (e.g., as part of a You Tube self-help video), it could allow bad actors to disable alarm systems, endangering tens or hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers.

The Governor’s amendment to the Fair Repair Act was responsive to alarm industry concerns in multiple ways:

  • Creation of a specific exemption for “home” security devices and alarm systems;
  • Creation of a specific exemption for equipment sold under a specific business-to-government or business-to-business contract, which is not otherwise offered for sale directly by a retail seller;
  • Deletion of the requirement for any alarm manufacturer or provider to disclose security codes and passwords for alarm equipment under any circumstance;
  • Creation of an exemption for “medical devices” which should be broad enough to cover many security/medical monitoring pendants (to the extent that these devices are not already protected by the “home” alarm exemption discussed above);
  • Grandfathering of pre-July 1, 2023 equipment, narrowing the scope of the new disclosure requirements and giving the alarm industry time to prepare for the new law (to the extent any devices don’t qualify for one of the above exemptions).
  • Creation of an exemption for certain anti-theft security measures;
  • Allowing the provision of replacement part assemblies rather than individual components.
  • Protecting alarm and other manufacturers from having to disclose trade secrets or intellectual property.

Provided courtesy of AICC.

Celebrate National Technician’s Day, Jan. 23rd

TMA is pleased to support the first-ever #NationalSecurityTechnicianDay this Monday, January 23rd. Established by FAST, with the support of SIA and ESA, National Security Technician Day  recognizes the contributions technicians make to our industry and our communities.

Technicians are everyday heroes whose work ensures that security and safety technologies are installed and supported so that people and property are protected. It’s not an easy job: They’re wizards who have to know the newest technologies and equally know the labor skills required for complex installations, and how to work with clients in demanding environments.

Join in the celebration and Make a Plan to Celebrate Your Security Technicians:

Make the day special for your security technicians or those of your partners. Can’t celebrate on Monday? Pick another day for your internal celebration and simply announce your plans this Monday.

Here are some ideas to show your appreciation:

  • Host a luncheon, cookout, or other event for your team to celebrate technicians support security, fire and other safety systems.
  • Surprise your techs with swag. Think cool gear, tools and apparel.
  • Put your money where your heart is: Gift cards or spot bonuses go a long way to show appreciation for techs.
  • Reward them with some time off or a short day!
  • Invest in their training/professional development.
  • Recognize your techs or techs you know. Even better, encourage your clients and partners to recognize some of their favorite techs; it’s hard to beat client appreciation