AA Alarm System – See Certificated UL Line Security.
Abort – A telephoned voice call or an electronically transmitted message, with appropriate safeguards as to authenticity, that indicates a just-transmitted alarm event is not to be reacted to as an emergency. An abort is also a procedure to prevent an alarm signal from being sent to the monitoring facility.
Access Control System – See Facility Control System.
Acoustic Glass Break Detector – A glass break detector that senses unique acoustic frequencies or frequency profiles that are present when glass breaks.
Agent Response, Private – Response by non-public agency personnel to alarm, restore, and trouble signals.
Agent Response, Public – Follow-up to an RFR to a dispatchable event by one or more persons trained to investigate alarm events.
Alarm – An electronic signal, transmitted to the monitoring facility. Indicates that an emergency requiring follow-up has been detected. When an alarm system is not monitored, the alarm condition activates one or more sounding or visual indicating devices.
Alarm Abort – See Abort.
Alarm Agent – A person trained to provide alarm agent response. See Alarm Agent Service.
Alarm Agent Service – Another term widely used to describe alarm investigator, runner, and private guard services.
Alarm Cancellation – See Cancellation.
Alarm Investigation Company – An organization that provides response by trained alarm investigators. Monitoring facilities and servicing alarm companies may provide their own alarm investigators.
Alarm Investigator – A person trained to provide runner or alarm investigation services. See Alarm Investigator Service.
Alarm Investigator Service – A response service provided by a representative of the monitoring facility or the serving alarm company. Such representative does not always act as an emergency response person to apprehend criminals, to fight fires, or to provide medical services, but acts as a representative of the user. Also offers assistance and follow-up help to emergency service providers.
Alarm Investigators’ Room – A room, or area, either within the monitoring facility building or at a remote location in which alarm investigators are on duty when they are not at, or responding to, alarm users locations.
Alarm Premises – See Protected Premises.
Alarm Response Records – Alarm monitoring facility records of alarm response activity, as appropriate, including, but not necessarily limited to, the following to the extent that alarm response services are provided by employees of the monitoring facility:
- Date and time of the original alarm signal
- Date and time the public response agency was notified
- Date and time the alarm agent was dispatched
- Date and time the alarm agent arrived at the alarmed premises
- Date and time the alarm agent departed the scene after the agent’s report was completed
- Report of event disposition reported by the public response agency
- All details included in the alarm agent’s report.
Alarm Retransmission – See request For Response (RFR).
Alarm RFR Cancellation – Cancellation of RFR.
Alarm Signal Communication – Signal transmission between alarm system and monitoring equipment, usually to an off-premises location.
Alarm Signal Transmission – See Alarm Signal Communication.
Alarm Site – See Protected Premises.
Alarm System – A detection signaling system that is considered to be the combination of interrelated signal initiating devices, signal indicating devices, control equipment, and interconnecting wiring installed for a particular application.
Alarm Verification – Generic name given to many techniques used to confirm or deny the validity of alarm signals received at the monitoring facility.
Alarms per System per Year – ASY represents an average for the number of times per year that public emergency response agencies are requested to respond to received alarms on a “per alarm system” basis. An ASY of 1.0 means that a numerically known group of alarm systems generated one alarm (RFR) per system during the year. The ASY figure is a far more meaningful number or index of the performance of alarm systems in the community, state, or country, than is a “false alarm percentage” number. The ASY includes only alarm signals that were passed on to the PSAP as RFRs. It does not include alarms received by monitoring facilities that were not relayed to the PSAP.
Ambulance – See Emergency Medical Services.
Ambulance Dispatch – See Emergency Medical Service Dispatch.
Ambush Device – See Anti-Ambush Device and Early Morning Switch.
Anti-Ambush Device – A device or procedure established to let the alarm user send a silent message requesting assistance to the monitoring facility without alerting anyone on site at the protected premises. See also Hold-Up Alarm, Panic Alarm, and Early Morning Switch.
Arm, Away – The condition of a burglar alarm system in an armed state when no one remains on site within the protected premises. In this condition, all interior and perimeter sensors are active.
Arm, Home – Arming a residential burglar alarm system while remaining at home. In this condition, interior protection is removed from being active to permit those who are inside to have free movement within the protected premises without causing an alarm.
Arm, Occupied – Same as Arm, Home status, but for non-residential premises. Permits persons to remain within the protected premises while perimeter security remains active.
Arm, Set, Turn On – A procedure followed by a system user or the monitoring facility to turn on an alarm system so the system is able to detect the conditions it is designed to protect against. A system may be partially armed even before the arming sequence is followed. For example, permanently wired and connected sensors, and glass break detectors, may report the conditions they are designed to detect even while the rest of the system is disarmed.
Armed Robbery Alarm – See Hold-Up Alarm.
Arming Station – The device used to arm, turn on or activate, and to disarm, turn off or deactivate a burglar alarm system. An arming station may also display the current status of the burglar alarm system, or report and display problems. Arming or disarming the burglar alarm system should not have any effect on the status of fire, hold-up or other protection.
Arming Station Button – A button or key on an arming station that can be used to trigger a panic alarm.
Arson – The intentional damaging or destruction or attempted damaging or destruction of property by means of fire or explosion without the consent of the owner, or of one’s own property or that of another by fire or explosion with or without the intent to defraud.
Associated System Down – The equipment or system to which the alarm installation is attached is shut down, is inoperative, or is disconnected. Example: A sprinkler system that has been shut off by a sprinkler contractor for repairs or sprinkler system modifications, or an industrial operation that has been shut down. The alarm system itself is not shut down and continues to perform its functions during the shut-down.
Associated System Up – The reverse of the Associated System Down indication. The equipment or system to which the alarm installation is attached has returned to normal operation, and the alarm system is once again serving its intended function.
ASY – See Alarms per System per Year.
