Message from the Lobbyist

This article presented by Joe Mapes the LLSSA Lobbyist

Recently, there’s been speculation about whether there will be another special session of the Louisiana legislature in 2024. It brings to mind the question of how many licks it takes to reach the center of a Tootsie Pop, with the answer being three.

Interestingly, this legislative body has already gone through three sessions in 2024, and we are only halfway through the year. The legislators, who want to spend time with their families, are reluctant to return to Baton Rouge for another session. A second reason to not convene again is that the leges are exhausted from these three sessions, and the most obvious reason is, “for what?”

Tort reform didn’t fit into the agenda of the first two special sessions of 2024, but it found its place in the call for the regular legislative session, which lasted 85 days. During this session, legislators diligently worked to pass various pieces of tort reform and insurance reform legislation. There were passionate discussions in the State Capitol halls and committee rooms on this topic. With dedicated effort and collaboration, the legislature successfully passed several bills related to tort reform and insurance reform.

At this point, lyrics from David Essex’s 1973 song come to mind: “And where do we go from here? Which is the way that’s clear?” The answer to the question is the name of the song: “Rock On.” Louisiana has no choice but to keep moving forward and hope that past tort reform measures, such as lower jury thresholds, will eventually lead to lower insurance rates in the state, or do we?

But how, you ask, can Louisiana citizens continue to afford such high insurance rates? Many citizens have stopped paying altogether, choosing to take the risk of going without insurance. Having a fourth session on insurance matters would be like being stuck in a never-ending battle with no clear winner, known as a Pyrrhic victory. It is clear that we are fighting on the wrong battlefield.

Instead, we should engage in advertising and social media campaigns to educate citizens about why their insurance rates are high and what they can do about it. The answer is always the same: if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu. Currently, Louisiana citizens are not at all the tables in Baton Rouge, and there are several. To succeed in the media battle would require a comprehensive two-year campaign supported by the entire Louisiana business community. Their involvement would primarily be providing financial support for the political campaign. This campaign would utilize various media platforms, political consultants, pollsters, and other resources to fight for the minds of Louisiana citizens when it comes to lower insurance rates.

At present, Citizens are only receiving information from one side in the media, leaving them unaware of the full picture. Louisiana’s business community must come together and finish the painting. Business is behind in the media battle regarding insurance, but it’s time to catch up. To win the tort reform battle, we need to think like a tiger and play by the same rules.

Once citizens are educated and informed, they will actively participate in the political process and processes that affect their insurance rates. They will exert pressure where it’s needed regarding insurance and tort reform and get a chance to blow off a little steam that’s been building for years now, too.

Joe Mapes  |  Mapes & Mapes, Inc.  |  225-268-8572 (cell)

NG911: FYI from NESA

Mark Fletcher, VP of public safety at 911inform, tells us how it works, why it’s growing and what it means for security integrators.  Next Generation 911 (commonly referred to as NG911) is a digital, internet protocol (IP)-based system that will replace the analog 911 infrastructure that’s been in place for decades.

NESA asked Mark Fletcher, vice president of public safety at 911inform, to tell us more about how it works, why it’s gaining momentum and what it means for security integrators.

SSI: First, can you compare the benefits of NG911 versus legacy 911 systems?

Mark Fletcher: NG911 uses an all-IP architecture; offering flexible and scalable approaches to emergency response. Extensible data structures determine routing based on precise geospatial location. Calls are routed more accurately to the appropriate PSAP, even when callers are mobile.

In contrast, legacy networks use fixed-length data, which makes it difficult to expand without causing disruptions. Static routing is based on phone number tables sourced from billing records. This makes the system inaccurate for parks or rural areas with no street addresses. Mobility is also a challenge, as the static nature of legacy routing cannot accommodate the dynamic locations of modern mobile users.

SSI: What are the essential network and hardware upgrades required to support NG911, and how do these impact existing physical security systems?

Fletcher: Supporting NG911 requires significant upgrades to both network and hardware infrastructure. The connections in NG911 are ethernet-based, simplifying the hardware requirements and reducing the need for complex, specialized equipment.

