Undefined/Invalid Alarms and Our Process

There have been several changes in our system since the migration from Microkey to Stages. One of them is what we used to call Invalid alarms. In Stages, they’re now called ‘Undefined’ and they happen much less frequently thanks to some of the neat capabilities Stages comes with inherently.

It’s important to know that Undefined Alarms are taken very seriously by our Central Station staff because they are trained from the beginning to realize that an Undefined Alarm, though it comes in as a trouble to the alarm stacks, there is always the possibility that it is an actual alarm, and not just a coding or processing glitch or error. It’s also key to note that Undefined/Invalid alarms are only dispatched on if the signal is, in fact, an obvious coding error. For example–if an ‘E110’ came in as an undefined signal, our operators are educated to recognize that this is a fire code coming in via Contact ID, and needs to be treated as a fire.

What steps do we take to decipher the actions the Operators need to take? We’re so glad you asked…

  1. Check to see if there is a caller ID coming in with the signal and do a Caller ID search to determine if the signal belongs to the current account or if it’s coming from another one.
  2. Check zones and match to posted zone list (if there is one) for an understanding about the type of signal they may be handling.
  3. Check dealer notepad for special instructions regarding Undefined Alarms.
  4. Call premise and/or dealer to notify of signal.
  5. Note the associated accounts (aka the account it came in on AND the account it actually belongs to) with any findings should the signal not belong to the account it came in on.

If we are not sure what the signal might be, we start by calling the premise and advising them that we are receiving an “undefined trouble signal” and confirming whether or not they’re ok. If the customer responds by advising of things like they opened their front door, but forgot to shut off their alarm, we know that it should’ve come through as a burglary. At that point we’d ask for code, then call you, the dealer, to advise that actual burglary signals are coming in on one of your customer’s accounts, but aren’t reporting properly. Sometimes it’s something as simple as the alarm reads in 4 by 2 format and there’s no zone list on file. Other times it may require some extra work on your end to get to the bottom of this mystery.

While the fixes can sometimes be as simple as submitting an updated zone list, sometimes it’s a programming issue from the panel or the way something was input via the data entry screen. Either way, these calls and emails are designed to help you be more efficient and protect your business and your customers. The sooner we work together to resolve issues, the better for everyone.

On a side note…commercial fire accounts with invalid signals will always receive a call, as will you, the dealer…unless you have special notes on your notepad advising our Central Station to completely disregard Undefined signals (and if you opt to do that, it would be wise of you to constantly be researching any undefined alarms that may occur to ensure the issues are being corrected and not ignored.

As always, our goal is to help you grow and protect your business, so anything we can do to help is exactly how we work to support you.