Audio Alarm Verification – The transfer of sounds from the protected premises to the monitoring facility as a result of activation of one or more non-audio sensors, to confirm or deny the validity of the alarm signal. The audio link may be one-way or two-way.
Audio Detector – A sensor that detects specific sound patterns normally present during attempts to penetrate windows, doors, walls, ceilings and floors. This sensor differs from a microphone that listens to all sounds and can be used to remotely “listen in” to events within its area of sensitivity.
Authorized User Agent – A person who is authorized by the user to cancel alarm signals and to ask the monitoring facility to try to cancel follow-up activities by a PSAP if it has already been notified of the alarm. Also a representative of a user who is to be notified of alarm or trouble conditions instead of, or in addition to, the PSAP.
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Backup Monitoring Facility – A support monitoring facility in addition to the primary monitoring facility, which can take over monitoring operations in the event the primary monitoring facility is disabled. A backup monitoring facility may double as a satellite station, and may be staffed and regularly used as a monitoring facility during certain periods.
BB Alarm System – See Certificated UL Line Security.
Bill Trap – A sensor that detects the removal of a specific bill in a cash drawer.
Biometric Identification – A method using a person’s physical or chemical attributes for identification to the alarm system or the monitoring facility.
Burglar Alarm – An alarm system that, while armed, is designed to detect and report (1) the presence of one or more unauthorized persons on the protected premises, or (2) an illegal attempt made to enter or to move within the protected premises at one or more points equipped with a sensor.
Burglary – The unlawful entry of any building, structure, vehicle or vessel, with or without force, with the intent to commit a felony or larceny.
Business Burglar Alarm, Audible – A system in a business, institution, or government facility with one or more exterior or interior sounding devices.
Business Burglar Alarm, Silent – A system in a business, institution, or government facility that has no sounding devices. A distinctive signaling device intended to provide an early warning signal to the system operator is not considered a sounding device for the purpose of this definition, and the presence of one or more of these signaling devices does not make the system an audible alarm system.
By-Pass – A means of removing one or more devices or zones from an alarm system to enable the remainder of the system to be used and to provide protection. Many alarm control units send a special signal to the monitoring facility when any portion of the protection is by-passed to advise that less-than-complete protection is in effect. When the by-passed devices or zones are back to normal and included in the system again, a follow-up advisory signal is transmitted to the monitoring facility.
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Call List – List of user authorized agents and their telephone numbers, in the order in which the monitoring facility is to follow in attempting to reach someone for notification purposes. Unless otherwise instructed, the notification process stops when one person has been notified.
Cancellation – An action, or series of actions, taken by an appropriately authorized system operator in order (1) to prevent the monitoring facility from sending an RFR to the PSAP, or (2) to ask the monitoring facility to cancel PSAP follow-up if the RFR has already been sent to the PSAP.
Cancellation of RFR – A communication in which the monitoring facility notifies the PSAP that a previously reported emergency no longer exists.
Capacity Sensor – A sensor that detects a change in capacitance when a person touches or comes in close proximity to an object, such as a safe or file cabinet, insulated from electrical ground potential.
Car/Truck/Trailer/Boat/RV/Vehicle Burglar Alarm – A burglar alarm system that protects a movable facility.
CC Alarm System – See Certificated UL Line Security.
Cellular Telephone – The use of stationary cellular telephone equipment to replace or supplement other means of alarm signal communication between the alarm system and the monitoring facility.
Central Station – Another generic name for a monitoring facility. However this term, as broadly and traditionally used in the alarm and insurance industry, refers to a monitoring facility that is physically remote from the building or building complex in which the alarm system it monitors is located.
Central Station, Contract, UL/FM-Listed – A monitoring facility that is listed by, and operating according to, standards established UL and or FMRC, but only for monitoring central station alarm systems. Contract central stations may provide their services under direct contract with the end-user, or only under contract to an intermediary organization such as an independent alarm installation and maintenance company.
Central Station, Non-Listed – See Monitoring Facility, Non-UL/FM-listed.
Central Station, Proprietary – See Proprietary Monitoring Facility.
Central Station, UL/FM-Listed, Full Service – A monitoring facility that is listed by, and operating according to, standards established by UL and or FMRC, and providing installation, maintenance, and support services required for central station alarm systems by UL or FMRC, under the management and responsibility of the monitoring facility.
Central Station, Unlisted – See Monitoring Facility, Non-UL/FM-Listed.
Certificated UL Line Security – A line security alarm that is listed by UL. These systems were formerly referred to as grade “AA”, “BB” and “CC” systems in early UL standards documents. See Line Security Alarm.
Code+1 Trigger – A procedure involving the entry of a special data-entry code in which the normal code used to arm or disarm an alarm system is modified slightly to trigger a panic alarm. Due to the relative ease with which false alarms can be generated when this procedure is used, the “Code+1” feature is being used less and less.
Comprehensive Test – A test of a system that includes (1) an inspection of the installation, (2) tests to verify that all devices, including sensors, controls, communication equipment, and associated devices function properly, (3) one or more signal transmissions to the monitoring facility, if the system is designed to send such signals, (4) confirmation that the system can operate under designed-for fault conditions, and (5) that the batteries are charged and capable of holding their charge.
Confirmed Alarm – See Verified Alarm.
Contract Repair Service – Service provided under contractual arrangements with the user.
Control Equipment at Protected Location – Equipment and devices that make the system at the user location function properly.
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Data Transmission Notification – Computer-to-computer or computer-to-printer transmission of an RFR between a monitoring facility and a terminal at the PSAP. The receiving terminal may be connected into a PSAP’s computer aided dispatch system.
Dedicated Channel – See Dedicated Circuit.
Dedicated Circuit – A direct and permanent link, which does not depend on the public switched network, between the monitoring facility and the PSAP.
