How to Avoid False Alarms

_false_alarm_reductionThe False Alarm Reduction Association is committed to reducing false alarms. Members are employed by government and public safety agencies, along with alarm industry and other professionals.

We have created a wealth of information to help alarm users use their systems effectively while reducing false alarms.

An alarm system can bring you a sense of security and peace of mind and is effective with proper installation, adequate training and regular maintenance.

User Training Video

FARA worked with the North Texas Alarm Association, Texas Burglar & Fire Alarm Association and the National Electronic Security Alliance to create a video that can be used to train alarm users about false alarms. Click Here to View the Alarm User Video.

Choose the Right Company

FARA has developed information designed to protect alarm users from unscrupulous alarm dealers  Click here for Alarm User Protection Information.

Do Your Homework

Poorly used, installed or maintained systems can cause significant problems for the consumer and public safety officials alike. Therefore, it is important for alarm users to do their homework before buying and installing an alarm system. Click on the titles below for more Information

How Can I Reduce False Alarms?

There are several successful false alarm reduction techniques that have been proven to reduce the likelihood of false alarms.

  • Train all Users: Educate all alarm system users on the proper use of the alarm system.
  • Fix Any Problems: Schedule a service call if the alarm is not working properly.
  • Use ECV – Enhanced Call Verification: ECV is an alarm monitoring procedure requiring that a minimum of two calls be made to two different alarm user telephone numbers prior to requesting public safety dispatch. Typically, one of the phone numbers is the alarm user’s cell phone.
  • Update Contact Info: Make sure the contact numbers on file with your alarm company are always up to date. Be proactive and add your alarm company’s phone number to your cell phone contact list.
  • If You Give Them A Key – Give Them the Codes: To avoid false alarms, ensure that persons with access to your location (Scheduled workers, Maintenance, Cleaners/Cleaning Crews, House or Pet Sitters & Landscapers) have the proper temporary codes and passwords for your alarm system.
  • Cross Zone: This is an alarm monitoring technique that requires more than one zone in your burglar alarm system to fault or trip before public safety is notified.  For example, a perimeter and an interior motion alarm would both have to trip within a specified period of time in order to summon public safety. In this situation, if an interior motion trips but the perimeter does not, the alarm company will not request a public safety dispatch.
  • Follow the ANSI/SIA Control Panel Standard (CP-01): CP-01 is a standard that addresses the settings on control panels to avoid the most common cause of false alarms; user error. Alarm users should ask their alarm companies to use panels that comply with CP-01.
  • Take Care With Pets: Talk to your alarm company about installing pet friendly devices or changing your system design to accommodate pets.
  • Check On Any Displays: Always ensure that hanging or moving decorations will not activate motion detectors, especially when heating systems come on.
  • Take Care When Rearranging: Before rearranging your furniture or putting up the new spring curtains or drapes, first determine whether the design change would interfere with the operation of your motion detectors.
  • Check Before Remodeling: Always contact your alarm company prior to starting any remodeling project. You need to work with your alarm company to make sure the remodeling process does not cause false alarms and that your system will continue to work properly after the work is completed.
  • Check Your Batteries: Like all batteries, your backup has a useful life of about 3 to 5 years, but that life may be shortened if you have had several power outages. Your system battery should be checked annually, or after any storm related false alarm, by an alarm technician and replaced when needed.
  • Use Video or Audio Verification:  When utilized in an electronic security application, it allows the monitoring center to either “hear” or “see” into the protected premise to determine if an intruder is present.

How Should I Use Duress, Hold-Up & Panic Alarms?

Duress, hold-up and panic alarms are designed to allow alarm users to activate the system under specific emergency situations when they are unable to dial 9-1-1. These types of alarms generally result in a heightened response, sometimes with lights and sirens, due to a raised likelihood of a criminal event in progress. Therefore, activating these types of alarms in non-emergency situations could result in stiff penalties and fines to the alarm user. It is very important that alarm users understand that activation of these types of alarms in non-emergency or improper situations may place law enforcement officers, alarm users and the general public at increased risk.

 When NOT to use your duress, hold-up or panic alarm:

  • When you need fire or medical assistance
  • To check to see how long it takes law enforcement officers to respond
  • When someone has shoplifted merchandise
  • To report a fight in the parking lot
  • When an underage person attempts to buy alcohol
  • To report that a vehicle has been stolen
  • Any other circumstance in which you are not in a life-threatening or emergency situation

When it is appropriate to use your duress, hold-up or panic alarm:

  • In emergency situations when you are unable to dial 9-1-1 for law enforcement assistance
  • During a robbery or hold-up in progress
  • When you are physically threatened  [/expand]


And of course if you share our commitment to reducing false alarms we invite you to join our association. Click here to learn how.