Public Buildings and Curbing Unnecessary Alarm Activations

Part one in a three-part series from SIAC’s Ron Walters

For over a decade the alarm industry, working in concert with various law enforcement associations and law enforcement agencies, has identified the Best Practices that, when applied will deliver the highest reductions in dispatch requests for public response to alarm systems. Through this process we have also been able to identify issues that must be a part of any effective reduction effort or the maximum results will not be achieved.

While one might believe that there aren’t enough alarm systems in public buildings, the truth is this is simply not the case. Public dwellings have, and continue to be, one of the thorniest issues to address when it comes to reduce unwanted dispatches. This occurs for a variety of reasons. Statistically though, these buildings continue to have a disproportionate share of nuisance alarms.

When the City of New Britain, CT, for example, was proposing the cessation of response to alarm systems, they found that the largest abusers were actually government buildings. Following is some of the information provided to the City Council.

• “The Top “25” Locations-Police Alarms: “Over the past six years, police officers responded to 3,471 different buildings in the city for alarm activations. The top 25 of these locations represent just 7/10 of one percent of the total addresses, but reflect 12% of the service demand. This is disproportionate by any measure. More embarrassing is the fact that ten of these locations are city schools and more than half are governmental buildings.”

• “The Top “25” Locations-Fire: “Over the past six years, firefighters responded to 778 different buildings in the City for alarm activations. The top 25 of those locations represent just 7/10 of one percent of the total addresses in the city but reflect almost 36% of the service demand. Five of these locations (all city schools) also appear on the list of top ‘25’ locations for police alarms.”

The City of Aurora, CO adopted a policy of non-response to alarms, and exempted public buildings. After one year of enforcement they had reduced dispatches by 75%, meaning that governmental occupancies represented 25% of the call load while only representing .02% of the alarm sites in the city.

(Stay tuned for next week’s SIAC blog, when we address solutions for these facilities.)

About justwrite15

Dave's column has run in multiple small town newspapers across the U.S., in Nebraska, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Texas,where Dave has been able to entice personal friends and editors to run his social commentary. His column has also been picked up by It has appeared in newspapers since 1998, and began in response to one of the school shootings so depressingly familiar in America. His commentary has morphed into a weekly offering of humor, insights and advice on how to find sanity in an insane world.
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