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HST Brings the Hammer Down on False Alarms

HS Technology proves that implementing a successful false alarm management program does not require an especially large staff or internally generated monitoring services. What it does require is a well-coordinated plan, outstanding communication, follow-through and a commitment to achieving results. All of which HST demonstrated in spades in capturing the 7th annual Police Dispatch Quality (PDQ) Award.

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<p>HST Founder and President Stuart Forchheimer is active in both the False Alarm Reduction Association and Maryland Burglar & Fire Alarm Association.</p>“Throughout the process we had different opinions on which central station reports to work and how much time we should direct to frequent abusers,” says Forchheimer. “We are still focusing efforts on the automation part of the process. The idea is to have messages with a link in the E-mail for the customer to click on and generate a service request for a courtesy visit at no charge to resolve the problem. We want it to be very easy.” 

The pain of implementing a comprehensive alarm management plan is eased by positive customer feedback. Just because you think you know what is best for them does not mean customers appreciate it. Many resist any type of change. Fortunately for HST, most clients have given the proverbial thumbs up. It helps to have engendered trust based on a history of personalized care.

“We make it a point from the very beginning to let every customer know they have a support system and if they should have a problem, we’re here to help,” says Customer Service Rep Tina Ray. “We are with them every step of the way and we ensure our clients understand the operation of their system by the time the installation is complete. Because we build a close relationship from the beginning, they are more attuned to listening and understanding the importance of being a responsible alarm owner.”

Final Piece Is Peace With Police

Equally vital to cultivating a bond with your employees, monitoring provider and clients is reaching out to responding law enforcement agencies. Out of the four cornerstones of this equation, this is the area that requires the most proactivity and often the most care and sensitivity.

As Baltimore County’s Alarm Reduction Unit manager’s endorsement letter illustrates, HST excels in this area: It is a pleasure to report Homesafe’s false alarm dispatch rate in 2011 was 0.18. This means customers on average experience a false alarm less than once every five years. Homesafe’s low dispatch rate prompted me to pull its rate for each of the last three years. Homesafe’s false alarm dispatch rate never exceeded 0.19. Homesafe’s sustained commitment to false alarm reduction is to be commended.

Besides extending itself to build rapport with law enforcement, HST also pursues other avenues to further the cause. The firm is active in FARA — with Forschheimer recently being presented with that organization’s W. Rex Bell award for his contributions — and the local alarm association.

“My involvement in the two associations and my willingness to work on these challenges probably converted any possible skeptics,” says Forchheimer. “Our low false alarm rate speaks for itself, and our positive working relationship with law enforcement is an added benefit. Our company is continually improving our methods of operation and we have been active in supporting changes to the laws that will reduce false alarms.”

Still, he laments the limitations of being just one company in the grand scheme of reducing false alarms. Many states do not require ECV or much training, have limited resources due to the economy and are unable to enforce what they do require. At the same time, Forchheimer empathizes with some companies’ struggles to generate the resources for such a program. Nevertheless, he believes a relatively minimal effort can make a significant dent in this critical industry challenge.

“Minimally, every company should be able to identify signal traffic at their central station on a regular basis,” he says. “This information should be prioritized, ranking dispatches highest, communication problems second and any ‘troubles’ third. They should also be able to get corresponding info from local authorities that have tracking software in place for false alarms. This will identify how big a problem a company has and the major offenders. Such a program can reduce attrition and generate more referrals.”

Editor-in-Chief Scott Goldfine has spent more than 13 years with SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION. He can be reached at (704) 663-7125.

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Article Topics
Business Management · Intrusion · Cover Story · HS Technology · Industry Awards · PDQ Award · All Topics

About the Author
Scott Goldfine
Scott joined SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION in October 1998 and has distinguished himself by producing award-winning, exemplary work. His editorial achievements have included blockbuster articles featuring major industry executives, such as Tyco Electronic Products Group Managing Director Gerry Head; Protection One President/CEO Richard Ginsburg; former Brink’s Home Security President/CEO Peter Michel; GE Interlogix President/CEO Ken Boyda; Bosch Security Systems President/CEO Peter Ribinski; and former SecurityLink President/CEO Jim Covert. Scott, who is an NTS Certified alarm technician, has become a respected and in-demand speaker at security industry events, including presentations at the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) Annual Meeting; California Alarm Association (CAA) Summer and Winter Conferences; PSA Security Network Conference; International Security Conference and Exhibition (ISC); and Security Industry Association (SIA) Forum. Scott often acts as an ambassador to mainstream media and is a participant in several industry associations. His previous experience as a cable-TV technician/installer and running his own audio company -- along with a lifelong fascination with electronics and computers -- prepared Scott well for his current position. Since graduating in 1986 with honors from California State University, Northridge with a degree in Radio-Television- Film, his professional endeavors have encompassed magazines, radio, TV, film, records, teletext, books, the Internet and more. In 2005, Scott captured the prestigious Western Publisher Maggie Award for Best Interview/Profile Trade for "9/11 Hero Tells Tale of Loses, Lessons," his October 2004 interview with former FDNY Commander Richard Picciotto, the last man to escape the Ground Zero destruction alive.
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