Dedicated Circuit – A circuit or channel, typically leased from the telephone company, used to transmit signals between the alarm system and the monitoring facility. Circuit may be point-to-point or multi-point.
Dedicated Tie Line – See Dedicated Circuit.
Delay Zone – One or more sensors in an alarm circuit that are wired so that, when triggered, a specific time delay results before an alarm condition is generated. Delay zones are often created for the most frequently used exit and entry doors to allow for sufficient time for normal entry and exit without causing alarm conditions.
Dial-Up Network – The public dial-up telephone network used to establish a temporary link between the monitoring facility and the PSAP. Serves voice and data communication needs.
Dial-Up Network – The public dial-up telephone network used to establish a temporary link between the alarm system and the monitoring facility.
Direct Connect – An alarm system that transmits signals directly to alarm receiving equipment at a PSAP. This term generally refers to burglar and hold-up alarm systems. See also Remote Station.
Direct Line – See Direct Connect.
Direct Line – See Dedicated Circuit.
Disarm, Turn Off – A procedure followed by a system user to turn off an alarm system so that no alarm signals will be transmitted to the monitoring facility, nor will any audible or visual signal be generated at the alarm system location. If a system is disarmed within a predetermined time period after a sensor has been triggered (typically referred to as a delay period), it may be possible to abort the alarm and prevent it from being transmitted to the monitoring facility.
Dispatch Agency, Private – A private dispatch agency sends and directs alarm investigators or private guards which may be part of the dispatch agency organization. Private dispatch agencies may be notified by a monitoring facility when municipal emergency personnel do not respond to alarm calls, or when municipal response is deemed to be too slow or unreliable by the alarm user.
Dispatch Agency, Public – A public dispatch agency that sends and directs municipal police, fire, and emergency medical service (EMS) personnel. The dispatch agency is notified by the monitoring facility when a received alarm signal has been determined to warrant investigation. Public dispatch agencies are known by a variety of names, including 9-1-1, PSAP, ECC, and police, fire, and EMS dispatch.
Dispatchable Event – An unexpected alarm that triggers an event. An alarm does not become a dispatchable event until the monitoring facility has followed its established procedures such as verification or other confirmation that the alarm requires further action. Subsequent signals from the same type of alarm system are part of the original dispatchable event until the event is resolved and the system has been reset. When an alarm is determined to be a dispatchable event, a request for response (RFR) is made to the appropriate response agency or agencies.
Door Switch – A sensor that detects the open or closed condition of a door or gate.
Double-Action Trigger – A sensor that requires separate simultaneous actions, or closely-spaced sequential actions before an alarm is transmitted to the monitoring facility. If only one action is taken, a trouble signal may be transmitted or logged and annunciated.
Dry-Pipe Flow Sensor – A sensor that detects the flow of water in a dry-pipe sprinkler system.
Dual-Technology Trigger – A sensor that uses two or more separate technologies, at least two of which must sense the designated condition before the device triggers an alarm signal. If only one technology senses the condition, a trouble signal may be transmitted or logged and annunciated.
Duress Alarm – A system that reports the presence of one or more persons trying to force an individual to enter, or reenter, a facility against the individual’s will. Note: Although the triggering devices for hold-up, duress, and panic alarms are often the same or similar, police response may differ. A duress alarm, for example, may be designed to detect and silently report an employee being forced back into a protected facility to provide access to a safe, vault, drug storage area, or area containing confidential records. The intent is generally not to make the criminal aware that a call for help is being triggered to the monitoring facility. In a residential environment, a duress alarm could signal an abduction or rape attempt.
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Early Morning Switch – A device, or a combination of devices, arranged to permit an alarm user, during a normal opening and alarm system disarming process, to send an emergency signal to a monitoring facility, indicating that the person is in a duress situation. The procedures involved in activating the Early Morning Switch are designed to conceal from the criminal that any procedure other than the normal and valid one is being followed.
Early Opening – The burglar alarm system has been disarmed earlier than the established opening time for that alarm system. Early opening is an access control and recording function.
Emergency Communication Center (ECC) – See Public Safety Answering Point.
Emergency Medical Service (EMS) Dispatch – An agency that dispatches emergency medical or ambulance personnel.
Emergency Medical Services (EMS) – Emergency medical service personnel who respond to an RFR.
Emergency Notification List – See Call List.
Emergency Response Personnel – Employees of public agencies or private organizations which train their employees to respond to alarms. These include police, fire, EMS, and ambulance personnel, private security agency employees, and alarm company or monitoring facility alarm investigators.
Emergency Response Support Personnel – Persons who provide support or assitance to the first person to arrive at the lcation from which an alarm signal has been received. Such personnel are employees of public agencies or private organizations which train their employees to respond to alarms. These include police, fire, EMS, and ambulance personnel, private security agency employees, and alarm company or monitoring facility alarm investigators.
Emergency Service – Repair service provided on a non-scheduled basis for the user, as needed.
Event – One or more related alarm or trouble signals.
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Facility Control System – A system that provides access to authorized persons, and may also record and report (1) which persons entered or left the facility or areas within the facility, (2) which doors or areas were accessed while within the facility, and (3) the time that each event occurred. A facility control system may also include access control equipment such as keys, access cards, locks, card reader, biometric identification devices, recorders, printers, and control equipment. Identifying, logging, and supervising persons who arm and disarm a burglar alarm system (commonly referred to as opening and closing) are also Facility Control System functions.
False Alarm – An alarm event indicating the presence of an emergency condition when none exists.
False Alarm Percentage – A number that represents false alarms as a percentage of all RFRs received by a PSAP. This number takes into consideration only the systems that have careless users or system problems. It totally ignores the thousands of alarm systems that never generate a false alarm. A far more significant index of alarm performance is the ASY.
Family Dwelling Unit – See Household.
Family Living Unit – See Household.
