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How to Select a Burglar Alarm System!

22nd Feb 2012

For those that require advice on selecting the correct burglar alarm system for their premises, the following information will show the various systems that are available to protect your home, business or place of work.

The History of the Burglar Alarm

From its invention back in 1850 by Boston inventor Augustus Pope through to its commercial development by Edwin Holmes & Thomas Watson in 1858, the burglar alarm has come a long way in the last 160 years. Today the burglar alarm system has been developed to assist us in the management of our property with its main function still being able to alert us of any un-wanted guests or visitors on our premises.

Burglar Alarm technology today has not only being used to detect burglars, but has been developed to assist in other areas of home and business security. These now include smoke and fire detection, panic and a personal duress facility. Other features including integrated building management are now part of most commercial alarm installations.

Today all burglar alarm systems come under the control of the European and British Alarm Standards that ensures that the quality of the installation and the company carrying out the work have been certified and approved by one of the countries Alarm Inspection Bodies. This ensures that each installation has been fully assessed for all risks and that the proposed detection equipment fully meets the grading requirements for that level of risk.

Types of Burglar Alarm Systems  

Audible - Commonly know as a “Bells Only” Alarm System. This is a basic alarm system that would normally comprise of detection devices including Door Contacts and Internal [PIR] Detection Sensors, with internal and external warning devices. The system would be controlled by the use of a user code and allow various levels for full and part set levels.

Wireless – Today’s wireless burglar alarm systems are continually being developed by various manufacturers and comprise of many features not found on a “Bells Only” alarm system. The benefit of wireless over a wired system is little or no disruption to the premises, with no additional wiring required to each detection unit this will lead to less installation time on site. Other features can include Code/Fob or Proximity Tag operation, built-in SMS Text Facility or Digi Modem should remote monitoring be required to an Alarm Receiving Centre. With this technology also comes the ability on some systems to Talk-in & Listen-in on the premises and to remotely control the system from your mobile telephone, including controlling lighting and heating systems.

Monitored – The basis of a monitored alarm system is to take the signals generated by the alarm system and transfer them to an Alarm Receiving Centre [ARC] for processing. With this technology also comes Home Automation that now allows customers to talk / listen and view their premises from their smart phone or computer, including controlling their lighting and heating systems from the comfort of their place of work.

Available methods of Notification & Remote Signalling include:

Voice [PSTN] - SMS Text [ PSTN & GSM] - Digicom [PSTN] – Dualcom [PSTN & GPRS] – BT Redcare [PSTN & GPRS] – IP [Internet]

Obtaining a Police Response

To obtain a Police response to any alarm system the installation company selected must comply with ACPO Alarm Force Policy by being able to issue a Certificate of Compliance when applying for a Police URN [Unique Reference Number]. Today because of the number of false alarm activations the Police will expect the alarm system to comply with BS 8243:2010 – False Alarm Management. This means that the alarm operator can only expect a Police response to a *Confirmed" alarm activation. [Two separate zones being triggered with a set time scale] 

Alarm Maintenance & Repairs

The most important part of any burglar alarm installation is to ensure that the alarm installer selected offers a 24 hour after sales maintenance and emergency repair service with a 4 hour response. This is vital should your alarm system develop a fault in the future and thus cause a nuisance alarm in your community.
Maintenance or the regular testing of any alarm system is vital to maintain its efficiency and thus prevent false alarm activations, should the alarm system develop a fault or have a power failure in the future.

Insurance Company Approval

Because of the insurance industries involvement in the current alarm installation standards all new installations should meet with their approval before the start of any alarm installation. This is to ensure that the risk assessment and grade of burglar alarm installation proposed by your alarm installer clearly meets both your own requirements and those of your insurance Broker/Company.

How to Choose Your Alarm Installer

These are the questions that everybody installing a burglar alarm should be asking, because these are the questions that your insurance company will be asking you.

Q1.  Is your Alarm Installation Company – [ABI] Insurance Approved?

Q2.  Is your Alarm Installer a Member of the SSAIB or NSI?

Q3.  Is your Alarm Installer ACPO/Police Compliant Installer?

Q4.  Is your Alarm Installer certified to provide a Risk Assessment?

Q5.  Can your Alarm Installer provide a written Alarm Quotation & Design Proposal?

Q6.   Can your Alarm Installer provide a Certificate of Compliance on Completion?

Q7.  Can your Alarm Installer provide Police Response Monitoring?

Q8.  Does your Alarm Installer hold Liability & Efficacy Insurance?

Q9.  Does your Alarm Installer provide a 24Hr Alarm Maintenance & Repair Service?

Q10. Does your Alarm Installer provide a “Free” No Obligation Survey & Quotation?

A Selection of Alarm Equipment Manufactures

Important Links

  1. ACPO Police Policy – www.acpo.police.uk
  2. ABI – Association of British Insurers - www.abi.org.uk
  3. SSAIB – Security Systems Alarms Inspection Board - www.ssaib.org
  4. NSI – National Security Inspectorate - www.nsi.org.uk

Burglary Statistics

21st Feb 2012