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What is a Security System For?

By on May 3rd, 2013

The other day, I received an email from a friend of mine and he had a question for me regarding the use of a security company’s logo in a news cast. He was wondering if the news program could find themselves in trouble with the security company, if the news report cast them in a negative light …

Here are the circumstances: There was a house fire, where a person unfortunately lost their life. During the on scene news cast, in front of burned out residence you could clearly see a yard sign from a well-known home security company (not a Damar Security Systems yard sign).

While the security company would undoubtedly not be happy about their yard sign being displayed in a potentially negative manner, they would likely have little recourse against the news program due to a copyright law known as Fair Use. To quote Wikipedia:

… fair use is a doctrine that permits limited use of copyrighted material without acquiring permission from the rights holders. Examples of fair use include commentary, search engines, criticism, news reporting, research, teaching, library archiving and scholarship. It provides for the legal, unlicensed citation or incorporation of copyrighted material in another author’s work under a four-factor balancing test.

At the end of the day, the news commentary did not include any reference specifically to the name or yard sign for the security company, and the appearance of the yard sign was purely incidental.

Once I had satisfied my friend’s question, I fired some rhetorical questions back to him. The first question I had was “How could this have happened?” In theory, all residences are to have smoke alarms installed and working at all times. Unfortunately, the statistics tell us a different story.

Between 2000 and 2004, 43% of all fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms, while 22% resulted from fires in homes where smoke alarms were present but did not operate.  The death rate per 100 reported fires was twice as high in homes without a working smoke alarm as it was in homes with a working smoke alarm.

*Source:  NFPA Fire Analysis and Research Division.

The second question I asked my friend was “What happened to the security system?” Now obviously this question comes with a variety of unknown variables such as whether the security system was functional at the time, and whether it incorporated life safety components such as carbon monoxide or fire detection devices. While it is unlikely that I will ever find out definitive answers to these questions, I can surmise what went wrong. The following are the likely reasons as to why the security system failed to signal a fire condition:

  1. The system was not operational at the time. The system may have been disconnected from monitoring and/or possibly shutdown or it may has lost all functionality.
  2. The system operated as normal, and the monitoring station failed to act appropriately to the signal indicating the fire condition.
  3. The security system did not include any life safety components to detect a fire condition.

Based on the modus operandi of this particular security company, I’m going to go out on a limb and say it was reason #3.

Unfortunately, the home security market has been reduced down to being a commodity where the sole focus is to establish a large recurring monthly revenue base of clients. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in business to make money, but the vast majority of residential systems are all being sold for the wrong reasons.

We find that when we visit a potential customers residence to provide them with a consultation for a security system, that people are more interested in protecting such items as the big screen television that is mounted on the wall than anything else.

This is where I think the security industry has gone wrong.

From my perspective, a residential security system should be sold for three reasons and I put them in the order of highest importance first below:

  1. Life Safety– Carbon Monoxide, Smoke and Heat or Gas Detection
  2. Environmental– Low Temperature, Water/Flood Detection
  3. Property Protection– Motion or Glass break, Intrusion Detection

Here is my reasoning for prioritizing them in this way.

Life Safety – Without the right components to detect Carbon Monoxide, Smoke and Heat or Gas, the chances of an individual losing their life is significantly increased over instances where these devices are in use. Having these devices monitored significantly reduces the risk even further as you have a 3rd party that is external to the residence that can dispatch the appropriate first responders.

In regards to Carbon Monoxide or Fires that occur at night time, most occupants in the residence are already beginning to succumb to the effects of inhalation even before smoke or CO detectors alert. While a local alarm sounding is still better than nothing, having a monitoring station dispatch the appropriate first responders is just that much better.

Long story short – Life Safety should always be the number one priority when designing a residential security system.

Environmental – The reason I place this as the second priority is simple. If an Environmental condition occurs, there can be a significant impact on the ability to remain in the residence based on the severity of the environmental condition. Early detection is key in these instances so that the furnace can be fixed before the pipes burst or before the basement fills with water or worse – sewage.

According to a 2009 article from ClaimsCanada.ca, “fire and theft have traditionally made up the largest percentage of claims in the past. But now 40 per cent or more of claims have some kind of water component.”

The same article from ClaimsCanada.ca also goes onto to state the following regarding basements and sewer claims that: “previously if a sewer backed up into a homeowner’s basement, there was very little of value stored down there. Now, however, homeowners are using their basement as an extension of the home, storing high-end electronics and expensive furniture in fully finished basements. When there is water damage, the cost to fix it is much higher. From day-to-day expertise, when the average claim for a sewer backup goes from $5,000-$6,000 to $50,000-$60,000, it will have an impact on the cost of the claim.”

Property Protection – I place Property Protection at the bottom of the list, as this component is typically protecting assets only. Assets can be replaced and may cause minor inconveniences to your lifestyle if stolen. Yet 99% of the time, this is what has initiated the conversation about obtaining a security system!

Of course I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that the first two (Life Safety and Environmental) conditions could be caused by individuals breaking into a residence. We’ve all seen the reports of wild parties being thrown in vacant houses or while the homeowner’s were away. It can happen and I’ll acknowledge that.

During our 30+ years of providing security solutions, Damar has always designed Life Safety systems to help best protect your family and property from events just like these. We’ve all heard horror stories in the news about lives ruined by carbon monoxide poisoning, property being swept away in devastating floods, and homes destroyed by fire … isn’t it time to protect what matters most?

Let the professionals at Damar Security Systems help design a complete life safety solution for your family with the right products from leading industry manufacturers, such as Honeywell / First Alert, Digital Monitoring Products (DMP) and others.

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