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More on Proximity Cards and Readers / More on Fire Marshall issue  
November 18,  2023
More on Proximity Cards and Readers from article on November 3, 2023
            Regarding the 125KHz Proximity Cards and Readers article on November 3, 2023, your response is correct:  “alarm and security equipment and systems are susceptible to circumvention”
            Locks can also be picked, but who does that? Burglars use brute force - break window, kick door. 125kHz credentials are based on Wiegand format which is older than most of us, but many so-called "smart" and biometric readers still use Wiegand transport media for communication. The reader basically converts input format to Wiegand and sends it to controller. There is no remote access to the signal. Someone would have to be present at the reader to capture the data, or have access to valid card to duplicate it.
            Thanks for sharing your expertise
More on Fire Marshall issue from article on November 7, 2023
            Lloyd Young raised an interesting point in your November 7th blog.  He was cited by a local Fire Marshall for installing a card reader on an existing door strike without pulling a permit.  Lloyd points out, and correctly, I might add, that Texas law prevents cities, counties, or other political subdivisions from requiring “an authorization, a permit, franchise, or license to engage in business or perform an authorized service.” 
            There is some background to all of this.  Historically, the regulation of alarm companies in many states was the wild west.  Although most states had some regulations, cities, counties, etc… were free to propose additional restrictions.  I served on a City Council in the 1990s and there was a reason for this.  Our Fire Chief believed (and rightly so) that the State Fire Code was not sufficient, and was not sufficiently enforced.  We were a wealthy, middle class, fast growing, suburb, and we wanted to provide a safe environment for our citizens.  We gave our fire inspectors a lot of latitude and authority, and they kept our city safe. At the same time, security companies were forced to deal with a gauntlet of local regulations and codes that were highly restrictive and unnecessary.   The Texas Burglar and Fire Association lobbied, for, and was able to pass legislation which concentrated the regulation of security companies with the State.  This was a tremendous accomplishment as security companies no longer had to send their technicians to City Hall, to register, get fingerprinted, etc… before they could make a service call.
            Fire alarms, however, are another story.  They are considered life safety, and, even though Texas has a State Fire Marshall, whose office administers fire alarm licensing and regulations, local jurisdictions may also want to have a say in life safety issues.  When I was serving on the City Council I had a meeting with the Fire Chief at one of the firehouses.  I noticed that all of the firefighters had backed their vehicles into the parking spaces with the exception of one.  I asked the Fire Chief about this and he said, “He’s having trouble getting along with the other firefighters and they won’t let him back his car in, he’s not really a team player, he’ll probably end up being an Inspector.”  We all have heard the stories of overbearing inspectors but the alternative is lax enforcement of safety codes and disasters waiting to happen.  Because of this, we let life safety issues take priority.  In the case from the blog, it appears that the security company, interfaced with the fire alarm system.  Mr. Young has a great reputation as a quality installer, and businessman, and there is no doubt in my mind that he installed the card reader properly and didn’t cause any issues.  Unfortunately, he ran into a clash of inconsistent rules.   The Inspector wanted to know about the install.  In these cases we have to consider the spirit of the laws and regulations.  The Fire Inspector is going to want to be satisfied that every device that attaches to, or coordinates with, a fire system, performs properly.  Courts generally look at the spirit of the law, and, the Fire Code addresses life safety, and the laws regarding security systems, have more of an administrative function.  The Private Security Act is contained in Section 1702 of the Occupations Code.  This is because it is more focused on who can work in the field as opposed to the Fire Code, which has a broader purpose and includes regulation of work product as well as the occupation.
            One thing to keep in mind is that most inspectors, auditors, even law enforcement officers, are primarily concerned with compliance with rules and regulations.  Most will give you a break if you hear them out and agree to be in compliance going forward.  It’s a shame that we all suffer because of the acts of a few unscrupulous actors. 
 Mitch Reitman 
817 698 9999 XT 101
Reitman Consulting Group
Fort Worth, TX

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