Systems are now deployed using virtual machines, which are easily replicated and communicate through IP connectivity. This virtualized environment is easier to manage than typical legacy systems.

However, while physical security becomes less of a concern, the importance of cybersecurity increases dramatically, requiring robust measures, like firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and regular security audits essential to the integrity of NG911 systems.

SSI: What specific technical training is required to handle the advanced features of NG911?

Fletcher: NG911 requires specialized technical training. Professionals must deeply understand IP routing and troubleshoot complex network issues. This includes knowledge of how data packets are managed and routed across an IP network and familiarity with various networking protocols and standards.

Given the increasing sophistication of cyber threats, continuous education in cybersecurity is essential. Continuous security diligence ensures that NG911 systems remain resilient against evolving cyber threats.

SSI: How does NG911 improve data sharing and coordination during multi-agency responses?

Fletcher: NG911 significantly enhances data sharing and coordination during multi-agency responses through its dedicated ecosystem, the Emergency Services IP Network (ESINet). This network facilitates seamless data sharing among various agencies, provided that appropriate security credentials are in place.

By utilizing mobile 5G and emerging 6G technologies, NG911 extends full connectivity to mobile network devices, ensuring that responders have real-time access to critical information. Sharing detailed data, such as caller location, medical history, and real-time video feeds, enables better coordination and faster decision-making during emergencies.

SSI: How do current federal and state regulations impact the deployment and operationalization of NG911 technologies?

Fletcher: Federal and state regulations play a crucial role in deploying and operationalizing NG911 technologies. One of the primary concerns is updating the funding models to support the new networks and entities required for NG911.

Traditional funding mechanisms for 911 services, which often rely on surcharges from telephone bills, may not be sufficient to cover the costs of transitioning to an IP-based system. Policymakers must develop new funding strategies to ensure that NG911 can be implemented and maintained effectively.

Additionally, regulatory frameworks must address interoperability standards, cybersecurity requirements, and privacy protections. These regulations ensure that NG911 systems are technologically advanced and secure and compliant with legal standards.

SSI: What technical lessons have been learned from early adopters of NG911, and how are these lessons being integrated into ongoing deployments?

Fletcher: Early adopters of NG911 have provided valuable insights into the technical challenges and best practices associated with implementing the new system. One key lesson is the importance of using vendor-neutral and open standards.

Proprietary technologies, while innovative, often have short lifespans and can create compatibility issues with other systems. By adopting open standards, NG911 ensures interoperability and easier integration with various technologies and vendors.

Additionally, early deployments have highlighted the need for robust cybersecurity measures and continuous personnel training. These lessons are integrated into ongoing deployments by emphasizing open, flexible standards and prioritizing cybersecurity and training programs.

SSI: How do you foresee the evolution of NG911 standards and protocols to keep pace with advancements in common technology?

Fletcher: The evolution of NG911 standards and protocols is designed to keep pace with the rapid advancements in communication technology. Personally, as a member of several NENA Standards workgroups, developing these standards is approached with a focus on functionality, openness, and extensibility.

While the current standards are effective, they are also designed to accommodate future innovations and expansions. Unlike past standards, which allowed for gradual evolution, the new standards anticipate and are built to support ongoing technological advancements.

This proactive approach ensures that NG911 systems remain adaptable and can leverage the latest communication technologies to improve emergency response capabilities.

SB 489 Signed by the Governor as ACT 534

Louisiana’s Senate Bill 489, now Act 534, signed into law in 2024, introduces significant changes to life safety protections within the state. This legislation, sponsored by Senator Stewart Cathey, aims to modify the code enforced by the State Fire Marshal, with the new rules set to take effect on July 1, 2026.

