The hidden cost of false security alarms

Police respond to millions of security alarms each year, and an astonishing 94 to 98 percent of them turn out to be false alarms.1 In 2017, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reported that there was an "undiminished number of false alarms," despite an improvement in technology.2 How can you ensure that this won't happen to your company?

 

The cost of security false alarms

The cost of security false alarms can be high. According to the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing, security false alarms in one recent year accounted for $1.8 billion in wasted police time and resources.3

Businesses can be fined for a false alarm; fines can vary in different areas. The city of Cambridge, Massachusetts, for example, won't charge you "for the first three responses in any six-month period," but subsequent visits will incur a fee.4

Common causes of false alarms

Stan Martin, executive director of the Security Industry Alarm Coalition, says user error causes approximately 85 percent of false security alarms.1 This includes not training people to use the system correctly or using an incorrect keypad code. Another common problem is leaving a door or window open when activating the system. Other situations that can lead to a false security alarm include weak batteries, faulty equipment, pets on the property that set off motion detectors and acts of nature.5

The International Code Council's International Property Maintenance Code lists strict safety requirements that call for inspection, testing and maintenance of fire alarms. As the NFPA says: "We should expect fewer false alarms now and in the future by using new technology to help reduce the incidence of those false alarms. But new technology cannot reduce or eliminate false alarms from systems that are not properly designed, installed, inspected, tested, maintained, or used."1

 

How to prevent false alarms

How do you prevent some of these potential problems? A basis safeguard is to make sure your alarm system is regularly checked and serviced by your alarm company. Make sure you routinely check batteries, too, and replace them as needed.

You can prevent false alarms by thoroughly training all appropriate employees on using the system, and how to enter and exit the property correctly. Be sure they understand how to cancel an accidentally triggered alarm, as well.5 Be wary of hanging point-of-purchase displays or advertisements from the ceiling, as they could spin or twist in the air conditioning and set off a motion detector.7

Do you feel confident in your fire alarm system? Save yourself the fees and headache by installing a fire alarm system that has 24/7 monitoring and an alarm response service, so if an alarm is triggered, you will be immediately contacted. Put a stop to faulty fire alarms.

1. Pogue, Paul F. P. "Do False Alarms Cost You Money?" Angieslist. April 11, 2016. Accessed June 26, 2018. https://www.angieslist.com/articles/do-false-alarms-cost-you-money.htm.
2. "NFPA Journal." NFPA. Accessed July 31, 2018. https://www.nfpa.org/News-and-Research/Publications/NFPA-Journal/2017/November-December-2017/In-Compliance/NFPA-72.
3. "3 Ways to Stop False Alarms." Eyewitness Surveillance. January 20, 2018. Accessed June 26, 2018. https://www.eyewitnesssurveillance.com/3-ways-stop-false-alarms-prevent-penalty-fees/.
4. Cambridge, City Of. "False Alarm Billing Information." Commuting - Traffic, Parking & Transportation Department - City of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Accessed July 31, 2018. https://www.cambridgema.gov/cfd/firedeptdivisions/firepreventionbureau/generalinformation/falsealarmbillinginformation.
5. "ADT Home Security | False Alarms." ADT Home Security | ADT History. Accessed July 31, 2018. https://www.homesecurity.io/false-alarms.
6. "CHAPTER 7 FIRE SAFETY REQUIREMENTS | 2018 International Property Maintenance Code | ICC PublicACCESS." CHAPTER 3 USE AND OCCUPANCY CLASSIFICATION | 2015 International Building Code | ICC PublicACCESS. Accessed July 31, 2018. https://codes.iccsafe.org/public/document/IPMC2018/chapter-7-fire-safety-requirements.
7. "Troubleshooting FAQs." Residential Security. Accessed June 26, 2018. https://www.adt.com/help/faq/troubleshooting.