A Consumer Guide for Electronic Intruder Alarm Systems
CRITERIA FOR SELECTING ELECTRONIC SECURITY SERVICES
The following checklist will provide consumers with a guide to obtaining professional qualified security products and services:
- Is the Company represented by a member of the Security Agents Institute of WA.
- Check that the Security Provider is Police Licensed in accordance with the Security and Related Activities (Control) Act 1996 to conduct the services requested.
- Request to sight the license of the consultant, installer or other service person.
- Obtain at least three quotations for the products or services to be provided, including:
- A clear description of the products and/or the services being provided (including brochures)
- Product and Labour Warranty Terms.
- Preventative Maintenance Options.
- Comissioning and Training instructions.
- Payment Terms and Conditions.
- What type of monitoring, if any, is being provided and what is the contract period and cost?
- Be sure to read and understand the quotation/contract clearly before signing.
Evidence indicates that having an alarm system is an effective deterrent against burglary.
An alarm system should be tailored to you individual requirements, security risk and installed by a licensed security professional.
An alarm is designed to deter a would be intruder. However, the primary function of the system is to signal the presence of the intruder. An alarm system is only part of the overall protection needed and it is important to recognise that the successful operation of a system depends not only on the equipment but its installation, maintenance, and use.
It is therefore important that the alarm be installed to all relevant Australian Standards which will include (AS 2201) Part 1. Before signing any contracts for installation of an alarm system, check that the alarm conforms to this standard. Also ask the consultant to show you their license.
A security system should not be purchased on price alone. As with most electronic equipment, components can vary greatly in quality and performance. Time should be taken to fully evaluate the various systems available before making a decision.
An alarm system is a technical device and preventative maintenance should be taken out at least once and preferably twice per year. It is highly recommended that a maintenance program is entered into with the installing company to ensure the effective working of the security system.
It is also very important that should any alterations be made to the building or the environment of the premises secured, the installing company is informed so that modifications can be carried out on the system, to suit the new requirements.
THE PARTS OF AN ALARM SYSTEM
ALARM CONTROL PANEL
This is the “brain” of any alarm system in which information is received, decisions made and instructions are given. The Panel is equipped with a backup battery so that in the case of a mains power failure the alarm system will automatically switch to the battery thus allowing the alarm system to operate to full capacity. It is usually located out of sight within a cupboard or walk in robe etc. and within the area covered by a detection device.
The system is usually operated by a key switch or digital code pad remotely located from the control panel and near the entry/exit point. The code pad should have indicators to show the full status of the system and be located within a protected area.
This device is an important part of the alarm system. Its purpose is to sound a loud warning alarm within the building to let the intruders know that there is an alarm system, and to make it very uncomfortable for them.
EXTERNAL SIREN AND STROBE
This is the part of the alarm system which is erected outside the house and its purpose is to attract the attention of passersby or neighbours after the alarm panel activates it.
The sirens are usually a water resistant horn type speaker encased in a steel or polycarbonate box for security and mounted in a high position on an external surface. Most external sirens run on power supplied from the alarm panel, however, some have their own batteries which are constantly charged from the panel. This allows the siren to sound even if the wires to the panel are cut. They are known as Satellite sirens.
The external siren must switch off within 1 O minutes to conform to Noise Abatement Laws.
It will only re-activate if a separate zone is triggered or if the system has been re-set.
INTERNAL MOVEMENT DETECTORS
There are many detectors available and they operate on different principles. The most common detectors are:
- The Passive Infra-Red detector (PIR), (operates on infra-red energy) can detect the body heat of an intruder or the presence of an intruder passing through the detectors coverage area.
- The Dual Technology detector utilises two mediums of detection (for eg. Passive Infra-Red and Microwave) and both have to trigger, to activate the alarm.
Detectors are used to detect the action or presence of an intruder at all vulnerable building access points such as doors, windows, manholes, skylights etc. It provides early detection of an attempted or successful intrusion.
The reed switch consists of two parts, being the switch and a magnet which are mounted on the moving part of a door or window. When the magnet is in close proximity to the switch, contact is made, but when the magnet is moved away from the switch the contact breaks and a signal is sent to the alarm panel.
Shock sensors, also known as vibration sensors are mounted on window frames and will detect’ glass breaking or vibrations caused by an attack on a window.
Glass break sensors will detect the sound of breaking glass. The devices consist of a microphone and an electronic processor. When the sound is detected the unit signals an alarm.
Alarm screens – electronic wired fly screens.
Photo electric beams work by sending an invisible light beam from a transmitter to a receiver.
Most security systems provide for the connection of smoke and fire sensors. The addition of smoke detectors connected to an alarm system is effective in seeking outside help by triggering the sirens and alerting the monitoring station.
This device is usually located in the main bedroom so that it is easily accessible in the case of an intruder being on the premises whilst occupants are at home. Activation of this device will usually sound the alarm and will generate a Police response to the premises.
Monitoring of the system by a monitoring station ensures an effective response to an attempted break-in or a personal duress. It also includes testing of the systems communication line at regular intervals and checks on the various other functions of the system.
Monitoring is done either through the telephone or via a mobile network. Depending on the security risk of the premises being secured, the installing company will advise on a suitable system to use.
An alarm system can be connected to an accredited monitoring station by way of a direct line, digital dialer or Securitel technology.
In case of alarm, the standard response from the station is to call a key holder to attend to the property. Should the alarm raised comply with the Police requirements, the monitoring station will also alert the Police. Other responses available can include the dispatch of a Security Officer from a private company.
Monitoring has more functions which can be programmed to suit the client’s requirements. With monitoring, fees are usually paid in advance for a preset period of time such as three months, six months or a year.
LOCAL AUDIBLE SYSTEMS
Local alarm systems are systems that are not monitored. In the event of an alarm activation, you are dependent on neighbours and passersby to take appropriate action.
SECURITY AND RELATED ACTIVITIES (CONTROL) ACT 1996
The Western Australia Pol ice Service is the licensing authority for the Security and Related Activities (Control) Act 1 996.
This legislation affects any person who wishes to engage in Security occupations. These include Security Agent, Security Officer, Security Consultant, Security Installer, Inquiry Agent, Investigator, Crowd Control Agent, and Crowd Controller.
Any person for whom the license holder is performing a service under that license must on request produce his/her identity card for inspection – section 61 (2) (b).
An informative brochure regarding Licensing is produced by the Commercial Agents Squad at 297 Hay Street, East Perth – Telephone (08) 9231 71 99, or in County Areas from your nearest Police Station.
The Recommendations contained in this brochure have been prepared by the Security Agents Institute of W.A. (Inc.) Electronics Committee to assist the general public to select an effective security alarm system.
The Security Agents Institute of W.A. (Inc.) strives to encourage professional industry standards of quality products and services in the interest of the consumer.
Members of the Institute are required to adhere to a Code of Ethics and at all times conduct their businesses in a professional manner.
Any person wishing to lodge a complaint against a security provider should do so to the Commercial Agents Squad. The SAIWA has a complaints procedure in place for Institute Members and such complaints should be directed to the SAIWA Secretariat.