Provident vs. Alarmforce on CKNW

Yesterday morning on CKNW, Bill Good did an hour long show on alarm systems. The show was in response to the recent news that the City of Surrey will no longer provide response to burglar alarms between the hours of 7:00am and 7:00pm Initially, the guests on the show were a private investigator as well as the National Sales Manager for Alarmforce. I was the first caller into the show and explained how we provide immediate response and do not waste any time trying to verify an alarm. I also took the Alarmforce rep’s comments to task regarding whether or not an alarm acts as a deterrent (they do not). I was then asked to stick around on the show and became a late addition to the ‘panel’ that lasted until 10:00am. Here is a link to the entire hour of the show… (I get into the show at about the 24 minute mark) The representative from Alarmforce tried to suggest that their two-way voice system was in some way superior to other systems. Besides being categorically untrue, his comments missed the entire point of the show… that the police will not respond to any alarm signal until verified. I explained that any alarm company could install a two-way voice system. In fact, many of the systems that we install are two-way voice capable, we just don’t use the ‘feature’ because I do not believe it offers any real value. I suggested on the show that if a crook broke into a home with an Alarmforce “alarm” and simply did not answer when asked to identify themselves, noone is really any further ahead in terms of being able to confirm to the police that an alarm is in fact real.

Alarmforce got into trouble from Advertising Standards Canada (pg. 12) a couple years ago for misleading advertising when they suggested in their radio ads that “the police are on the way” (they have since modified the ad… but only slightly)… given the news in Surrey, and the way Police response already works in Vancouver, their advertisements are, in my opinion, still very misleading.

With false alarm rates at approximately 98% in virtually every city in North America, it is a complete waste of tax payers money to have the Police responding to private alarms. To combat the false alarm problem, many cities (before instituting a complete non-response policy) have come up with by-laws to restrict when an alarm company can request Police dispatch. In Vancouver, we have the False Alarm Reduction Program which requires that any alarm company that wants to request the Police to respond to an alarm must first get ahold of an emergency contact (provided by the premises owner).

Under this system, when a home is burglarized the first thing that happens is that the alarm company will call the premises to check if the alarm was false. If no answer, they must then reach an emergency contact who will agree to go to the premises. Only then are the Police notified. Obviously, by then the burglars are likely long gone and a quick police response really does not matter anymore. The net result is that all alarms are treated as false until proven otherwise… of course, by the time you have proven otherwise the crime is long over. So why bother?

(For all Provident clients, we assume that every alarm is real and we will immediately dispatch one of our guards. If you have caused a false alarm, it is your responsibility to call us to let us know that everything is ok. Provided that you call us before we arrive at your door, there is no charge. But we are definately assuming that every alarm is an actual burglary in progress.)

Last year, 5% of all calls to the Vancouver Police were to respond to alarms. Wouldn’t we all be better off if the Police just stopped responding to these calls where they have a virtually 0% chance of offering any value and instead redeploy that 5% into things that really do make a difference in our communities?

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