With all the security advice on the internet, it can be bewildering knowing who to trust for sound advice and service. Choose an NSI approved company and you have the peace of mind that you are dealing with a reputable contractor who works to NSI’s stringent standards.
Before you have an alarm fitted, make sure you ask the following questions:
Q: Can I trust the employees of the security company when in my home?
A: All relevant personnel within each NSI approved company have been security screened to British Standard 7858.
Q: Will the company I choose be capable of meeting the standard of workmanship and service I would expect?
A: NSI will only approve a company once it is capable of demonstrating technical and managerial competence and once approved is regularly audited to ensure consistency.
Q: If there is a problem with my alarm, how quickly can I expect the company to respond?
A: All NSI approved companies installing intruder alarms must operate a 24 hour call out service and must be able to respond to emergencies within a 4 hour period. (NSI companies who have installed a CCTV or Access Control system are expected to respond within 24 hours).
Q: Once I have an alarm fitted – will I see the installer again?
A: With NSI, a maintenance contract will be offered to customers who have a monitored alarm.
Q: Upon installation of an intruder alarm what will I be given?
A: You will be issued with a Certificate of Compliance from an NSI approved company.
Q: If my alarm is monitored – will the alarm monitoring service be to NSI standard?
A: If your alarm is installed by an NSI approved installer, then the monitoring of your alarm will be handled by an NSI approved ARC (Alarm Receiving Centre).
ARCs are permanently manned, highly secure, resilient, air-locked environments that have their own standby power and back-up facilities that provide you with 24/7 monitoring of your alarm signals. NSI expects NSI approved alarm installers to use ARCs that meet all NSI requirements, so that you are assured of NSI standards being applied to your home security. For specific details refer to your installer’s Terms and Conditions.
NSI’s Gold certification of ARCs is unique in the market place and demands strict adherence to NSI’s criteria for approval. These include BS EN ISO 9001 – which is an internationally recognised standard for quality management systems, a bespoke NSI Quality Schedule, and all relevant industry standards and codes of practice applicable to ARCs.
Q: How will my maintenance and monitoring contract be set up?
Your installer maintenance and monitoring agreement will include ARC services arranged by your installer. The ARC service may be provided by the same company as provided your alarm installation, or as likely, an approved sub-contracted specialist ARC service provider.
You are free to choose an alternative ARC service if you prefer. However you would then have to arrange the monitoring contract yourself. If you do so, the monitoring service provider will probably want evidence that your alarm system is properly maintained (to prevent false alarms).
Q: What should I look for in my maintenance contract?
Installers offer different types of maintenance packages with/without call-out charges included and usually excluding replacement parts and equipment. Take care to check the terms and conditions of the proposed maintenance contract and options offered.
Q: How reliable is the signaling to the monitoring centre?
Your installer can offer you a choice of alarm transmission systems (ATS) to pass alarm and fault signals to the ARC. ‘Dual path’ signaling to the ARC is more reliable than ‘single path’ and insurers generally prefer it (because it is unlikely that both paths will fail at the same time). Your installer can explain all the available options to you.
Dual path ATS solutions usually have an all-inclusive package for transmitting data so there are no ‘pay-as-you-go’ individual call charges.
A typical dual path system includes a cable connection to the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) and a radio connection to the mobile network.
There are different technologies available: cable connection could support for example serial or fast format or Internet Protocol (IP) communications.
Similarly the radio connection might use GSM (cellular phone technology) or GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) transmissions. Some radio solutions connect to a single provider whereas other solutions might include a roaming SIM to enable connection to the best available service.
Q: What is the Grade of the ATS (alarm transmission system) and why is it important?
Higher graded ATSs mean that any faults are reported quicker to the ARC. Although you might have a Grade 2 alarm system, you can choose a Grade 2 ATS or a Grade 3 or 4 ATS.
Q: What is the simplest solution I might consider?
A single path solution involves the use of a digital communicator with a cable connection to your PSTN (telephone line). The communicator makes telephone calls to the ARC including additional calls to the ARC if it fails to connect first time. It also makes a daily test call the ARC to confirm good working order. These individual call charges appear on your telephone bill.
If the ARC uses a premium rate number to receive data that increases your costs, your installer should inform you in writing as part of the contract.
Q: If there ever is a signaling fault – how would I know?
ATS path faults are reported to the ARC who will inform you either directly or via your installer. Your installer can clarify this.
If there is a fault in your local line the onus is on you to contact your communications provider to resolve the problem. Your installer may be able to offer suggestions but you hold the contract with the provider.
Q: My alarm system has a back-up power battery. What is the life of the battery and how will I know it should be replaced to keep my premises safe?
Battery life is notoriously difficult to assess, even more guarantee. Whilst some manufacturers indicate batteries may last longer, environmental conditions including temperature at your premises and also prior to installation are amongst factors influencing battery life.
Many installers will change batteries after a defined period of time, say 3 or 4 years, to minimize the chances of a failing battery causing alarm system malfunction. Your installer typically tests batteries as part of every routine maintenance visit and will change batteries earlier if it is necessary to do so. Replacement battery costs, as with other replacement parts, maybe charged over and above your maintenance contract.
Q: I’ve heard that the traditional telephone line service to my premises will be discontinued in the near future and replaced with IP (Internet Protocol) voice services over broadband. Will this affect my alarm system and what should I do about it?
There is a national programme underway to upgrade all services away from PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) to IP voice services between now and 2025, and your alarm system may well be affected when your line is upgraded.
As with any changes to telephony/broadband services, you should contact your installer/maintenance company before your line is upgraded to check if your alarm system requires any adaptation or re-programming to ensure compatibility with the new IP network.
Q: Will I get a discount on my house insurance if I have a burglar alarm?
A: It is always advisable to check with your insurance company as policies differ between companies. However, many insurance companies do offer discounts for alarms installed by NSI approved companies
With over 40 years of experience, NSI thoroughly and robustly carries out regular audits on its approved companies so you don’t
Q: How do I Obtain Police Response?
A: In order to obtain police response in the UK, please be aware you need to use the services of a company holding approval as an installer and maintainer of intruder and hold-up alarm systems.
NSI NACOSS Gold and Systems Silver approved companies employ the services of NSI approved ARCs (Alarm Receiving Centres) to provide 24/7 monitoring and alert the relevant police authority when they believe security has been breached at an alarmed premises (domestic or commercial).
NSI approval gives you confidence in the integrity of the alarm system maintenance and 24/7 monitoring process.
Find NSI approved companies in your area via 'Find a Company' and search for 'Intruder Alarm/CCTV/Access Control' to make sure the company you are using holds NSI NACOSS Gold or Systems Silver approval.