One of the most common questions we are asked at FMC is if an annual inspection of their monitoring equipment is required. This comes not only from our fire alarm monitoring clients, but from clients who choose FMC for the monitoring of the security systems in their home or business. For fire alarm and sprinkler monitoring customers, the answer is ‘yes’. CAN/ULC-S561 (the monitoring standard recognized in the Building code and Fire code) requires annual inspections for monitoring transmitters connected to fire alarms and bi-monthly inspections for those connected to sprinklers.
For security system (intrusion system) owners, the answer to this question isn’t a simple yes or no, but is rather a “highly recommended”. There is no requirement under any recognized “Code” for annual inspections, however they are highly recommended for a number of reasons. Some of these reasons are valid for both security and fire alarm system monitoring:
Regular annual inspections of monitoring equipment can improve the amount of time the security equipment is able to operate in your home or business, and reduce the number of service calls associated with the system. Think of it like an oil change on your car. Like an oil change, when FMC’s technicians perform an annual inspection, they replace any parts that may show wear (most commonly batteries, which need to be replaced ever 3- years). Having a trained set of eyes look at your system can reduce service calls which tend to crop up at the most inopportune times.
Reduced False Alarms
Regular inspections have been shown to reduce false alarms, and the reasons for this are twofold. First, as we just noted above, trained technicians on site may be able to determine if there are issues with the system which may cause false alarms (new equipment in the business, new pets in the home, etc.). They can also identify any potential technical problems that may exist and correct them before it becomes an issue. Second, having a trained technician on site allows for customer re-training. The majority of false alarms on security systems are caused by user error and, while you likely had training when the system was set up, as time progresses we all forget the little things which can help in reducing false alarms (bypassing zones in areas, for example). New people in the business or home may also need a refresher on how to properly use the system.
This information is not only true for “monitored” alarm systems, but is true for access control systems and CCTV systems. Regularly scheduled maintenance of the system that is in place allows for its optimal use and continued performance. It is a small annual investment that can help keep the system you have in place in proper working order for years to come.