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Home Security System Checks Reveal Lack of Monitoring Service in MD, DC, and VA: Urban Alarm's Simple Way to Check Alarm Systems

In the event of a medical, fire, safety, or other emergency, alarms notify monitoring services, which then contact local emergency services so they can respond. This all works well unless the system isn’t really connected to a monitoring service.

Chevy Chase, MD, March 24, 2008 --( Urban Alarm ( -- Having a security system alone won’t provide people with dispatch services for police, fire, and ambulance which is why they pay for monitoring. In the event of a medical, fire, safety, or other emergency, alarms notify monitoring services, which then contact local emergency services so they can respond. This all works well unless the system isn’t really connected to a monitoring service.

In the past few months Urban Alarm's security team has come across home owners that are being deceived by companies claiming to provide “alarm monitoring." Some residents and businesses in the DC metro area were paying monthly monitoring fees, but after further investigation their panels were not being properly serviced. Now this may be outright fraud, meaning that many of these companies have more or less gone out of business and continue to charge people, but have not kept up their end of the deal. In other cases, some companies switch telephone numbers for dialing their monitoring services and the alarm panels are not properly up-to-date.

Urban Alarm found more than a few homes in the DC metro area that had working alarm systems, their residents used them daily, but they had no idea what they were paying for each month wouldn’t help them at all when they really needed it. When Urban Alarms local security engineers did a system test, everything was working, but then they performed a telephone line test and got this message —“The number you have reached has been disconnected…”— what a shock to residents when they found out they did not have the alarm monitoring service they paid for every month, and relied on during emergencies.

This situation highlights the importance of regular alarm system tests and working with reputable and licensed security companies. Even with a perfectly responsible security service provider it is important to conduct regular tests as there are many factors which can impact a panel's ability to communicate with the central station (discussed bellow).

How to test an alarm system:

Most of the alarm companies will give clients a number to the central station. The simplest and most effective way to test a system may be to call the alarm company and tell them that about the system test. After setting off the alarm, wait a minute, then call then central station and verify that they received the signal.

Most systems have a phone test that allows the security system to test the connection between the panel and the monitoring station without having to contact the monitoring station before hand. In any case, check the alarm system manual for instructions or contact the alarm monitoring company.

The GE Concord panels installed by Urban Alarm can be tested by:

Disarm the system
Press 8 + the master CODE + 2
The touch pad will display "PHONE TEST"
The system will display the results of the test

Residential and commercial users should test alarm systems at least monthly. Urban Alarm's systems can even be configured to automatically conduct a phone test on a periodic basis (e.g., weekly). This is one of many features Urban Alarm incorporates, which is usually reserved for commercial installations, but is definitely a good practice on residential systems.

What if the system fails the test?

There are may reasons why alarm systems fail to send a signal to the central dispatching station. Some of these may have nothing to do with the alarm company. Changing the wiring of the phone system, upgrading to voice over IP (VOIP) or the cable companies phone service can inadvertently foil alarm panels. Adding DSL Internet service can also interfere with the alarm panel functionality if not setup properly. That is why it is important to contact the alarm company before making any changes to phone or data services.

Alarm system owners should do a manual phone test of alarm systems after any telephone, Internet, cable or other wiring work is completed. Users should test the system while the technician is still on-site so any issue can be resolved immediately. Frequently, technicians inadvertently disable lines that are essential to maintaining security systems or phone lines that would cause monitoring to fail. Users should repeatedly do phone tests to ensure that when they are in need, emergency services will be notified.

Urban Alarm is always there to help DC metro area residential, commercial, nonprofit and government security and access control needs. For more information call the company office at 202-265-2700. Urban Alarm is willing to help alarm system users out even if they aren't customers.

Contact Information
Urban Alarm
Miles Fawcett

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