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An updated UL alarm certification for DISP contractors.

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. For this reason, UL and DIS began to examine the certification process and applicable standards.

DIS quickly realized that protection philosophies differed. The Defense Industrial Security Program (DISP) emphasizes detection of intruders; UL emphasizes prevention of intrusion and apprehension of intruders. Hence, UL is more concerned with attacks on monitoring stations. This concern with physical attacks supports the UL hardening requirements for alarm monitoring stations.

The examination uncovered other problem areas as well. For example, the current certificate process lacks the flexibility to certify alarm systems in many areas of the United States because commercial central stations and associated alarm response elements are unavailable. As with the monitoring station hardening problem, this also required issuing waivers, removing additional alarm installations from the UL Field Countercheck Program.

When this review is completed, a new and unique UL certificate specifically tailored to DISP requirements will be created. The new certification process will encompass a modular combination of monitoring, response, and signal protection technologies for operating environments. This new certificate will represent a significant change in the DISP/UL Alarm Certification Program.

The benefits of this initiative include the following: * Waivers will be eliminated from ISM alarm requirements. * Most alarm installations will be included in the UL Field Countercheck Program. * Alarm system monitoring and response options will have more flexibility when used in DISP, especially for contractors operating in isolated areas. * Installation costs will decrease as certain physical security requirements for contractor monitoring stations are lessened. * UL certification will be simplified through the issuance of a Defense Industrial Security Systems Certificate to DISP contractors.

These improvements to the UL certification process for DISP contractors are long overdue. Confusion and costs will be reduced while quality assurance will be increased. It will be easier for cleared contractors to have their alarm systems UL certified and approved by DIS. The implementation date will be announced in a forthcoming Industrial Security Letter. John F. Donnelly is director of the Defense Investigative Service.
COPYRIGHT 1991 American Society for Industrial Security
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Special Issue; Underwriters Laboratories; Defense Industrial Security Program
Author:Donnelly, John F.
Publication:Security Management
Date:Nov 1, 1991
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