Remember to Pay your Alarm Fees

A recent story in Spokane Sportsman-Review in Washington reminds us of an important point: When alarm registration fees are assessed by a local police department, it is important to pay them. If not, you may get delayed service.

The story in the Spokesman-Review explained how a local business had not paid its registration fees. The fees that the city collects help offset the cost of sending vehicles and personnel to false dispatch calls. The goal, the ordinance says, is “to assure that responses to false alarms do not diminish the availability of police services to the general public.”
convenience store
Cities that establish fees and fines in their alarm ordinances do so for a reason: To cover the costs of administering the program. If alarm owners are recalcitrant, that constrains the police and their ability to respond. No one wants a delayed response to an alarm.

SIAC encourages you to stay on top of your responsibilities if you are a business or home with an alarm system. Be aware of registration and re-registration periods for your alarm permits. If you are assessed a fine, make sure to pay it in a timely manner. It’s the responsible and right thing to do.

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Take on what you can Manage

We’re a firm believer in never taking on more than you can manage. Make a simple change, see what the results are, then determine what’s next. For some companies that means take it one step at a time. For security companies with more layers of management/oversight, and that work on multiple projects, it may mean determine your limits and make sure you can handle what is on your plate before you move to the next issue
business results
This concept applies to how you run your business AND improving your alarm management practices. We have a host of these on our web site,, but SIAC does not encourage companies to take on many new procedures all at once. Instead, pick the ones where you can demonstrate sustained success, then build on them.

For example, two-call verification (Enhanced Call Verification – ECV) takes knowledge (regarding how to implement the procedure), requires training for your employees, and mandates that you follow up to determine how successful it has been, and where you may need to troubleshoot to improve implementation. It’s a lot to take on. If you were changing your equipment standards and giving your employees new instructions to share with customers during installations, that’s a lot for you to undertake at once.

Easily, you could over-burden yourself or find that alarm management improvements you seek aren’t actually occurring. In fact, quite possibly things could go in the wrong direction.

So step back when you look at how you want to help customers reduce unnecessary alarm activations. Pick the areas where you know you can improve with a sustained effort. Execute on them. See where it takes you. Then look for the next opportunity. You’ll find yourself more on top of the issues, and able to clearly see results. That’s important to help improve performance.

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Pierce County, WA Continues to Show Consistent Reduction in Unwanted Alarm Activations

Pierce County, WA continues its consistent year-after-year reduction in calls for police dispatch to burglar alarms, based on recently released statistics. Their alarm coordinator, Diana McInelly, has been with the program since the 1990s, and governs it with a reasoned hand. Having educated and dedicated professionals like Diana running alarm management programs at the local level is one of the keys to success.
piere county
Beyond that, we also want to thank our SIAC staff member for the Pacific Northwest, Ron Haner, for his involvement in helping to get key provisions enacted, and staying on top of the process, both when provisions were initially being proposed, and following up over the years. Ron looks into the county’s statistics and has some strong numbers for the program to share.

The statistical pattern since 1997 shows a consistent decline in calls for police dispatch. That means unnecessary alarm activations are being reduced or the calls that go to police are being weeded out by two-call (enhanced call) verification. Regardless, the nice result is police make fewer trips to homes or businesses to check on alarms, and have more time to devote their resources on their top priorities. That’s a good thing, in our opinion.

Year-to-date numbers show 559 dispatches for burglar alarms. That is a 91 percent reduction from pre-ordinance numbers and puts the county on track for 1,118 for the year. To put that number in perspective, in 2007, there were 6,625 burglar dispatches. That’s a reduction in annual dispatches of over 5,500 in 8 years. Though the decrease in dispatches over the years fluctuates a bit on a month-by-month basis, in general the trend is one of a declining number of dispatch calls.

Good alarm ordinances lead to positive results like these in Pierce County. In addition, commitment to the alarm management program at the local level by people like Diana McInelly is a huge asset in making the system work the way it should. Finally, we’re also proud to say that when you have a SIAC staff person engaged who stays on top of the issues, and is available to troubleshoot, like Ron Haner, the alarm program has three major pillars for the stool to remain sturdy. SIAC salutes you all.

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ESA Leadership Summit Coming to Chandler, Arizona

SIAC is a big fan of the Electronic Security Association’s (ESA) “Leadership Summit.” It’s an annual affair, typically held in the winter (January or February) in a warmer climate so companies up north can get a bit of sunshine and others get a chance to see a different part of the U.S.

