In the Zone (5 Reasons Why Zone Lists Matter)

Building Floorplan
Image courtesy of barun patro on

Zone lists are very important pieces of information to ensure responders are focusing their attention on the right places, and yet it’s amazing how often dispatches discover either no zone lists, or limited lists with very vague descriptions.

Here are a few reasons why it’s important.

  1. When responding to a fire, panic alarm, or burglary, having zones with clear descriptions enable the police to hone their searches to where they’re most needed. Yes, having descriptions like “drive thru panic” or “cash register hold up” or “Admin office safe panic” helps make sure the police don’t go through the building when there’s only one focus area. Same goes with fires and burglaries.
  2. When calling to verify an alarm, sometimes a zone description will trigger memories of what may have caused the alarm, and that it’s false, thus saving an unnecessary dispatch and possible fines. (Like doors that catch and swing open on windy days setting off burglary alarms or construction dust or steam from showers setting off a smoke alarm.)
  3. It can help identify a broken or damaged sensor, and ensure a timely service call. Our operators tend to identify zones (especially ones that continually go off) to customers. Without a zone description, many customers are hesitant to call off the police or schedule a service call, assuming that everything with the equipment is fine. That little bit of information sets their mines at ease.
  4. When there are format issues, zones are often the only clues a dispatcher may have that there is a problem. What does that mean? If an invalid or undefined signal comes in and there’s no zone, dispatch isn’t sure if this is an alarm and assume that it’s an issue with the panel that you, the dealer, need to be made aware of. If the zone description, however, says “front door,” they’ll call the customer first to make sure all is ok.
  5. When a General Alarm comes in, central station operators are trained to treat the signals  as “fire alarms” on a fire system and “burglary alarms” on burglary systems. If there is no zone description (aka ‘communication trouble’ or ‘pump run’), what could actually be a non-emergent situation can and will get dispatched on. And if there is no description of what type of alarm system your customers have (Fire Alarm, Burglary, Combo), our dispatchers will be guessing as to how you and your clients want them to respond.

In other words, creating a detailed zone list can only help you and your customer have a long, positive relationship, not to mention ensure that the Central Station is handling your alarms the way you truly want them to.