Fence Sensor – A seismic, vibration, shock, taut-wire, or other sensor that detects attempts to penetrate or climb over a fence. In some instances, fences are backed up by exterior motion sensors.
Fire Alarm – A system that detects and reports a fire in the protected premises, detects and reports water flowing in a sprinkler system, or detects and reports dangerous conditions such as smoke or overheated materials that may combust spontaneously.
Fire Alarm Retransmission – See Request For Response (RFR).
Fire Department – Fire department personnel who respond to an RFR.
Fire Dispatch – An agency that dispatches fire department personnel. Frequently the same group that also dispatches EMS personnel.
Fire-Pump Running Switch – A sensor that detects the operation of a fire pump in a sprinkler system. Note: When a fire pump is running there is often an assumption of a fire because the fire pump moves large volumes of water through a limited pipe capacity.
Fixed Temperature Sensor – A heat sensor that is triggered when a pre-determined temperature has been reached at the sensor.
Flame Detector – A sensor that “sees” the flicker of light emanating from a fire.
Floor Trap – See Trip Wire.
Foil – See Tinfoil.
Follow-Up Call – See Follow-Up Notification.
Follow-up Notification – Monitoring facility provides information to the PSAP, after an initial RFR, about (1) additional sensors at the protected premises reporting emergency conditions, (2) when a key holder is expected to arrive, (3) cancellation of an RFR, (4) the arrival of an alarm investigator or guard company representative, or (5) the confirmed alarm emergency reported by an alarm investigator or guard company representative from the user’s premises.
Foot Rail – A sensor that can be activated by a person’s foot to trigger a hold-up alarm signal.
Foot Switch – See Foot Rail.
Furnace Problem Sensor – A device used to monitor various operations of a heating plant.
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Gate (exterior) Switch – A door switch designed for the rugged conditions encountered in the exterior environment of rough use, temperature and moisture extremes, and the loose nature of many gates operating outside.
Geophone – See seismic sensor.
Glass Break Detector – A sensor that detects unique effects of breaking glass.
Guard – A person trained, and appropriately licensed if necessary, to provide guard service.
Guard Service – See Private Guard Service.
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Heat Sensor – A sensor that detects the heat generated by a fire.
Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning (HVAC) Alarm – A system that reports heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system problems, rather than life-threatening emergencies. Public emergency response or dispatch personnel are not normally contacted when these alarm systems detect a problem; protected property maintenance personnel tend to be notified by the monitoring facility.
High Temperature Sensor – A sensor that detects a higher-than-expected temperature — often in an unattended industrial process system.
High Water Level Sensor – A sensor that detects higher-than-expected water or other liquid levels. Example: Rising ground water in the basement of a building.
Hold-Up Alarm – A system that reports the presence of one or more criminals attempting to take goods or funds with implied or actual threat of force.
Hold-Up Alarm Devices – Hold-up alarms are silent alarm signals, whose sole purpose is to alert a monitoring facility that a possibly life threatening situation exists in which the person who triggers the signal feels it is too dangerous to do what the criminal requests and to wait to notify the police until after the criminal has departed. See also Panic Alarm.
Household – For purposes of fire alarm system classification, the family living unit in a single-family detached dwelling, single-family attached dwelling, multifamily building and mobile home. The definition excludes common usage areas in multifamily buildings such as corridors, lobbies, basements, etc.
Household Fire Alarm – A fire alarm system that protects a household, as opposed to any other type of occupancy. See Household, as defined herein.
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Identification of Alarm System Users – Means used to reliably identify users or alarm systems to monitoring facilities.
Industrial Process Alarm – A system that provides supervision for a wide variety of commercial and industrial processes, including sump-pump operations, water levels, pressures and temperatures, chemical processes, and special furnace operations, to name but a few. Normally, user employees or sub-contractors are notified when these systems report problems. When detected problems may affect the safety of life or property, regulations may also require notification of an AHJ.
Inspection – A visual survey of the appearance of an alarm installation intended to discover any obvious problems. Typically these might be alarm system wires that have been covered up during building construction or remodeling, loose doors or windows that may cause false alarms during storms, sprinkler risers and controls that may be blocked by merchandise making fire department access difficult or impossible during emergencies, etc. An inspection may include actual tests of alarm system sensors, controls, or transmitters.
Inspection Service – A service to provide visual surveys of the appearance of alarm installations intended to discover any obvious problems. Typically these might be alarm system wires that may have been covered up during building construction or remodeling, loose doors or windows that may cause false alarms during storms, sprinkler risers and controls that may be blocked by merchandise making fire department access difficult or impossible during emergencies, etc. An inspection may include actual tests of alarm system sensors, controls, or transmitters.
Instructions and Training – Information provided regarding the correct use of the system, including false alarm prevention and awareness.
Ionization Detector – A smoke sensor that detects the invisible gaseous products of combustion.
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Key Holder – A user, system operator, or authorized user agent who has a key or some other means to access the protected premises in the event that an alarm is received by the monitoring facility, and someone needs to provide police, fire, or EMS personnel access to the protected premises, or to reset the system.
Key Holder Notification List – See Call List.
Keypad – The portion of the arming station containing numbered pushbuttons similar to those on telephones or calculators. These control the arming or disarming of the system. They may also perform other functions.
Keyswitch – An alternate device used to arm or disarm the alarm system, instead of a keypad.
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Larceny-Theft – The unlawful taking or attempted taking of property other than a motor vehicle from the possession of another, by stealth, without force and without deceit, with intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property.
Late Opening – The alarm system has not been disarmed, and there is a time deadline beyond which the user wants to be sure that the premises are occupied. Late opening is an access control and recording system function.
Late-to-Set, Fail-to-Set, Late-to-Close – The alarm system has not been armed by the agreed on time deadline. Follow-up action by the monitoring facility may be appropriate. Late-to-Set and Fail-to-Set are generally synonymous terms. Late-to-Set, Fail-to-Set and Late-to-Close are access control and recording system functions.