Beyond the change of scenery, the speakers offer great leadership lessons and fresh insights. It’s an excellent networking and learning event.

This year, ESA is bringing the sessions to Chandler, AZ, January 31-February 3, 2016. We urge you to attend. This year’s title is, “Link. Learn. Lead.” The event will be held at the Wild Horse Pass Hotel and Casino, and we know that’s the type of venue many will enjoy.

Saddle up. Plan your schedule now. We will be there, and hope you are, too. Go to for more information.

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Following Up on Unwanted Alarms Should be Routine

A recent story in SecurityInfoWatch details a burglary in a Washington gun store ( According to the news report, employees ignored the alarm because it had previously been tripped by rodents. When a real alarm occurred, they chose not to pay attention. A huge number of guns were stolen from the store as a result.
gun store

That type of complacency is dangerous, and it’s an important reminder as to why you should follow-up with every customer who has an unwanted alarm trip. The best alarm companies make this a daily practice. Systems should be regularly checked and serviced by the alarm company, and a report given to the business on how they can operate their security system most effectively. This service is good for the retailer and also serves an important function for the security company.

By visiting with the customer, you get a better feel for problems they may be encountering with their security system. Not only can you then fix any problems, but you can take time to explain to the customer why the issue arose. Additionally, during these types of customer visits, you have the opportunity to explain new equipment or services you offer customers, and perhaps upgrade their system.

If a customer refuses to let you service a system, always document the date and time the call was placed, and if possible get the name of the person who refused to let you schedule service. If there is a subsequent break-in and loss, you’ve significantly reduced your liability.

These services calls ensure a more smoothly functioning security system, which also means unnecessary alarm activations are reduced. That’s a great side benefit to your visit. The customer is happier, the police are happier and that reflects well on your business.

If you know of a situation where unwanted alarm activations are occurring with too much frequency, check it out immediately. Set up a customer visit. It benefits everyone.

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Keep Good Technicians

If you are a systems integrator, and have good technicians at your company, take extra steps to keep them on board. A quality technician provides many intangibles. They include:

• Good people skills. The top people listen to customers, explain the value, equipment and operation of the security system they install or fix. That bond with the customer helps your company build its reputation in a positive way.

• Highly trained. Send your technicians to extra training every year. Get them started with the right training tools, and keep helping them expand their skills. That gives your company an advantage in terms of the effectiveness of your installations, and cuts down on customer service calls.

• On time. Being on time is one of the most important qualities that good technicians have. They set up a time and show up when they say they will. Customers aren’t left waiting. If they happen to be late, they make sure to contact the customer immediately to let her know of the delay. This builds a stronger connection with customers, demonstrates responsibility and shows the customer’s time is valued.
Give a shout out to your technicians. Recognize the important work they do for you. Having the right people, retaining them, and helping them develop is important to the bottom line of any electronic security company. And, as an added bonus, those talented technicians help reduce unnecessary alarm activations. We love that part, too.

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David Margulies a Featured Speaker at CSAA Annual Meeting

As the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) re-imagines its annual meeting, a unique group of speakers will give presentations on a range of security-related issues, including David Margulies, who handles media relations for us here at SIAC. We look forward to hearing David speak during the sessions October 10-14 in Sonoma, CA. His presentations are interesting, cutting edge, and help companies build their brand and understand how to deal with crisis communications situations.
“Over the next several years, CSAA will be restructuring our traditional annual meeting in order to bring the greatest possible value to our members who attend,” said CSAA President Pamela Petrow in a CSAA press release. The security world continues to evolve. CSAA is looking to add content that improves the bottom line for those companies attending the sessions.

Margulies presentation is titled, “Protect Your Reputation: Crisis Management in the Cyber Age.” He will demonstrate to attendees that “what you don’t know about crisis management in the Cyber Age can kill your business.” He will share strategies and tactics for managing unforeseen events to protect company brand and reputation.

The keynote speaker will be Stan Stahl, Ph.D., President of Citadel Information Group, an information security management services firm. He will speak on: “Meeting the Information Security Management Challenge: The Financial Implications of Cybercrime on the Alarm Monitoring Industry” (Sponsored by Honeywell Security Products).

We hope to see you there. You can find out more on CSAA’s annual meeting at:

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