SIAC: Best Practices Needed to Stem False Panic Alarms

Reducing nuisance alarms from triggered key fobs is necessary to maintain positive relationships with public safety agencies, the group says.

FRISCO, Texas – The Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC) is calling on industry stakeholders to adopt best practices that would reduce nuisance residential panic alarms triggered by key fobs.

“This is an issue the alarm industry can address and should address if we are to continue our good relationship with public safety agencies nationwide,” says Stan Martin, SIAC executive director. “This type of false alarm is dangerous for first responders and alarm owners because it does not allow for cancellation and two-call verification procedures. In addition, key fob alarms are considered a signal of immediate distress.”

Statistics show that 99.9% of key fob alarms are invalid, according to SIAC. Accidental activations are caused by everything from a child playing with the device to someone pushing the wrong button on the fob or activating it while it is in their purse or pocket. Unlike other alarms, there is no way to cancel this alarm signal.

Because key fob alarm activations can also be silent, the alarm owner may not be aware it has been triggered until a responding police officer arrives at the residence.

“Most alarm company owners in business for 30 or 40 years tell us they have not had even one actual duress signal event result in a true duress situation for residential systems,” Martin says. “We cannot justify dispatching on what we know from experience to be a ‘one in a million’ probability of a true duress event.”

Unnecessary dispatches can result in needless travel to a location, thereby increasing the risk of an accident involving first responders, Martin cautions.  Additionally, officers can become complacent which is potentially deadly if the signal is an actual call for help.

The alarm industry addressed this issue early on when it eliminated the one-plus duress signals from alarm panels, which is now covered under the ANSI SIA CP-O1 control panel standard. Previously, under this scenario, adding one to the last digit of the code would disarm the system and send a silent duress signal to the monitoring center.

SIAC continues to urge dealers not to utilize this feature when using non CP-01 panels.

“Our industry recognizes the need to be eternally vigilant to ways we can improve best practices and eliminate known problems,” says Martin. “Although offering to program key fobs for panic alarms may seem like a good selling tool they are in fact likely to cause more problems for the alarm owner and police than they are worth.”

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