Leased Line – See Dedicated Circuit.
Line Security Alarm – A system that monitors the integrity of the communication link between the alarm system and the monitoring facility, or between the alarm system and the serving telephone company’s nearest switching center.
Local Alarm System – An alarm system which relies on one or more visual or audible devices to alert occupants, neighbors, or passersby to a detected condition. A local alarm system does not send an alarm signal to a monitoring facility.
Long Range Radio – See Radio Network.
Low Temperature Sensor – A sensor that detects a lower-than-expected temperature. Examples: Unattended industrial process systems, a heated building subject to damage or whose contents are subject to damage due to below-freezing temperature, wet-pipe sprinkler systems, etc.
Low Water Level Sensor – A sensor that detects lower-than-expected water or other liquid levels. Examples: A sprinkler system tank, a building heating system’s boiler, a sprinkler system water reservoir, etc.
LRR – A synonym for Long Range Radio.
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Manual Burglar Alarm – See Hold-Up Alarm and Panic Alarm.
Manual Fire Alarm Station – A device that permits a fire alarm signal to be triggered manually.
Manual Hold-Up Alarm Button – A fixed-location or portable device that can be manually activated to initiate a hold-up alarm signal.
Medical Emergency (Service) Alarm – A system that reports a medical problem for response by relatives, friends, neighbors, or by a community’s EMS personnel, paramedics, or ambulance, depending on arrangements made with the monitoring facility.
Mercury Switch – A set of electrical contacts that are opened or closed as a sphere of liquid mercury encompasses them or is removed from them inside a hermetically sealed enclosure. Usually the enclosure is tilted in one direction to close the switch and in the opposite direction to open it.
Microphone – A sensor that hears sound within its area of sensitivity. The microphone, or its control circuit, can be adjusted to hear a certain frequency range or require a certain level of sound before sending an alarm transmission to the monitoring facility which can then “listen in” remotely.
Microwave – A motion sensor that detects Doppler pattern shifts when a body moves within its area of sensitivity, using high-frequency microwave energy. The emitted transmissions may penetrate solid building walls, partitions, floors or ceilings.
Money Clip – See Bill Trap.
Monitored Alarm System – An alarm system which reports detected conditions to a monitoring facility. Monitoring facilities are usually located off-site from the protected premises. When a monitoring facility is located within the building or complex that includes the protected premises, the alarm system is called a Proprietary system.
Monitoring Equipment – Equipment at a monitoring facility that receives and displays signals from alarm systems.
Monitoring Facility – Any organization or agency that watches over alarm receiving equipment and follows up with appropriate actions when alarm and other signals are received.
Monitoring Facility Structure – The physical structure of the monitoring facility includes the room and associated areas in which the monitoring equipment and monitoring operations personnel are located, and general offices and other support facilities.
Monitoring Facility, Non-UL/FM-Listed – A monitoring facility, or central station, that is not listed by UL or FMRC, the operation of which is not supervised or inspected by either of these nationally-recognized organizations.
Monitoring Facility, UL/FM-Listed, Full Service – See Central Station, UL/FM-Listed, Full Service.
Monitoring Operations Room – The physical room or rooms that house alarm monitoring equipment, monitoring operations personnel, directly related equipment and personnel support rooms. This is often referred to as “the central station.”
Motion Sensors – Devices that detect motion within their range of sensitivity.
Multiple Sensor Alarm – An alarm generated when at least two separate sensors detect the condition before the alarm is triggered. In some instances, redundant sensors in different system zones must trip before the alarm is triggered. However, activation of one sensor may trigger a trouble or pre-alarm signal. Example: Smoke detectors that are cross-zone-wired so that two or more zones must detect the smoke before an alarm condition is created.
Multiple-Activation Trigger – This is not really a special type of sensor. Rather it is a system designed feature that requires two or more sequential activations of the sensor before an alarm signal is transmitted to the monitoring facility.
Multiplex Network – A multi-point analogue data network providing continuous polling by the receiving terminal of control panels at multiple subscriber locations. The polling provides the receiver with reports on the status or status changes of subscriber alarm systems.
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Notification of Authorities – See Request For Response (RFR).
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Open-Pipe (Deluge) Flow Sensor – A sensor that detects the flow of water in an open-pipe sprinkler system.
Other Notifications – Notification provided by the monitoring facility to guard services, serving alarm companies, AHJs, and non-alarm equipment service vendors.
Owner – See User.
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Packet Switched Network – A data transmission network, shared by many users, in which multiple data transmissions can be sent concurrently. The communication paths are supervised and managed by the service-providing telephone company and are generally equipped to provide alternate paths automatically and quickly without interruption of service.
Packet Switched Network – A data transmission network, shared by many users, in which multiple data transmissions can be sent concurrently. The communication paths are supervised and managed by the service providing telephone company and are generally equipped to provide alternate paths automatically and quickly without interruption of service.
Panic Alarm – A system that reports a more general type of perceived emergency, including the presence of one or more unruly or inebriated individuals, unwanted persons trying to gain entry, observed intruders in a private yard or garden area, or a medical emergency. Provides police with little specific information, but is often the only way a user can call for assistance under abnormal conditions.
Panic Alarm Devices – A call for assistance triggered either by an alarm user manually activating a residential alarm system, or a user in a business or commercial establishment triggering a call for assistance that is also an on-site audible alarm. Such systems are also sometimes referred to in some jurisdictions as Manual Burglar Alarms. Activating a panic alarm is intended to alert everyone within hearing distance, including a potential criminal, that an apparent emergency exists, and that assistance has been requested. The sound is the prime deterrent. Police response is only of secondary importance.
Panic Button – A manually-activated device to trigger a panic alarm.
