Warning - today's email contains sarcasm, not suitable for all readers.  I apologize in advance. 


How are alarm companies handling "Ambush" alarms



    I would like to know how others are dealing with the following.   

    We had a police agency respond to a silent AMBUSH signal from a residential system.   They checked the perimeter of the residence and found no disturbance; they were unable to get the homeowner to answer the door.  They cleared the premise.  When we asked the PD, they indicated they would not force entry.  I do understand their stance as they do not think they are authorized to break down the door in this type of situation.  (In this case it was user error --- so somewhat relieved they did not break down the door.)

    How are other companies selling / explaining AMBUSH to their customers?   I am of the mind that I may back away from including this as a feature because I am concerned about the rare incident where the homeowner thought the police would respond differently.     

    We have also started to notice one PD not wanting to respond to an alarm unless an RP [responsible person] was able to respond and meet them at the premise.   Since we have customers in many jurisdictions we are finding it challenging to stay on top of how these PDs respond (or not respond) to the various types of alarms.   The police officer we spoke to in the AMBUSH scenario told me in 30 years in the department he had never heard the term AMBUSH or DURESS in regards to an alarm system (??).  

    Any feedback by other companies and/or central stations would be appreciated. 





    I believe the term I am more familiar with is "panic" alarm.  I was confused at first with your use of the work Ambush and thought it might be some new technology ----- I was getting ready to update the contracts !!

    So panic, or ambush or duress - whatever you want to call it, is a signal that conveys a message that the subscriber is in imminent danger and requires PD response.  It's not "I've fallen" but "help, someone is in the house".  No wonder they can't open the door.  

    Police are skeptical that an alarm is actually a real emergency condition and not a false alarm, as the great majority of them are.  It's not surprising they aren't willing to break down a door [unlike the fire department who loves to break down doors or even better - come through the side of the house even if there is no evidence outside of smoke or fire] (sorry  I'm just in that kind of mood at the moment).  

    Panic alarms are less likely to be false alarms.  It is not unusual for local ordinances and laws to require that panic alarms be activated by recessed buttons, or prohibiting the activation by adding or skipping one number in the arm / off code on the panel.  I guess the PD has determined that recessed buttons and different codes reduce the likelihood of false alarms.  

    ECV is also not particularly helpful with panic alarms.  Presumably a subscriber trying to evade an intruder doesn't have the time to answer a call from a bored central station operator who wants to chat about how things are going and what's your password.  Unlike a prime time TV cop show, the operator is not likely to know there's a knife at the subscriber's neck while the intruder waits for the sub to give the all clear code.

    Your other observation is also right on the money.  You can bet your butt that had the cops broken down that door - and the sub wasn't home and somehow it was a false panic or ambush alarm that was reported by the central station - guess who is going to be asked to pay for that door and who knows what other damages caused by the PD running through the house.  All we need a is box of donuts missing from the kitchen counter to make it a major case beyond your E&O deductible.  

So what to do?  Subscribers want panic alarms - because they are available- and because you're there to scare the crap out of them and of course they need the added protection.  Here's my recommendation, unsolicited I might ad:  Sell them a Videofied system.  That way when the panic alarm goes off the central station will have video confirmation, assuming the cameras cover the area where the attach is occurring.  Might need a few extra cameras. 

    And, seriously, you can't give up on any form of alarm protection just because PD response is less than ideal.  In some areas there is virtually no PD response to intrusion alarms - and that doesn't mean the industry can't sell alarms in those areas.  So keep the faith, sell the services and make sure you are using the Standard Alarm Contract forms so if you get sued you have a fighting chance.


Question: Can Canadian contractor service within US



Just a quick question from a Canadian contractor.  We have been asked if we can install a security system for a long time customer who purchased a home in Virginia?   Not understanding free trade I am not sure what the parameters are.  We are 38 years in business, have Canadian masters electrical license, Canadian fire alarm certified and listed for ulc for monitored fire and sprinkler, five million liability and auto . Your input is greatly appreciated.  





    Well my good Canadian fellow, I am sorry to say that all of your credentials, impressive as they are, won't get you on the NYC Subway or permit you to install an alarm in any state that requires an alarm license.  Those states that waive alarm license requirements for master electricians typically limit the electrician's work to the area where the electrical license is issued and within that jurisdiction only.  There may be state license laws that permit someone with your credentials to waive in - no test - but surely a license fee.  You can get head start on state license requirements here: https://www.kirschenbaumesq.com/page/alarm-law-issues

    I'm not sure what "free trade" means either, but I think it has to do with bringing in all the illegal drugs from foreign countries for US consumption.  Ha ha.