Tips for Choosing An Alarm Company

The Orange County Alarm Association recommends the following steps for consumers to take to help make the right decision in choosing the services of a reputable security and fire alarm installation company.

  • Ask your family, friends or business associates for referrals.
  • Contact at least 3 alarm companies for a quote.

Prior to making an appointment, ask the alarm company the following questions:

  • Are they a member of the national, state and local associations?
  • Do they possess the appropriate licenses for work to be performed?
  • Are their employees registered as “alarm agents” with the state?
  • Do they have worker’s compensation and general liability insurance?

When a company representative visits, ask them for their identification and for the following:

  • A security inspection
  • Recommendations with a written proposal
  • A list of referrals

ALARM SYSTEM DESIGN

“Understanding Vulnerable Points”

 
Before you attempt to design an alarm system, you must know what valuables you are protecting.  You must then understand all the vulnerable points of entry into your residence or business.

CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING:

Entering the Premises
It has been determined that 90% of break-ins occur through the front door.  About 6% are through windows, 3% via roof access and 1% through walls.

Risk of Property
After determining how a burglar may enter the premises, consider the property you want to protect.  First, determine the value of these items.  Next, evaluate which items are more prone to theft.  Higher value items need more alarm system design consideration.

WHEN BURGLARIES ARE MOST LIKELY TO OCCUR

Commercial burglaries occur when the business is closed (generally during nighttime hours or on long weekends).  Many burglaries occur in the early morning daylight hours just before the business opens.

Residential burglaries typically occur when the home is not occupied (85%).  A large portion of illegal entries occur during daylight hours especially when the household is at work or school.

COMPONENTS OF AN ALARM SYSTEM

Control Unit
The control unit is the brains of the alarm system.  All detectors and arming stations report to the control unit.  This unit also determines if you are able to put fire protection on your system as well as expanding your system at a later date.

Detectors
Intrusion protective devices include door and window contacts, motion sensors, glass break detectors and more.  These devices serve as the detection sensors of the system.  They alert the system’s control unit of an unwanted entry, activate the sounding devices, and send alarm signals to a central station.  Ask the alarm company about the different forms of perimeter protection, what they recommend and why they recommend that type of protection.

Monitoring
The alarm control panel is capable of sending signals to a central station monitoring facility that provides information about the protective status of the home or business.  When the signal is received at the central station, it tells the operator what kind of signal it is and in most cases is able to give the location of where the alarm has been activated.  This information is quickly given to the authorities and aids them in their response.  In addition, you or other designated persons can be made aware of an emergency or informed of other system alerts such as a low battery warning.  In commercial applications, the alarm control can be programmed to notify you if and when an alarm system is armed for the evening and if and when the system is disarmed in the morning.  Ask the security company about other central station monitoring options.

Licensing
Any company that installs, services or monitors burglar alarm systems in California is required to be licensed by the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services Department of Consumer Affairs.  The alarm company is issued an Alarm Company Operator (ACO) number that should be on all bids, contracts and advertising.  Greater Los Angeles Security Alarm Association members must possess and maintain this license.

Many companies install additional types of systems that require a separate California State Contractors License.  These include:

Fire Alarms
CSLB# with a C10 Classification

Intercom
Audio/Video Systems-Telephone Systems
CSLB# with a C-7 or C10 Classification

Electronic Access Control Systems
CSLB# with a C-7, C10 or C28 Classification.