Partitioned System – A burglar alarm system operated from a single control panel which allows two or more areas to be armed and disarmed independently of each other.
Pass Card – Issued to users, system operators, and authorized user agents. The card generally lists a pass word or number.
Pass Code – A word or number, issued at the user’s request, to identify the user, a system operator, and an authorized user agent to the monitoring facility. The code may be used as part of the arming or disarming procedure.
Pass Word – See Pass Code.
Passive Infra-Red – A motion sensor that detects a change in infra-red energy that typically occurs when a person, pet, or other object moves within the detector’s field of sensitivity.
Permanent Schedule – A set of time periods during which the alarm system is scheduled to be armed or disarmed. Permanent schedules are access control and recording system functions.
Photo-Electric Beam – A sensor that detects the blocking of a beam of invisible light between two or more points.
Photo-Electric Beam Detector – A smoke sensor that detects the loss of light between a transmitting unit and an accompanying receiving unit, due to the presence of visible smoke between the units.
Photo-Electric Detector – A smoke sensor that detects light reflected off smoke particles in a tiny chamber within the sensor.
Physical Response to Alarm Site – Physical response to receipt of a signal from a protected premises is initiated by the monitoring facility when it causes someone to travel to the alarm site. Such a person may be an employee of the monitoring facility, a contract guard or maintenance service organization, or a representative of the alarm user. If appropriate, the monitoring facility may also request response from police, fire, or EMS personnel.
Pneumatic Tubing, Heat Sensor – A heat sensor that detects the expansion of air inside the tubing, resulting from an increase of temperature caused by a fire. This type of heat detector is ideal for use in areas in which no electrical devices should be operating.
Polarity Reversal – A direct connected alarm system that uses polarity reversal to indicate an alarm condition at the monitoring alarm receiving panel. See also Direct Connect.
Police Call Alarm – See Panic Alarm.
Police Connect – An alarm system that reports directly to alarm receiving equipment at a police department. See also Direct Connect.
Police Department – Municipal police, sheriff’s department, or other law enforcement personnel who respond to an RFR.
Police Dispatch – An agency that dispatches police.
Police/Fire Department Monitoring Facility – A municipal facility that, in addition to performing other activities, monitors alarm signals received by monitoring equipment that it provides or allows others to provide within the facility. Alarm systems connected to such equipment are called “Direct Connected” or “Remote Station” systems. Note: Such systems rarely incorporate “verification” capabilities to permit screening of false alarms prior to police or fire department dispatch procedures being followed.
Power Failure Sensor – See Power Off Sensor.
Power Off Sensor – A sensor that detect loss of power. Often this is provided as part of a sprinkler supervisory system that monitors the ability of a fire pump to operate, but is also used to detect loss of power for many other systems requiring continuous power.
Pressure Pad – A sensor that detects an increase or decrease in pressure (such as a person standing on the pad or an object being removed from the pad).
Preventive Maintenance – Routine scheduled service work on an alarm system to detect and prevent predictable problems from occurring, such as batteries that lose their ability to retain a charge, smoke detectors that become dirty or blocked, motion detectors whose sensitivity may change with time, switches that may become loose, etc.
Primary PSAP – Another term for PSAP. See Public Safety Answering Point.
Private Guard Service – A non-public business organization providing trained, armed or unarmed response personnel in uniform. A monitoring facility or a serving alarm company may provide such personnel.
Private Telephone Line – See Unlisted Telephone Number.
Proprietary Central Station – See Proprietary Monitoring Facility.
Proprietary Monitoring Facility – A monitoring facility owned and operated by the owner or management of the protected premises or by the owner or management of the building complex in which the alarm system is located.
Protected Premises – The physical site at which an alarm system is installed and operational.
Proximity Sensor – See Capacity Sensor.
Public Fire Service Communication Center (PFSCC) – Another name for the agency that receives and dispatches RFRs to fire alarm signals received by monitoring facilities.
Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) – A generic name for a municipal or county emergency communication center (ECC) dispatch agency that directs 9-1-1 or other emergency calls to appropriate police, fire, and EMS agencies and personnel.
Public Switched Network – See Dial-up Network.
Public Switched Network – See Dial-up Network.
Pull Station – See Manual Fire Alarm Station.
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Radio Alarm Monitoring – Monitoring alarm systems via the use of Long Range Radio.
Radio Network – A network of radio transmitters or transceivers capable of sending alarm status messages to one or more radio receivers or transceivers whch are at, or in communication with, an alarm monitoring facility or other alarm signal receiving station.
Radio Transmission – A voice or data communication path between the monitoring facility and a PSAP using an FCC-licensed radio frequency.
RAM – A synonym for Radio Alarm Monitoring. See also Radio Network.
Rate-of-Rise Sensor – A heat sensor that detects a specific rate-of-temperature increase at the sensor.
Reed Switch – A magnetically-activated, hermetically sealed sensor.
Remote Station – An alarm system that transmits signals directly to alarm receiving equipment at a PSAP. The “Remote Station” term is generally used for fire alarm systems reporting to fire departments, rather than for burglar or hold-up alarm systems. See also Direct Connect.
Repeater Station – See Satellite Station.
Request For Response (RFR) – A communication from the monitoring facility to the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) or Public Fire Service Communication Center (PFSCC) in which the monitoring facility requests that appropriate emergency personnel be dispatched in response to an alarm. An RFR is more than merely a retransmission of the received alarm signal at the monitoring facility. RFRs may be made verbally or digitally via computer-to-computer, or computer-to-printer data transmission. An RFR may also be made to a private response organization.
Reset – A return to normal operation for an alarm system that has been in a trouble condition, out of service, or in an alarm condition. When a system has been “reset” it is back in full operation and subsequent signals received from the system will be treated normally. A reset is more than merely the restoration-to-normal of a sensor, or an abort message or call from the user. With a reset event, the system is back in full and normal operation.
