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May 13, 2022

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The Video Surveillance Report 2022

Over 30% of fire and security alarm call-outs due to poor maintenance, research reveals

After research from facilities management provider Samsic revealed that poorly maintained alarm systems are responsible for over 30% of call-outs in the UK, business owners are being urged to check and maintain their fire and security alarms.  

The research, based on 968 call outs in 2021 where the trigger of the alarm could be confirmed, reveals that a significant portion of alarm call-outs that the Samsic team responded to last year came down to faulty detectors, panels, lines and wiring. A further 18% were triggered by cobwebs, highlighting the importance of keeping areas around sensors clean.

32.5% of alarms were set off as a result of poorly maintained systems, including broken parts, whilst a further 11% of alarm activations were due to staff error – where alarms hadn’t been set correctly, for example.

Rodents, spiders and other insects, which can set off sensitive intruder alarms, account for 13% of the call-out cases that were examined.

Overall, only around 19% of the call outs were for genuine reasons – from water leaks, vandalism and confirmed fires, to attempted and actual burglary, insecure premises and trespassers.

A spokesperson for Samsic.uk said: “These stats highlight the importance of checking your alarm system regularly, making sure staff are properly trained in how to set them, and keeping the surrounding areas clean, tidy and secure.

“The amount of wasted time that business owners will spend attending alarms which turn out to have simply been set off by a spider scurrying across the sensor or because of a system fault is astonishing. Sometimes situations like this are unavoidable, but properly maintaining your alarm systems and the areas around the sensors should help prevent at least some of the unnecessary call outs.

“Fortunately, just under 20% of the call outs we examined were due to actual emergency situations, from water leaks, vandalism and confirmed fires, to attempted and actual burglary, insecure premises and trespassers.

How to prevent false alarms

  • Maintain the security systems – Many business owners will make the mistake of having a security or fire alarm system installed, and then thinking nothing else needs to be done. But to work effectively, these systems will require some occasional maintenance. As a minimum, Samsic recommends having CCTV systems serviced twice a year, and other intruder and alarm systems at least once a year.
  • Keep the areas around the sensors clean – As illustrated in Samsic’s research, a surprising number of alarms are often set off by cobwebs hanging on or around the detector. A very simple way to prevent this from happening is to check and clean the surrounding area regularly. Taking five minutes to dust the area could prevent an inconvenient and unnecessary alarm call out in the middle of the night.
  • Ensure staff are properly trained – Most modern alarm systems aren’t complex or difficult to operate, but ensuring staff who are responsible for setting the alarms on and off at the start or end of each day is vital to ensure the system is working exactly as it should.
  • Pest control – 13% of the call outs that were examined revealed that rats, mice, and other critters were to blame. Keeping on top of and managing pest issues could prevent them from setting off alarms, which in turn wastes precious time and resources.


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