Alarm Basics, Part II
The second part of this series looks at differences between mercantile
& central station alarm systems
by David Sexton, CPCU
Jewelers Mutual Insurance Co.
A burglar alarm system detects an intruder's entry or attempted entry
and signals it to others. Two types of systems commonly used in jewelry
stores are mercantile and central station alarms, certified by Underwriters
Laboratories, a national testing facility for devices, systems and materials.
A UL certificate is important because it declares only UL-listed equipment
was used in the installation of the system and it's covered by a maintenance
contract that calls for prompt repair service and yearly inspection. The
system also is subject to UL's field countercheck program, which sends inspectors
to verify compliance with UL requirements.
With a basic mercantile burglar alarm, an intruder triggers a local alarm
(bell or siren) designed to unnerve him or her. Some mercantile systems
have supplemental remote monitoring that transmits a signal to a police
station or remote monitoring facility. This system may be appropriate for
jewelers in non-urban areas, but only when it's monitored remotely to provide
effective response when an intruder is detected.
More reliable burglar alarm protection is provided when the alarm signal
sounds locally and central station service is provided by a commercial agency
meeting UL-criteria for training, monitoring and maintenance of alarm systems.
Trained operators and alarm investigators are present around the clock to
supervise, record and respond to alarm signals. When an alarm is received,
an operator notifies police and the business owner and dispatches alarm
investigators to the site.
Central station service has other advantages. Have you ever left your
store and forgotten to set the alarm? The UL central station monitors and
documents opening and closing signals. By supervising these signals, the
central station can determine "irregularities" in the time frames
in which the signals are received and act accordingly. By contrast, many
mercantile systems are under the sole control of the owner, with no back-up
supervision or monitoring to assure they're activated at closing.
UL central station service isn't available everywhere. Experienced jewelers-block
underwriters can help you evaluate your needs and the cost-effective alternatives
available to you. This evaluation takes into account trade-offs between
electronic and physical security because of limited options. Next month,
Changing Your Alarm System?
Don't Forget Your Insurer
Always contact your insurer before changing your alarm system. A description
of the system is part of your insurance application, so changes could jeopardize
your insurance contract.
In some cases, alarm companies recommend changes to reduce the cost of
the alarm service that drastically increase insurance premiums or even void
In some parts of the country, alarm service has changed when one alarm
company buys another one. If this happens to you, contact your insurer immediately.
David Sexton leads the large accounts underwriting department at Jewelers
Mutual Insurance Co., Neenah, WI. He also is a corporate member of UL's
Burglary Protection Council and the Central Station Alarm Association.
Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.