Our Guide to False Alarms and how to Stop Them
What is your initial thought when you hear a security alarm system activating? I bet it’s not along the lines of ‘quick, call the Police someone is being burgled’. You’re probably more likely to think ‘that noise is a nuisance, someone’s security system has false alarmed’ and wonder when they are going to realise and switch it off!
This has become a common place reaction where in an unregulated security industry false alarms are now the expected norm, rather than a rare occurrence. As in Aesops fable of the Boy Who Cried Wolf, where the repeated false calls for help were soon ignored by the villagers, a security system that false alarms is also quickly ignored. So that when a real intruder appears the alarm is dismissed or the response is inadequate.
The common causes for intruder alarms false alarming are numerous, but here is our guide to ensuring that you have a security system you can rely on.
Have your security system installed by a professional
One of the most common causes of false alarms is due to faults in the system itself, such as poor system design using the wrong sensor types installed in the wrong locations. For example PIR motion sensors that detect movement by sensing infrared (radiant heat) are often installed facing areas with changing levels of radiant heat, such as windows or air conditioning systems. This is a recipe for unnecessary false alarms.
Even the cabling practices that are used to install the system can have an impact on how reliable your security system is. If the installer has ran the sensitive extra low-voltage cabling for your security system alongside or in close proximity to mains cabling, you may be plagued with false alarms every time there is a power surge.
There’s lots of different manufacturer’s of security alarms available in Australia. Inner Range, Interlogix, Protege, Bosch to name just a few, and they all have similar offerings. Which one you choose depends on your specific requirements, but to ensure you have a security system that is reliable and doesn’t false alarm you need to carefully select the right installer.
An installer that is going to design the right security system for the environment you are trying to protect. One that has a proven track record in the industry and not just an electrician who occasionally does security systems on the side! Preferably select a provider who is a member of ASIAL, the peak body for the security industry, and make sure they are licensed with VIC Police to install an alarm system in the first place.
Selecting the right installer is the first step in ensuring that your alarm system is robust, reliable and free of false alarms.
Train your staff on how to properly use the system
A large number of false alarm are caused by user error. So much so that most monitoring stations will ignore an alarm system if it is switched off within a certain time, and dismiss it as user error. Staff that arm and disarm the alarm system should be adequately trained on how to correctly operate the system.
Knowing which is the correct entrance route into and out of the building is vital, as straying from this path can cause unnecessary alarms. And having an understanding of where the sensors are and how they operate can also help identify potential causes of false alarms before they occur – such as not installing display banners or signage in front of a motion sensor, or leaving doors unsecured so that the reed switches don’t trigger when they rattle open on a windy night.
It’s also wise to train staff on what they can expect to see on the keypad if there is a fault with the alarm system. This helps them identify issues with the alarm, such as power faults or unsecured sensors before they arm up and leave for the night, only for the inevitable false alarm to activate after they’ve gone.
We would always recommend that every member of staff has their own code for the alarm system instead of all sharing the same one. This will help you and the control room quickly identify the individual member of staff that is having issues with the alarm. A bit of training can have a big impact on reducing the number of false alarms.
Have the system regularly maintained
So you’ve had a good alarm system installed, everyone knows how to use it correctly and you’re not experiencing any false alarms. That’s great, but it doesn’t stop there. An alarm system requires regular maintenance in order to operate reliably (and regular maintenance is also a requirement under Australian Standards).
Having a qualified technician service your alarm system every 6 or 12 months can have a major impact on reducing the number of false alarms. Testing and replacing faulty or outdated back-up batteries, cleaning and repairing damaged sensors, or even identifying changes in the building that reduce the reliability of a security system to detect intruders, will make a big difference with false alarms. And regular preventative maintenance, as opposed to reactive maintenance and emergency repairs will not only extend the expected lifetime of your alarm system, it will help save on some costs.
If you are contemplating having an alarm system installed in your commercial property in Melbourne, Dandenong, or the Mornington Peninsula and have concerns about false alarms, or maybe you already have an alarm system but it’s unreliable and causing you sleepless nights, give the team at Red Flag Systems a call on 1300 685 504.
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Proud members of ASIAL and we share their commitment to promoting standards and raising the level of professionalism within the security industry