Residential Burglar Alarm, Audible – An audible system in a house, apartment, condominium or other dwelling with an interior or exterior sounding device.
Residential Burglar Alarm, Silent – A system in a house, apartment, condominium or other dwelling without any sounding devices. A distinctive signaling device intended to provide an early warning signal to the system operator is not considered a sounding device for purposes of this definition, and the presence of one or more of these signaling devices does not make the system an audible alarm system.
Residential Fire Alarm – See Household Fire Alarm.
Response Statistics – Statistical records of alarms received by monitoring facilities, times of various follow-up actions, and reported causes.
Restore – A system, zone, or sensor that is returned to normal status. This does not necessarily mean that the alarm system is considered to be back to full operating status by the monitoring facility. However, the term tends to be used interchangeably with Reset, and there is no formal or generally accepted distinction between them.
Restore-to-Normal – See Restore.
Ring-Down Circuit – See Dedicated Circuit.
Ring-Down Line – A dedicated circuit used for voice communication between the monitoring facility and the PSAP, operating so that when the telephone handset is picked up at either end, the other end rings.
Robbery – The unlawful taking or attempted taking of property that is in the immediate possession of another by force or threat of force.
Runner Service – See Alarm Investigator Service.
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Safe Door Switch – A special sensor that detects the open or closed position of a safe door.
Satellite Station – A structure, remote from the primary monitoring facility, housing equipment used to gather signals to be forwarded to the primary monitoring facility for processing and response.
Scheduled Test – Activation of one or more sensors (flow switches, motion detectors, door switches, alarm buttons, etc.), controls and communicators, according to a formal arrangement between the user and the testing organization (monitoring facility, serving alarm company, or organization that specializes in system testing), or according to some published requirement of NFPA, AHJ, FMRC, or UL.
Secondary PSAP – A dispatch agency that receives calls for services the PSAP or Primary PSAP originally receives but does not dispatch and direct. An example might be when a 9-1-1 center dispatches police on a metropolitan-wide basis, but relays fire calls to individual community fire department dispatch centers. Such centers are then referred to as Secondary PSAPs.
Seismic Glass Break Detector – A glass break detector that senses unique seismic shock frequencies that travel through the glass as it breaks.
Seismic Sensor – A sensor that detects vibrations generated by a person walking or digging in its area of sensitivity.
Sequential Alarm – When two or more sensors sequentially detect a condition and each triggers an alarm. When this happens, there is a high probability that a real emergency exists.
Service Interruption – Interruption of alarm system service or communication to monitoring facility or between the monitoring facility and the PSAP, or other necessary locations.
Servicing Alarm Company – A company that provides on-site service, inspections, tests, training, and related services. A servicing alarm company may, or may not, provide monitoring services.
Serving and Responding Organization – An alarm company that provides a complete line of alarm related services. These include consulting, system design, sales, installation, service, emergency response, inspections, tests, transmission tests, monitoring, and guard or trained alarm investigator response. Other organizations provide only one or more of these services.
Signal Indicating Device – A device that provides an audible or visual indication that an emergency condition has been detected. Audible devices include electronic sounders, bells, horns, and sirens. Visual devices include incandescent or strobe lights. Signal indicating devices also include panels that provide lamps or schematic building diagrams to identify the specific location of the sensor or sensors that detected an emergency, or that are in other-than-normal status.
Single Sensor Alarm – A sensor detects the emergency condition and causes an alarm to be transmitted to the monitoring facility or to be indicated audibly or visually. Some sensors use single switches to trigger the alarm; other sensors require that two switches activate before the alarm is triggered. Some sensors use two or more detection technologies and require that two or more technologies sense the emergency condition before the alarm is triggered. All of these are single sensors.
Smoke Detector – A sensor that detects the presence of smoke resulting from a fire or a nascent fire.
Sound Detector – See Audio Detector or Microphone.
Sprinkler Control Valve Switches – A switch that detects the off-normal position of a shut-off control valve in a sprinkler system to warn of a potentially dangerous situation in which water cannot flow through the pipes in case of fire. Three common types of switches are:
- Gate Switch
- Outside Stem & Yoke (OS&Y) Switch
- Post Indicator Valve (PIV) Switch
Sprinkler System Water Flow Sensors – A sensor that detects the flow of water in a sprinkler system.
Stored Audio – Limited duration recording of audible sounds at the protected premises at the time when an alarm signal is generated. Generally, such recorded audio data can be retrieved immediately after the alarm signal reaches the monitoring facility while the communication link between the protected premises and the monitoring facility remains in place. Stored audio allows the monitoring facility to recall the sounds occurring at about the time the alarm was activated, and shortly thereafter.
Stored Video – Limited duration video recording of conditions at the protected premises at the time when an alarm signal is generated. Generally, such recorded data can be retrieved immediately after the alarm signal reaches the monitoring facility while the communication link between the protected premises and the monitoring facility remains in place. Stored video allows the monitoring facility to view events occurring at about the time the alarm was activated, and shortly thereafter.
Stress Sensor – An electronic pressure pad that responds to changes in load.
Supervisory Alarm – Sensors that detect conditions which represent potential problems, and which require attention without unnecessary delay in order to prevent a possible emergency from developing.
Swinger Shunt – A method of by-passing a complete alarm system or a portion of an alarm system to prevent repeated alarm signals from being transmitted by the alarm system before it can be reset. The purpose of a swinger shunt is to prevent false alarms and to prevent unduly loading a communication channel with unnecessary signal volume.
Switched Network – See Dial-Up Network.
System Manual (owner’s manual) – Provides instructions on how a system is to be armed, disarmed, lists special features, and how to prevent false alarms. Tells how to obtain additional information and training for new system operators.
