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Criteria for third party listing organizations of alarm service providers

Certification of alarm service and alarm service providers is intended to deliver a confidence connection between all stakeholders:  Alarm service providers, building owners, AHJs and other interested safety stakeholders. For more than 90 years, UL has worked with all stakeholders to design today's model for our Alarm Service Certification Program.

Recently, the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced that they will be withdrawing a key alarm service technical document, NFPA 72, The National Fire Alarm Code, from the recognition scope of its Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories program (NRTL) on Sept. 14, 2011 noting,

"Such standards do not meet the NRTL Program's requirements for an "appropriate test standard," i.e., the standards do not primarily specify testing requirements for particular types of products."

(from the Federal Register 75:9439-9441, Section III)

A key reason behind this withdrawal is that OSHA's NRTL program is intended to assist with enforcement of Federal laws that address the safety of products brought into the American workplace. Alarm service is not a "product brought into the American workplace" but instead is viewed as a service, which would be considered outside the scope of OSHA's NRTL program.

As AHJs consider what criteria to use in evaluating the abilities of any 3rd party certification organizations who offer services to audit local alarm service providers, UL has put together some basic criteria or guidelines that are considered critical of any listing organization.  UL's Alarm Certificate Service program is built on these 10 guiding operational principles. 

We encourage you to consider these points below when faced with needing to make an informed decision about Certification acceptance in your individual locales.

UL welcomes questions and comments about these criteria, and we are available any time to discuss.  Please contact your local UL Alarm Service Certificate auditor or our departmental leader, Steve Schmit at steve.a.schmit@us.ul.com.

Acceptance criteria for alarm service provider listing organizations

  1. A  Listing organization's Certification Program shall comply with ISO Guide 65, General Requirements for Bodies Operating Product Certification Systems
  2. A Listing organization shall make available a comprehensive description of its evaluation and surveillance audit processes, procedures, policies, check lists and other documentation needed for stakeholders to fully understand the depth & breadth of its program.
  3. A Listing organization shall only full time employees of the Organization as evaluation and audit staff, in order to provide controls over training consistency of interpretations, conduct and potential conflicts of interest.
  4. A Listing organization's Personnel Qualifications criteria shall require a defined minimum level of experience and demonstrated competency in the alarm industry as a prerequisite for conducting alarm service evaluations and conducting alarm service follow up audits. For example, Listing organization staff working in fire alarm disciplines shall have NICET Fire Alarm Technician Level 2 or high credentials.
    1. Trainees shall work under close supervision of qualified staff, as defined in documented operating procedures. A Listing organization shall have a structure in place for rendering authoritative technical interpretations based on a documented, vetted examination of the decision maker's understanding of both the applicable technical requirements and the rational for those requirements.
  5. A Listing organization shall conduct independent listing evaluations and surveillance audits that are not based on conclusions made by or reports from other Listing organizations.
  6. When Certified Alarm Service is dependent upon both a local service provider and an off-premise monitoring company, both entities (both "ends of the system") shall be Listed by the same Listing organization that issued the protected property Certification document (Certificate, Placard, etc.)
  7. Acceptance of equipment critical to delivery of alarm service shall be based on Certification by a party whose testing & Certification procedures are known and auditable by the Listing organization issuing the protected property Certification document (Certificate, Placard, etc.)
  8. A Listing organization shall provide a central repository of issued Certification documents (Certificates, Placards, etc) that is accessible to authorities having jurisdiction.
  9. A Listing organization shall provide a method to receive and resolve field reports of noncompliance from AHJs, insurers, owners, and other stakeholders.