False Alarms

What About False Alarms?

One thing that the media has made certain the public is aware of is the high rate of false alarms that police deal with on a regular basis. And they should! As a  general statement across the entire industry, false alarms are a problem that need to be dealt with. Statistics often report that upwards of 90% of alarms are false. This is not necessarily accurate. Consider the following scenario: Somebody attempts to open your window. The shock sensor picks up on this and the alarm sounds. The intruder runs off. The alarm has worked well. The police are dispatched and when they arrive can find no evidence of a break in. Their report? Obviously a false alarm.

What the real rate of false alarms is we don’t know. What we do know is that it is too high! What we also know is that most of them are user error! Study after study have confirmed this. If user error is the number one cause of false alarms, then I say the responsibility falls back on the alarm companies. It is the responsibility of your alarm dealer to make certain your system is working properly, and that you know how to properly work your system!

What causes false alarms?

  • poor quality equipment
  • good quality equipment used in the wrong application
  • good quality equipment installed improperly
  • poorly trained users (user error)
  • lack of dispatch verification from the monitoring station

You usually get what you pay for. Some equipment is not reliable and will give false alarms for no apparent reason. Make certain you get reliable equipment. You do not have to pay premium dollars for it. Hardware is very reasonably priced in the current market. Make certain you deal with an established alarm company with a long track record in your area. An excellent sensor will not work properly if used in the wrong application. Smoke detectors don't belong in kitchens. Nor do they belong in welding shops. Use rate of rise heat detectors in these applications. Don't use a motion detector in a setting with lots of hanging posters or signs that will sway as heat and air conditioning fans kick on and off. An experienced alarm company will be aware of such volatile situations.

Ask if the company you are considering dealing with has an active false alarm reduction plan. This includes proper and sufficient client training on how to use the system as well as follow up on all signals that come into the station. This follow up is to make certain equipment is functioning properly and the client is still 'clear on how to operate the system. Often times clients need refreshers on certain aspects of their systems. Make certain your alarm company is "service oriented" in this regard, and has the infrastructure in order to be able to deliver.

Make certain the alarm monitoring station attempts to verify all signals prior to dispatching authorities. This may be through premise call backs, two way voice or video monitoring. In any case, the monitoring station must work closely with the alarm dealer in a proactive manner to minimize or even eliminate false alarms. False alarms do not have to be a problem with your system. There are alarm companies that have very low false alarm rates because they use the right equipment in the right application, installed properly, supported by the proper alarm dealer, and monitored in the right station. It sounds like a lot of variables, but it really is not.
Make certain you ask all the questions before you make your decision.

Many (if not most) Police Departments and municipalities have passed by-laws aimed at reducing false alarms. True Steel supports the concept of False Alarm Reduction. There are as many by-laws as there are municipalities. Follow the link to www.Northern911.com to find out more about False Alarm reduction by-laws in your community. 

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