False Alarm Reduction: Building Meaningful Public-Private Partnerships

Often, we find ourselves in partnerships that we may not have expected, and friendships are not always an indicator of a successful business relationship, but maintaining a good business partnership is like maintaining a good friendship.

The alarm profession brings out many opportunities to build relationships. Some, such as suppliers-to-integrators, or integrators-to-central stations are expected and often easy, while others such as integrators-to-authorities may at first appear to be more confrontational and require greater effort, but they are equally important.

As far as the alarm industry-to-authorities is concerned, a great place to start is with the common goal of reducing false alarms. It should be easily agreeable that both sides want to keep false alarms to a minimum, and finding ways to accomplish this needs to be a cooperative effort. Local and state alarm associations are a great place to begin this effort, but it shouldn’t end there.

Many responding agencies, counties and municipalities are members of the False Alarm Reduction Association (FARA), an organization in the United States and Canada directly involved with finding best practices for both alarm companies, responding authorities and consumers.

A great example of alarm companies using the relationships with FARA and local authorities is Harris County, Texas. With 4.7 million people, Harris County is the third most populated county in the U.S., and the alarm industry has a great working relationship with Harris County Sheriff, Harris County Fire Marshal, Houston Police Department, Houston Fire Department, and responders from agencies near the greater Houston metro.

Representatives from these agencies are regular attendees at the Houston Gulf Coast Alarm Association (HGCAA) meetings, and they routinely provide information concerning permits and efforts to reduce false alarms. In addition, they often ask attending members for feedback on ways the alarm companies and the responders can better combat false alarms and solve problem, together.

Getting to the level of relationship that HGCAA has with Harris County begins by inviting the local responders to get involved with the alarm associations. FARA can also be a great resource with this as most of their members are responding agencies, so they can help communicate to other local authorities of the need to get involved.

Another great example is the long-term partnership that the Mid Atlantic Chapter of FARA enjoys with the Maryland Burglar & Fire Alarm Association (MDBFAA). This partnership has resulted in many effective ordinances and changes in state law to protect privacy of alarm user information and streamline regulation.