An Earnest Proposal for Solving the Problem of False Alarms - Part 1

False alarms are choking our industry... Isn't it time we looked at the technical causes of these nuisance calls?


But let's take an example: The owner is away at work and at 2:30 p.m. when the monitoring station gets an alarm indication from the residence. Remember, the owner is at work. Law enforcement responds, finds nothing and reports an apparent false alarm and another black mark is placed against electronic physical security systems.

Who or what is to blame? Is it the owner, system or component manufacturer, installer, environment, phone company, electric utility company or the monitoring equipment? Do we know if it was a perimeter sensor or an interior sensor? Do we know if there was excess noise on the phone line? Do we know if there was an electrical power anomaly?

We know one thing for sure, government entities have issued ordinances or are planning to do so that impose fines, and failing that, will move to non-response policies.

So, before they do that, we need to find out what's causing these "false" alarms.

[Editor's note: Available on March 29, 2005, the second part of this Bill Warnock's "Earnest Proposal" will take a look at the sources of failure in a building or home and the interference that can lead to a false alarm. It examines what facility systems can come into play when an alarm is tripped and looks at mechanical and electrical systems that either help create or prevent false alarms.]

About the author: William J. Warnock is a private security consultant specializing in comprehensive physical security inspections and surveys, and supervised court security from 1985 to 1991 for the U.S. Marshals Services. He directed the special security upgrades for the District Courthouse in Washington, D.C., and developed the residential security guide used by security and law enforcement personnel in conducting surveys of federal, state, and municipal judges' residences. He has also overseen security operations within the U.S. Army.