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Intruder alarms are a fantastic addition to business security. However, if you’ve equipped your business with an intruder alarm system, there’s a good chance you’ll have experienced a false alarm.

False alarms are more than a nuisance – they also place a strain on resources and can even incur fees. As such, we’re going to look at what causes false alarms and some ways you can prevent them.


What Causes False Alarms?

User Error

It’s been estimated that up to 70 percent of false alarms are caused by user error. This is both good and bad. On the plus side, this means that 70 percent of false alarms can potentially be eliminated with proper training and awareness. The downside is that this indicates that a lot of people are not receiving adequate instruction when it comes to their business’s intruder alarms.

In order to reduce false alarms caused by user error, it’s important you properly train your staff. This includes informing certain senior staff members (those who arrive earliest and leave latest) of the most up-to-date passcodes as well as showing them how to lock and unlock your premises properly, arm and disarm the alarm, silence a false alarm and properly navigate the interface.


Motion Detectors

Motion detectors are an effective way to make sure no unwanted intruders enter your premises. However, today’s sensors are incredibly sensitive – which can cause issues. Unfortunately, people aren’t the only things that move. And this means that falling objects (unbalanced stacks of paper, umbrellas, coats, etc.), objects that move in a breeze (blinds and birthday balloons), and even large insects have all been known to set off motion detectors.

To minimise the chance of a false motion detection, you should ensure your office is clean and tidy before you leave, move light objects away from air conditioning and remove insects as soon as possible.


Unsecured Doors and Windows

If your system has sensors on doors and windows, and one or more of those doors or windows is poorly fitted, a false alarm may be triggered. This is because ill-fitting doors and windows may be able to wiggle a little even when closed – the motion of which can trigger sensors, especially in adverse weather conditions or if someone slams a door somewhere else in the building.

To reduce the chance of poorly-fitted doors and windows setting off your alarm, make sure that all doors and windows are properly fitted. This means that, when they’re closed, they display little or no range of movement when pushed or pulled.


How To Reduce False Alarms

In addition to the above, there are some other things you can do to reduce the chances of experiencing a false alarm.

• Carry Out Routine Maintenance

False alarms can be triggered by a fault in your system. This includes batteries running out, short circuits and water intrusion. As such, you should carry out regular checks and maintenance. If your system is old and liable to falsely alert, it may be worth considering an upgrade.

• Keep Everyone In The Loop

Make sure you contact your central monitoring station if you make any changes to your system. This includes adding or changing passcodes, adding or removing authorised users and making changes to arming times/locations.

• Enforce Proper Entry/Exit Procedures

Inform employees of which entrances and exits they are permitted to use and at what times, make sure that employees lock all doors and windows before leaving and show authorised users how to properly arm the system upon departure.

• Log False Alarms

If your alarm is wrongly alerting on a regular basis, make sure you record the dates and times of every occurrence. This will help you ascertain why your alarm is falsely alerting and allow you to put in place measures to prevent it.

• Make Sure Your System is Properly Installed

Always choose a certified security provider to install your alarm system. A badly installed system is far more likely to false alert than one which has been professionally installed.


False Alarms and Police Response

Ideally, a legitimate sounding of your alarm system will result in a rapid response from the police or a professional security company. However, due to time wasted responding to false alarms, the police have a strict policy covering how and when they will respond to a triggered alarm.

This means that, in order to secure a police response, your system will:

• Be installed by a company accredited by a United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) certified body such as the National Security Inspectorate (NSI).

• Send alarm signals to an Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) accredited by a UKAS certified body such as the NSI.

• Conform to PD662: 2010 and BS 8243

It’s also worth noting that the police will not continue to respond if they attend three false alarms over a 12-month period.

Alternatively, if you choose a professional alarm response service from an accredited security provider, you will be guaranteed a rapid 24/7 response without your alarm system having to meet these criteria. In fact, since the police will only respond to a legitimate alarm depending on their priorities – even when all criteria are met – using a private security provider often results in faster, more consistent responses.

If you choose a private provider, your rapid alarm response will be bundled with a variety of other services. This includes key holding, scheduled and random patrols of your premises, emergency repairs, first-aid trained responders and more.

Churchill Security is an established security company and provides comprehensive alarm response and key holding services across the UK. Established in 1993, Churchill Security possesses a wealth of security experience, professional accreditations and expertise.

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John Melling is a Director for Churchill Security Ltd. John is a highly motivated, determined and decisive security industry professional. Drawing on his extensive experience gained within the security industry whilst working on the coalface John has operated at all levels within the industry. He has a proven track record for motivating and leading high performance teams and has helped mentor and develop many people at Churchill who now hold key or senior positions within the business. John is committed to delivering only the finest services, exercising compelling leadership, maintaining good internal morale and striving to resolve any challenges efficiently and effectively.