Joe Delaune, Chief Architect, CBO for the Louisiana Office of the State Fire Marshal put together this list of final provisions of Act 534


  1. Effective date is July 1, 2026:
  2. The SFMO will review all structures (architectural scope) for compliance with ALL fire protection, egress, and accessibility provisions of the LSUCC as adopted by the Code Council (IBC, IEBC, IMC, IFGC, etc.).  The Life Safety Code (LSC) will continue to be applied only to licensed Institutional occupancies, detention occupancies, state owned or leased buildings, and educational occupancies.  (The SFMO is currently applying the LSC & the fire protection provisions of the IBC to all structures).
  3. No changes to the Fire Alarm, Sprinkler, Locking, Suppression system review process or requirements are expected (same standards, applicable laws & rules remain intact).
  4. Clarifications were made to apply the LSC to existing buildings, and the IBC to buildings moving forward.
  5. Fire Prevention Bureaus have the choice to adopt either NFPA 1 or the IFC as their fire code. 
  6. The fire marshal or his designee was added as a member to the Code Council.
  7. Clarifications were made to the LSUCC law to codify that the SFMO is, and will remain, the AHJ for fire protection, egress, and accessibility statewide.  (Some third parties were duplicating SFMO reviews prior to this).
  8. The current provision for the SFMO to “contract” with local jurisdictions for full enforcement of the LSUCC (structural, mechanical, plumbing, energy, etc.) was changed to a “letter of intent” to simplify the process.  This is an existing option, but the SFMO is not able to accept any more jurisdictions unless we’re better funded for it.
  9. The ADA-ABA was changed to IBC Chapter 11, which references the ICC A117.1 Accessibility Code.  It can’t conflict with the federal law and the Code Council will amend it where needed. 

 These changes have prompted calls for careful review and action from industry professionals and stakeholders to address potential challenges and ensure that safety and regulatory standards are maintained effectively.  House Resolution 291 by Representative Bryan Fontenot creates a task force to study these changes and as an association the LLSSA has asked that our members be allowed to participate in this study so that all concerns are addressed.

Onne Leroy Heeren Jr. 1943 – 2024

Onne L. Heeren, Jr., founder of Custom Security Systems, Inc., passed away on June 27, 2024, in Baton Rouge. He was 81.

Born on January 15, 1943, in Delray Beach, Florida, Onne didn’t always work in the security industry. After serving in the US Army during the Vietnam War, he worked at Exxon Plastics as an instrument technician for ten years, and taught night classes in this subject at ITI Technical College. His interest in the alarm business was sparked after spotting a magazine ad for alarm industry seminars. Shortly after completing those seminars in Las Vegas, Onne came back to Louisiana and took the leap to start his own business, Custom Security Systems, in the utility room of his home. Soon, the growth of the business warranted expansion to a separate office in the backyard, then to an office off-site, and finally to its current location in 1992.

One of the traits that made him successful was his eagerness to learn new things, especially in technical fields, which made the security industry a perfect fit. Onne believed in hard work, and in seeking out resources to better himself and become more knowledgeable. He was equally committed to passing this knowledge on to his employees, with the expectation that it would make them better able to service their customers. But Custom employees were not just schooled on the basic alarm. Onne believed in teaching life skills not only to represent his company well, but to truly give employees all the tools they needed to succeed in their lives both in and out of the office.

As much as he enjoyed the technical side of the business, it was his innovative business ideas that truly set him apart. Onne recognized the value of marketing and used clever direct mail campaigns, original sales presentations, and was the first in the market to embrace local TV advertising. He restructured the traditional security sales model to make alarm systems affordable for his customers. And, as is true of all successful businesspeople, he believed that taking care of customers was paramount and his expectations for his employees were unwavering in this respect.

His community presence was also felt by providing a voice for homeowners regarding false alarm ordinances that placed undue burden on them and in being an avid supporter of local law enforcement. Onne appreciated the work of first responders and dispatchers and was a consistent contributor for needed supplies, including canine units, as well as hosting appreciation dinners over the years.

Although he stepped away from the day-to-day operation of the business nearly a decade ago, his legacy has been and continues to be felt in the principles he established regarding customer care and service excellence. He passed these on to his two daughters, Jeanine Heeren Anderson and Brittany Heeren Relle, and long-term right-hand man and president of the company, Ronnie Whiddon, entrusting them to lead the company into its next era of success.