Q: I'm getting calls from a computer - what is it for?
A: Starting in September 2010, you may have received calls via our new Automated Notification system. These calls will notify you of Power Failures, Low Batteries & System Late to Test signals. With just the press of a button you will be able to speak to a central station operator if you have any concerns regarding the information you are being given. All other higher priority notifications will be made by a live person. We have implemented this change to help lower our average response time for all types of signals.
As always, we are striving to provide the highest quality, most reliable security services in the business and feel that this is just another enhancement to that end.
Q: Why does the Central Station call in the middle of the night?
A: A lot of our customers ask us why we call to tell them or their emergency contact people about certain signals in the middle of the night. The following are a list of signals that you might receive calls on that you are not familiar with:
- A/C Power Loss: We do not monitor the power to your entire house; we only monitor the power to your security system. Therefore, it is possible that you may have power in the house and yet you are being told that you are having an A/C power loss with your system. This could be due to the circuit that we are connected to being tripped, our transformer being unplugged or electrical problems. When you are notified that there is an A/C power loss, that should tell you that the security system is working on its back-up battery and will only continue to work for a number of hours (usually 24 hours, depending on the age of your system, the equipment running off of the battery and the last time the battery was replaced). If you are being told that there is no A/C power and the rest of your house is without power, then most likely, this is the cause of the phone call. You should notify your emergency contacts to pay attention to these types of phone calls (especially in the winter) if you are away. As mentioned before, power loss to the system could indicate power loss to the entire house or building and if power is not restored you could be without your security/life safety system and during freezing temperatures, this could result in frozen pipes and major damage to your location. You or your contacts could ask the operator if a restore signal has been received. If it has, then power is back to the security system. If not, then you might want to check back with them in a few hours to make sure that the power has been restored. If it has not, then a trip to the location is definitely advised. One other thing to keep in mind, if there is a major storm in the area and central station is receiving numerous powerloss or trouble signals, they will assume that a storm is responsible for power outages and then they will not make calls. This will depend on the quantity of signals, weather forecast and number of other signals being received at the time.
- Telephone Line Failure: You might be told that you are having a telephone line 1 or telephone line 2 failure. Residential systems usually have one connection to a phone line and most commercial properties with fire systems have two phone line connections. Being told of a phone line failure indicates that one or both of the phone lines are not in service. This could be due to the phone company working on the lines in your area, the phone number that we are connected to has been disconnected or requires service, or the phone service that you are using is down. We let you know of this alarm because without a phone line, your system can not report to central station. If it cannot report to central station, you are in jeopardy if there is a fire or a break-in. You should investigate immediately to determine the cause of the phone problem, making sure that someone has not cut your phone line on purpose. If you find that the phone line requires service or has mistakenly been disconnected, report the information directly to your phone provider. When the phone line is working again, resetting your system should be all that is required to get your system back to normal. If the phone company has been to your home or business to service, it is advisable to call the office during normal business hours to make sure that we can still make a connection to your system. The phone company has in many cases not reconnected the security system the proper way, which jeopardizes emergency reporting and makes it impossible for us to make requested changes to your account.
- Low/High Temperature: This signal will only affect you if you have a temperature detector installed. The reason that this detection was installed was to monitor the temperature in a certain area of a house or commercial property. The device is set at a low temperature and a high temperature. If you or your contacts are called, it is advisable for someone to check the location to determine if it is too hot or too cold in the area. If you are going to be away in the winter, it is extremely important that your contacts know the urgency of this signal in cold temperatures; it could indicate a loss of heat in the building. Every winter, we alert customers of freezing temperatures in buildings, saving property worth tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Make sure your contact people promptly follow up on temperature alarms.
- Low Battery: Low battery signals indicate that your system is running out of back-up battery. If your system has been without A/C power, this is very understandable and there is nothing you can do until you get power back on. When the power is restored, your back-up battery should begin recharging and within 24 hours, should be back to normal. If you get a low battery signal when you are not home, you should check with central station to see if they have previously received a power loss signal. If you receive a low battery signal and there has been no A/C power loss, please call the office during normal business hours to schedule service. Your system will continue to operate normally until we service, unless you are without A/C power.
- Late to Test: A late to test signal indicates that your system did not transmit a test signal to our central station. This test signal could be a weekly or daily test depending on your type of system. In either case, a fail to test or late to test could indicate a loss of phone line at the time of the test. If you or your contacts get a call on this type of signal, you should check to make sure that the phone line we are connected to is operational. If it is, contact our office so that we can make a connection to your system and make sure that all communication is working properly. At that point, we will attempt to follow up either by making sure that everything is back to normal or with a phone call to you. The reason for you and your contacts being notified is for immediate notification. It is our job to make you aware of any possible situation that compromises your level of security/life safety so that it can be rectified quickly.
Q: Should I check with you before changing my phone service?
Q: Do VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) phone lines work with our security systems?
A: No. VOIP lines are unreliable and you may or may not be able to send a signal to central station during an emergency. This type of phone service is found with providers like Vonage and Comcast.
Q: Is Verizon FIOS okay to use with our systems.
A: Yes, Verizon FIOS is okay for most of our systems but call us ahead of time and make sure.