Improve the Effectiveness of Your Alarm System

Business owners can lower the chances of large property losses, production delays, material loss, or even a total loss of their business with preventive measures. One such tool to lower the risk factor is the installation of an alarm system. An alarm system alerts those individuals on-site and it can send a signal to a monitoring service company. Alarm systems help deter potential break-ins, keep customers and employees safe during emergency situations, and provides quick notification allowing for faster response times.

What is an alarm system?

An alarm system is a network of sensors that sends a signal to the control panel when turned on and triggered. Several items can be monitored by an alarm system, such as: detection of smoke, presence of fire, building invasion, motion detectors, door sensors, class breakage and room temperature.

What is the difference between a local alarm and a central alarm?

Local Alarm. When a local alarm system is activated it sets off a siren, horn, bell or even strobe lights on-site. There is no notification sent directly to the fire department, police department or business owner.

Central Alarm System. A central alarm system control panel is monitored by an alarm monitoring service. When the control panel is activated it communicates (usually via a telephone line) with the monitoring company, who then notifies the appropriate party. The alarm company is monitoring the system 24/7.

What is the communication link between the control panel and the monitoring company?

The most common method of communication is via telephone line(s), however a monitored alarm system is only as good as its communication link to the monitoring company. If the telephone line is disabled, cut or unreliable, then unfortunately, there is a delay in notification or even a chance that no notification will be sent at all. This is also the slowest speed of transmission as telephone numbers must be dialed; it can take up to two minutes to notify the fire department from the time the control panel is activated and the phone call is actually received by the fire department.

Is there a communication alternative?

Yes, the alternative is an Advance Encryption Standard (AES) connection. AES is a two-way radio transmission wireless alarm communication system that is self-configuring. It is faster and it has a built-in backup system. It can use two-way transceivers for communicating data between the control panel located at the business site to the central receiver at the monitoring location. Wireless signals can be rerouted around trouble spots with the signal being continuously sent until it is received and an acknowledgement is sent back. There is no longer a concern of someone cutting the telephone line to disable your monitoring system. Plus, AES systems are usually more cost effective and cheaper then telephone line communication. Your AES system should be National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) compliant and UL approved.

When it comes to risk management, prevention is key. Browse our online risk control library for handouts and useful websites to help facilitate your safety and health efforts.


Sherry is a graduate of Washburn University with over 15 years of experience in the insurance industry, including: customer service, sales, agent, marketing, premium audit and loss control. She has spent the past six years working as a Risk Control Field Representative.

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