Security Industry Association (SIA) standards for control panels, PIRs and glassbreaks are encouragi

Pointing the finger is common practice in all walks of life. Whether it’s two siblings laying blame on the other to avoid punishment, or two political parties going head to head on the Senate floor, the outcome is almost always the same: a stalemate.

In most cases, a deadlock amounts to an overabundance of energy void of a solution. The false alarm problem, for instance, has its own share of finger pointing. While various interest groups are aggressively working toward a solution for the alarm industry, police departments across the United States are losing patience.

Where does the stalemate lie? In accountability. Some security professionals are failing to acknowledge their roles in the problem and they do not engage in being part of the solution. The Security Industry Association (SIA) in Alexandria, Va., has taken a proactive approach to combating this ever-growing dilemma by addressing it head-on through a standards committee and subcommittees.

The association has also received cooperative support from the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA), Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) and Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation (AIREF) to draft design standards for burglary equipment. Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and several equipment manufacturers have taken the initiative by testing equipment for false alarm immunity.

The standards that apply include SIA’s “Revision of the Control Panel Standard: Features for False Alarm Reduction” and “Passive Infrared Motion Detector Standard: Features for Enhancing False Alarm Immunity.”

Currently, SIA is focusing its attention on revisions for control panel standards and any proposed revisions for sensors are on tap.

Police No-Responce Evokes Industry Action

“As an industry, we’re begging police not to discontinue police response,” says Bob Bonifas, chairman of the CSAA’s False Alarm Committee. “The SIA document is responding to the AIREF False Alarm Coalition that realizes that as more cities come on board and lower false alarms dramatically, there’s a point at which you hit the wall, and you can’t achieve it any longer with the technology that’s available today.”

Exit/Entry Root Cause Of False Alarm Problem

In 1992, a report was conducted by the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) that broke down the types of alarms leading to falses and their root causes. What the report concluded was entry and exit error problems are a primary cause of false alarms.

CSAA further discovered that entry and exit times were most problematic for the end users. “Two-thirds of all false alarms are user related,” says Virginia Williams, director of technical and educational services for SIA located in Alexandria, Va. Thus, the association made some recommendations to SIA regarding panel modifications.

SIA Puts Energy Into Panel Standard Revisions

The mission of the control panel standard is to establish two types of measures: preventative and responsive. “The control panel needs to be able to provide the input/output necessary to let the user know the system status and direction on what to do next.

“The big area [of concentration] is to allow time for users to deal with the situation and give them the benefit of the doubt that they would know they have tripped their alarm,” Williams contends.

Adopting such design changes gives users a window of opportunity to cancel the alarm itself just by entering a user code. The current keypads require a command and a code; however, the new standard also enables the unit to respond to code only.

SIA concentrated primarily on the entry/exit scenarios. The standards cite suggestions on how control panels should perform during an entry sequence. For example, the user needs enough time to get out of the building before the alarm system is actually armed.

According to the SIA panel standard: “An exit error sequence shall be initiated if an entry/exit zone is violated at the expiration of the exit time. Therefore, a local annunciator shall sound an entry delay or an alarm condition.”

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