System Number (alarm system ID) – A number or code that uniquely identifies an alarm system to the monitoring facility. One address or location may contain several separate alarm systems, but each system has its own system number. Also, one control panel may represent two or more systems.
System Operator – A person who operates an alarm system. Such person is assumed to have been taught how to arm, or how to arm and disarm the system, and how to prevent alarm signals from being transmitted to the monitoring facility unnecessarily or by mistake. A system operator may, or may not, be an authorized user agent.
System Operator Instructions – An abbreviated version of the system manual that tells system operators how to arm and disarm the system, how to prevent false alarms, and what they can do if they cause a false alarm.
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Taut-Wire Sensor – A type of fence sensor using a wire under tension as a sensor. If the wire is cut, the tension is removed. If someone leans against the wire, the tension is increased. Either change in the tension is detected and activates the switch.
Telephone Line Monitor – A sensor that monitors one or more conditions of a telephone circuit to detect when such a circuit has become incapable of reporting alarm detected problems to the monitoring facility.
Temporary Schedule – Temporary changes in times during which the alarm system is supposed to be armed or disarmed. Temporary schedules are access control and recording system functions.
Test – The act of activating one or more sensors, devices, controls, communicating devices, or other components of an alarm system in an effort to confirm proper operation of the equipment.
Test Service – A service to test the operation of alarm systems. See also Test.
Tie Line – See Dedicated Circuit.
Time and Material (T&M) Service – Service provided for a user who does not have a maintenance agreement or where the service provided is not included in the service contract.
Time-Out Device – A separate device or feature built into alarm system control equipment that turns off signal indicating devices after a predetermined time interval which is deemed adequate to warn occupants of a detected emergency, to scare criminals, or to alert neighbors, public safety personnel, or passers-by. Time-out devices help reduce the nuisance effect of an alarm system on neighbors. Before signal indicating devices can operate again, a manual reset procedure is generally required.
Tinfoil – A thin electric-current carrying lead tape, applied to glass or other surface that breaks when the surface to which it is applied is violated. (Tinfoil contains no tin.)
Transmission Test – Verification of the ability of a system control to send signals to the monitoring facility which it is intended to notify.
Trap – See Trip Wire.
Trip Wire – A string or wire manually set before the alarm system is armed, that an unsuspecting intruder will knock out of its receiving socket if the trip wire is disturbed.
Trouble – A non-emergency condition indicating that the alarm system is inoperative or functioning at less than optimum capability. Trouble conditions may include sensors that have become less sensitive or more susceptible to causing false alarms, or batteries that have deteriorated or are inoperative.
Trouble Advisory – Sensor circuits inside control equipment, or devices outside control equipment that detect electrical or mechanical problems of the alarm system as opposed to problems relating to the protected premises.
Twisted Wire, Heat Sensor – A length of twisted steel wire, separated by thermoplastic insulation designed to melt at temperatures indicative of fire. As the plastic insulation melts, the pressure of the twisted steel wires causes the wires to “short”, triggering the fire alarm signal.
Types of Alarm Systems – Alarm systems are divided into several broad categories, as listed below. The terms used to identify each type may vary, depending on who is using the term; however, the system descriptions that follow describe the meaning of the terms used.
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Ultrasonic – A motion sensor, similar to a microwave sensor, but one that operates in a lower frequency range in which the emitted transmissions do not penetrate solid building walls, partitions, floors or ceilings.
Unlisted Telephone Number – A non-published dial-up network telephone number used for a specific purpose.
Update – See Follow-up Notification.
User – The person responsible for the correct operation of the alarm system (the boss, the buyer). Not necessarily the person who actually operates the alarm system.
User Representative Notification – Notification provided to authorized user agents upon receipt of, or failure to receive, certain signals, whether or not one or more PSAPs have been notified.
User Training – Service offered by the monitoring facility or the serving alarm company. Trains authorized personnel in the correct use of the system, including ways to prevent false alarms, and alarm abort and cancellation procedures.
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Vault Door Switch – A special sensor that detects the open or closed position of a vault door.
Verbal Notification – A telephone or radio call to the PSAP, to provide RFR information about a detected emergency, the type of emergency, name of the alarm user, address, and other relevant information that the monitoring facility can provide or the PSAP may request.
Verified Alarm – An alarm that has been confirmed by monitoring facility contact with the protected premises or an authorized user agent, an alarm from sequentially detected and reported events, a multiple-sensor detected event, or an alarm reported by a system user.
Vibration Sensor – A sensor that detects vibrations generated during forced entry or an attempted forced entry.
Video Alarm Verification – See Visual Alarm Verification.
Visual Alarm Verification – The transfer to the monitoring facility of visual conditions existing at the protected premises as a result of activation of one or more non-video sensors, to confirm or deny the validity of the alarm signal.
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Warranty – A written document that defines the alarm company’s obligations to correct identified and reported to the alarm company problems experienced by a user. A warranty (1) may include an obligation to repair or replace defective parts, subassemblies, or equipment, (2) may, or may not, include labor to effect such repairs and replacements, and (3) may be for defined periods of time. Hardware manufacturer’s warranties may, or may not extend to the user.
Water Flow Sensors – See Sprinkler System Water Flow Sensors.
Wet-Pipe Flow Sensor – A sensor that detects the flow of water in a wet-pipe sprinkler system.
Window Foil – See Tinfoil.
Window Switch – A sensor that detects the open or closed position of a window, or an in-between position in a situation where a window may be set to a partially open position while the alarm system is armed, to permit outside air to enter a room without the window open wide enough for an intruder to enter.
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Zone – An identifiable sensor or group of sensors, connected to an alarm control, that can be addressed and manipulated from the control, from the monitoring facility, or from an arming station. Zones may also represent different types of protection such as burglar, fire, hold-up, etc.
© 2005 Central Station Alarm Association – Used with permission. www.csaaul.org