The A to Z of intruder alarms (part 1)

If you’re not a security equipment specialist (and why would you be… that’s our job) then the terminology can be a little confusing to navigate at first.  Without an in depth understanding of the terms and what they mean for you it’s easy to get muddled up and even abandon the idea of having an NSI approved alarm system fitted altogether.  We don’t want anyone to be put off installing a security system because they got confused by the jargon, so we’ve put together a guide to these terms and what they mean for you.


Access Control – These systems provide access to, and deny access to different users based on their level of seniority or security clearance.  They prevent unauthorised persons from accessing areas of a building they are not allowed in and are commonly used in hospitals, police stations, courthouses and other large companies where sensitive information may be dealt with.


Audible Only – This means a system which, once triggered, sounds an audible siren.  These systems do not have any additional monitoring or response and are the entry level of intruder alarm systems.


Bell Box – This term describes the visible part of a security or fire alarm.  Situated on the outside of a building they serve as a deterrent to would-be burglars as they can clearly see the premises is alarmed.  The actual siren/alarm is housed in this box, hence the name.


Burglar Alarm – This is the most often used term to describe a domestic security system.  Sometimes known as intruder alarms these systems sound a siren, or alert the police when someone access the premises illegitimately.


BS 5839 – This is the safety standard for fire alarm systems and all our systems comply to this.  Compliance is essential for a system to be recognised by an insurance company as a viable method of fire prevention and control.


CCTV – This stands for Closed Circuit TeleVision and describes any network of security cameras that record images or send a live feed to a server that can be monitored by the owner or by a third party monitoring provider.


CO Monitor – CO, otherwise known as carbon monoxide, is a potentially deadly gas that is caused when gas is not properly burnt off during use, or leaks into a building from a faulty piece of equipment.  A CO monitor checks the levels of CO in the atmosphere and sounds an alarm when it is detected so people can evacuate the premises while the source is located and dealt with.


Heat Detector – Some fire alarm systems incorporate a heat detector as well as a smoke detector.  These are used where smoke may be present as a result of the work that is carried out, such as in glass blowing workshops and forges.  They work with a smoke detector to ascertain whether there is a fire, or whether the smoke is a result of activity and mean that the alarm will not keep going off unnecessarily.


Monitored – This term is given to any system where the camera feed, or the sensor outputs are monitored in real time at a third party location providing monitoring services.  This means that someone is always watching and can take action based on what they see, whether that is alerting the police to suspicious activity or calling the fire brigade for a blaze.


Monitored Response – These systems are monitored by a real person, but have a direct trigger to the emergency services should the system be triggered.  If there is no camera system and therefore, no one able to look at what is going on then a monitored response system gives an extra layer of protection, as the police or fire brigade will be sent directly to the location.


We hope this has helped to clarify some of the terminology used and that you will join us in part 2.