Breaking News… Nope, Just a False Alarm!

By Gene Stifter,

Even though safety devices have been installed, many companies still worry about a disaster striking … fire, break-in, or air pollution due to smoke, carbon monoxide, or gas leakage. The government has mandated the installation of alarms and alerts to keep the public safe in office buildings, hospitals, restaurants, hotel and new home construction. Better systems continually emerge in the marketplace and new audio and video technology facilitates interaction between monitoring companies and victims. Even robbers can be warded off with a commanding voice message that "the police are on their way!" These burglary and life-saving alarms are needed, but there is more to do to protect your company, your employees, your consumers, and the public.

False Alarms Are Making News Headlines

Yes, false alarms have risen substantially in the past few years and these non-emergency calls to local authorities can actually be detrimental to the overall success of your alarm system. False alarms can lead to devastating consequences and endanger the lives and health of those they are meant to protect.

Let me share a statistic with you. In 2014, the Greensboro Police Department responded to 13,422 alarm calls. While you may think this high number of alarms shows that homes and businesses in the area were adequately protected, think about this: Of those 13,422 alarm calls, only 54 were valid! This lack of "real emergencies" not only puts a strain on public safety resources, it also impacts businesses in the long run.

Here's another example of how false alarms can impact the public's safety. A fire at a senior-living complex in Texas resulted in many elders stranded in their rooms and on stairways and the death of several people. Some residents cited the frequency of false alarms as the reason for not reacting quickly to get out of the burning building. According to an Associated Press story, one resident said he felt no urgency when he first heard the alarm.

Of course, public safety is paramount, but there is another problem with false alarms … fines. Many municipalities have instituted fines for responding to false alarms. In some instances, these can be pretty steep. Greensboro issued more than $500,000 in false alarm citations in 2014.

False Alarms Can Be Prevented

Protection systems are good, but monitoring systems must be effective as well. Professional monitoring centers can offer security solutions, loss prevention services, and life safety technologies such as digital video surveillance, access control, fire and intrusion alarms, and video analytics that will decrease the number of false alarms sent to law enforcement, fire, and emergency services. Customized plans can be created and implemented in any place of business, large or small. Automated reporting tools can deliver real-time information and help reduce false alarms. Well-trained monitor operators can identify alarms requiring emergency services and reduce false alarm dispatches.

Here's a success story: Tudor Oaks Community, a retirement facility of 450 residents, recognized that its antiquated fire alarm system had to be upgraded. Today the facility has installed speaker systems, CCTV cameras, horn strobes, smoke sensors, carbon dioxide detectors, and fire alarm systems that can trigger alerts in various areas of the building in order to facilitate speedy evacuations, day and night.

It's Up to You to Decrease False Alarms!

Don't put it off! It's time to evaluate your safety systems… are they in need of twenty-first century technology? Will your current system adequately protect those in your charge?


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