Industry Deserves Gratitude for Its False Alarm Prevention Efforts

After reading the “Publisher’s Perspective” (“Las Vegas Deals Us Out; Will Others Follow Suit?”) page in the March issue, I believe that the author presents an interesting look at what the Las Vegas alarm codes require for fire alarms. My understanding is that codes establish
minimum standards.

For example, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Life Safety Code(r) states that residential fire alarms and smoke alarms are only required to notify the occupants of a home during a fire; the systems are not required by code to notify the fire department. This does not necessarily constitute peace of mind and, in many cases, does not constitute a good life-safety standard. I have experienced a fire in a home. If the fire department had not arrived, the fire (which was behind a wall) would not have been detected until further damage occurred.

Your publisher, Michael Zawinski, also suggests in his editorial that, “If alarm companies are so confident their systems are installed properly, then why not have the central station call up a private ambulance or guard service to verify the alarm before dispatching public services?” As a central station owner, I would be happy to contact a private ambulance or guard service to verify an alarm before dispatching public services—if the customer is paying for that service and if that is what he or she wants me to do.

However, we are an Installation Quality (IQ) company and, in this situation, the dispatcher is required to contact the customer before dispatching for verification. This process eliminates a large percentage of public authority dispatches, and, the customer is not required to pay extra for this service.

The author also compares police/fire responses to alarms that central stations dispatch to that of a utility company that digs up a street to run new fiber cable and then leaves the cost of the repairs to the city’s street maintenance department. I fail to understand the reasoning behind this comparison. When we install an alarm system, the customer wants to be assured that, if the alarm activates, the authorities will be called for further assistance. There is no “destruction” for the customer, only a call for help—verified previous to dispatch – which is responded to.

For several years, I have been an active participant in local and national committees and groups talking about false alarms. I know both sides of the coin and have heard it all. Despite this, I believe there is a lack of thanks to the security industry from the police and fire authorities for the industry acting as the first line of defense against false alarms.

I believe that if more companies in our industry were to subscribe to the disciplines of the IQ program guidelines, “drastic measures” would not have to be taken—within the industry or by the authorities.

Volunteers WantedNote: Alarm companies can volunteer to join the Installation Quality (IQ) program. The centerpiece of the program is having a compliance officer for a certified company who is responsible for the certification requirements and an IQ checklist. The checklist is to be completed and signed by the customer and installer. For more information on the program, visit www.alarm.org.

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