Anyone can set up a security company in this country, but there are two bodies in the security industry. The Security Systems and Inspection Board (S.S.A.I.B) and the United Kingdom Accredited Standards (UKAS) – which set standards and controls for their member firms. IFire UK Ltd is a full member of both these organisations.
Whoever you employ should state that the installation and maintenance of the alarm systems they sell conform to the British Standard for intruder alarms in buildings (BS4737)
You can also get details of local alarm installers with a proven track record from the police; contact your local crime prevention officer for advice.
Choosing The Alarm System
The first choice you have to make is whether to have a stand-alone alarm or one linked to a monitoring station. The latter will generally cost more, but gives you the additional peace of mind of knowing that someone will call the police if the system detects a break-in at any time of day or night. Most systems also offer fire protection, and some feature personal emergency pager – worth considering if you live alone and are frail, disabled or in poor health.
The second choice is the system itself. He or she should ask you about how you use your home, should identify any weak points that need additional protection, and should thoroughly explain the system on offer and its components. You can choose from a fully wired alarm system or wireless alarm system.
Specific points to ask about include the following.
Zones – the system should allow you to protect separate zones of the house individually, especially the downstairs at night and rooms where pets sleep (most systems can be set not to react to small creatures). It is useful to have spare zone capacity in case you want to expand the system in the future.
Personal attacks and fire protection – the system should include panic buttons by the front door and in the master bedroom so that you can trigger the alarm even if it is not set. A monitored system offering fire protection is connected to a serious of smoke detectors.
Tamper circuits – the system should be designed to detect attempts at cutting off any of the detection zones or the wires to the external bell box. The more separate circuits it has, the easier it is to find where the tampering has occurred.
Walk test facility – this allows you to check the operation of the detection devices without triggering the external alarm.
Code numbers – modern alarms have a numeric keypad and are set and disarmed by entering a four-digit code which you can select and change at will. Some offer the option of having two or more different codes, allowing one to be used as a temporary code – by a neighbour minding the house while you are on holiday, for example. Some control panels have a separate keypad, allowing you to position the main control panel out of sight – a cupboard, say.
Power supply – ask how the system will be powered, and how much any necessary mains wiring will cost. The ideal is for the system to have its own circuit, which should not be protected by a residual current device (RCD) the case an electrical fault elsewhere in the house cuts its power supply, and its backup battery runs down.
Phone codes changes – in view of the fact that UK national dialling codes may change from time to time, ask what is involved in any necessary reprogramming of a monitored alarm system and who has to pay for the work.
Alarm companies generally encourage you to sign a service or maintenance contract with them, such a contract is mandatory with monitored alarms to cover the cost of the monitoring system service. The police and BS4737 both recommend regular servicing since around 90% of alarms are falsely activated. However, it pays to examine the cost and the length of such a contract; IFire UK Ltd offers always maintains a clear and concise contract policy with all its clients.
If you have a bell only alarm, you’re not obliged to take out a contract with the firm installing unless your house insurance company insists. Whatever service contract you take on, check that what will it be covered in terms of parts, labour and callout charges, especially outside normal working hours. All IFire UK Ltd service contracts include all of those mentioned.
Rent or Buy?
Most firms offer a choice of outright purchase of the equipment or a rental agreement where you buy the circuit wiring but rent the other system components. Purchasing outright is generally the more expensive option, but does avoid the risk of tying yourself to contractual obligations. Beware of unscrupulous security companies who issue rental agreement’s that allows the firm to increase prices at will, often obliges you to agree to a lengthy maintenance contract and gives the firm the right to remove the equipment if a dispute arises over costs or service levels. Here at IFire UK Ltd we always treat our clients with the respect they deserve and never tie them into an unnecessary complex and long contract periods.