Having a monitored alarm, whether it be for a fire alarm system or an intrusion (security) alarm system, reducing false alarms is a top priority. Unnecessary dispatches can result in fines from emergency responders (refer to your local fire or police department) and/or charges from a contracted mobile patrol company. They also place unnecessary stress on the first responders who could be using the time spent investigating a false alarm to respond to other, actual events or emergencies. Therefore, it is important that we take all of the appropriate steps we can to reduce the possibility of false alarms at your premises. At FMC, we say we because, while the system should be properly installed, there are steps that you, the property owner, can take to help reduce false alarms. Let’s look at some below:
Maintaining your Fire Alarm or Fire Sprinkler System
If you have a monitored fire alarm or sprinkler system, there is a requirement to have annual and/or bi-monthly inspections completed on the system, per Fire Code. Well maintained systems have been shown to have fewer false alarms (as well as fewer service calls). Keeping the inspections up-to-date will help ensure the fire department isn’t showing up at your doorstep on a regular basis.
Choose a trained, certified installer
Properly trained and certified security system installers will know the best practices as it relates to installations to help prevent false alarms. This is why all of FMC’s technicians are trained through the Canadian Security Association (CANASA) Alarm Technician Training, in addition to specific manufacturer’s training. This program focusses on false alarm reduction and best practices for system installation. As well, all of FMC’s technicians are certified through the Canadian Fire Alarm Association (CFAA) to work on fire alarm and sprinkler systems – a requirement for any technician connecting to a fire alarm system.
Understand How your Intrusion Alarm System and Fire Alarm Monitoring System Works
On installation of your system, FMC’s technicians will take time to show you how the system operates, how to arm and disarm the system, program codes, bypass zones and any other functions of the system. Use this time to gain an understanding of the system, and ask questions if you are unsure of its use to ensure that you are fully aware of how the system works. The #1 cause of false alarms is user error, as over 80% of all false alarms turn out to be user error.
Properly Train Other Users on How to Use your Intrusion Alarm System
Once installed, make sure that anyone who is using the system is also properly trained on how to use the system. Again, user error is the #1 cause of false alarms. Ensure they know the passcode for the system in case of an accidental trip of the alarm.
Maintain Call Lists for your Scurity Monitoring Company or Fire Monitoring Company
FMC will attempt to verify if the security alarm on your premises prior to dispatching police through premise & keyholder verification. The more correct the call list is, the easier it is to verify if the alarm is valid. FMC practices Enhanced Call Verification wherever possible, which has been shown to reduce false police dispatches from 25-60%, depending on the jurisdiction.
NOTE: CAN/ULC-S561 does not allow for alarm verification of fire alarm signals from fire alarm or sprinkler systems – alarm signals must be dispatched within 30 seconds through a phone call or through electronic retransmission via OPEN ACCESS™. Keyholders are still called first for ancillary supervisory alarms such as Trouble Conditions or A/C Failures.
Schedule Annual Inspections of your Security Alarm Equipment & Fire Alarm Monitoring Equipment
This is a topic covered more in depth here. Annual inspections of alarm transmitters have been shown to reduce false alarms that result from equipment failures. They also reduce false alarms that result from user error, as having a trained technician on site once per year allows an opportunity for retraining on the proper use of the system for you or other users of the system.
Keep Your Security Company Informed
Help us by keeping us informed as to any changes in the home or business which may impact the monitoring of the system. New doors & windows, renovations, changes to the fire alarm or sprinkler system, new pets are all changes to the site which we may not necessarily know about which can create false alarms. Prior to any significant changes, give our customer service reps a call and discuss any changes and how we may be able to help you reduce alarms in this new environment.
Use Advanced Intrusion Alarm Monitoring Techniques
Technology now exists which makes it easier for FMC (or yourself) to verify whether or not an alarm is valid. Video Verification of alarms, where FMC is able to remotely view CCTV cameras at your premises prior to calling, will allow us to help determine the validity of the alarm (and perhaps save you a call in the middle of the night). Technology now exists which can allow you to remotely log in and view cameras via a computer or smartphone, and this can help reduce calls to your premises, or help direct authorities to what is actually happening on site.
By following some or all of the advice above, we can work together to reduce false alarms on your system, and take some of the stress off of our emergency responders.