How to Get People to Take Alarms Seriously

First, reduce the number of false positives...

1. Train everyone early and often

This cant be stressed enough. Anyone who will access the companys various alarm systems needs ongoing training. The training should:

  • Document any changes to the alarm system, including access code changes, entrances and exits on the system, new technology added and so forth.
  • Reinforce the importance of careful pre-arming checks. These are the walk-throughs that ensure everything is secure before the system is armed. Careless checks can lead to false alarms, such as one due to a door mistakenly left open.
  • Update which doors are designated as entrances and exits, and detail the proper open and close procedures for those doors.
  • Provide the updated pass codes and arming codes.
  • Include rehearsals of how to cancel accidental alarm activations.

2. Pay attention during the holidays

False alarms increase significantly during the holidays, because of activities like holiday parties and the greater number of temporary employees and visitors who accidentally set off alarms. To counter this, make sure temps are aware of the alarm systems and how they work. And watch where you place holiday decorations; they can set off alarms connected to motion detectors and other sensors.

3. Set up motion detection systems with care

Motion detection systems have revolutionized surveillance but also have increased false alarms. Invest in motion detection that can distinguish between harmless objects (birds, leaves, wind-borne debris) and harmful ones, like prowlers, vandals and bears. If you cant afford or dont want to invest in that, put some extra time into placing your motion detection so that prosaic objects like fans, heaters and signs dont constantly trigger false alarms.

4. Use the right kind of alarm in the right spot

Chronic false alarms often stem from the misapplication of technology. For example, floor-mounted contacts are a bad fit for spaces with roll-up doors, which can set off the alarm every time they crash to the ground. At this kind of access door, use track-mounted contacts on both sides of the door, with the alarms placed at different heights to reduce false alarms caused by something banging into the door.

5. Create standard operating proceduresAnd teach them

SOPs reduce false alarms by limiting situations that otherwise could set off alarms. Procedures such as changing codes, arming codes, canceling false alarms, detailing when and how to contact authorities or the alarm monitoring service, performing system maintenanceall of these should happen the same way every time. And the way to create SOPs is through ongoing training. You can also consult the Security Industry Association (www.siaonline.org) for false alarm prevention standards.

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