The second in a three-part series from SIAC’s Ron Walters
Certainly the easiest solution to the issue of nuisance alarm activations in public buildings is not to exempt any category of occupancy from the provisions of the ordinance, but realistically this isn’t always going to happen. So what other solutions can be applied?
The first place to look for a solution may be in the alarm equipment.
Over 75% of all dispatches are due to user error. In locations where there are many users of the alarm system, being able to identify the person who created the dispatch can go a long way in educating these individual(s). Virtually all alarm equipment is capable of assigning multiple key codes. If this is combined with transmitting data to the monitoring point then we will know who created the problem and target them for training.
There are also issues regarding how many people actually need access after hours. Limiting access will also have a cumulative impact on reducing dispatches.
Additional steps can be taken to establish responsibility for alarm systems in public buildings. In Phoenix, the police identified those managers who had an alarm system as part of their sphere of responsibility. The police educated these individuals on the proper use of alarm systems. At that point all annual reviews of these individuals included the performance of the alarm systems.
Establishing responsibility for the performance of alarm systems is key to addressing the problem. In Gwinnett, County Georgia schools were exempted from the alarm ordinance and their performance was the worst of all occupancies in the county. The police met with Superintendent of schools, who provided them with cellular and home phone numbers of every school principal. These principals became the first contact on every alarm activation and within a few weeks the problems solved themselves.
Again in Phoenix, the alarm unit created an alarm school for “abusers” (those with multiple dispatches in any 12 month period) modeled after traffic schools. By attending the school, these individuals received a certificate that entitled them to one free pass from a fine. After 8 years, more than 90% of the attendees had not experienced another false dispatch.
For these occupancies the curriculum could easily be adapted to specifically educate users of systems in public buildings and in particular, schools.
Stayed tuned to SIAC’s blog for our conclusion next week.