The Truth about Fire Alarm Monitoring Services

By Justin Sagalow

October 30, 2022

If you don't want to supervise your own fire protection system, fire monitoring services are incredibly helpful. There are several central station monitoring services out there that offer to monitor your residential and commercial fire alarm protection systems and security systems.

Putting someone else in charge of your fire alarm monitoring system saves you time and responsibility. But, do these services really save you money?

Types of fire alarm monitoring services

Before we review the hidden costs associated with hiring a fire alarm monitoring service, we should quickly review the two types of monitoring services and what distinguishes one from the other.

There are currently two types of NFPA-approved fire alarm monitoring services. The NFPA 72 National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code® best describes these as remote supervision station services and central station services.

Remote supervision station services are 24-hour services that monitor other people's locations for a recurring fee. They have dedicated employees who supervise their clients' alarm systems from a remote central monitoring station.

In addition to fulfilling the duties of their remote supervision station contemporaries, central station monitoring companies also offer additional services. Generally, central station services will take care of the initial installation and maintenance. Some central station services go a step further and even offer complimentary fire alarm inspection and testing.

Why do people use fire alarm monitoring services?

As we've covered before on this blog, not every fire alarm system needs to be monitored. The conventional, uncomplicated fire alarm systems that are commonly found in small houses and residential buildings have no legal monitoring obligation. Therefore, homeowners and very small property managers don't usually need to look into their fire alarm management options.

one family home

This is a single-family home. The conventional, uncomplicated fire alarm systems that are commonly found in small houses and residential buildings have no legal monitoring obligation.

However, per NFPA codes, active monitoring services must be established and maintained in any commercial structure that is legally required to have a fire alarm system.

Owners and operators of large residential, commercial, educational, and municipal establishments are typically the ones who inquire about fire alarm system monitoring. They are the kinds of decision makers who want the cheapest and easiest way to monitor their building's fire alarm system.

There are three main reasons why these decision makers usually decide to hire a fire alarm monitoring service. Of course, there are other reasons to solicit a company that offers fire alarm management, but in our experience, the most common motivations are:

  • Not knowing what fire alarm monitoring is or how to do it
  • Believing that you lack the labor and/or resources required to monitor your own fire alarm system
  • Believing that paying for fire alarm monitoring services is cheaper than monitoring your own fire alarm system

There absolutely are cases where these reasons are valid. Sometimes, commissioning a third-party service is truly the solution that makes the most sense. However, our fear is that many of the people who believe that this situation pertains to them are mistaken.

The truth is that many times, these prospective clients do not have all of the facts about fire alarm monitoring before they make their decision. They hire a third-party alarm management service, believing it to be the easiest and most economical option. However, due to hidden fees, they end up paying more in the long run.

If you do a little research online, you'll most likely find that most UL-listed commercial fire alarm monitoring services charge between $50-100 a month. These statements are often in the form of multi-year contracts. However, even this monthly figure is up for debate.

These fees are often determined by the amount of fire alarm control panels that require monitoring. Depending on the size of the facility and number of alarms and sensors being monitored, this monthly figure can be much higher. This is especially the case for large campuses with multiple buildings.


This is a fire alarm control panel. Oftten, fire alarm monitoring services will adjust their rates depending on how many fire alarm control panels they are tasked with monitoring.

With Digitize, you can avoid the recurring payments typical of fire alarm monitoring services

Digitize is a designer and manufacturer of fire alarm monitoring equipment. We try our best to keep our blogs honest and informative. Therefore, we make no secret of viewing self-monitoring as a cost-effective alternative to hiring a fire alarm monitoring service.

prism lx central display screen

This is an image of a Prism LX central display screen. For those who wish to monitor their fire monitoring system instead of hiring a third party service to do it, the prism lx is one example of a readily available server on the market.

Due to the nature of recurring payments, it is impossible to quantify the amount of money you will spend on a fire alarm monitoring service. That is solely determined by the lifespan of your establishment and the standards established by the NFPA. But, just to illustrate a point, let's take a look at one of Digitize's most notable clients, Harvard University.

Harvard has been around since 1636. Just imagine how much money Harvard would have spent on monthly recurring payments to monitoring companies if they had elected not to monitor their own fire alarm systems.

Now obviously, this example is somewhat tongue-in-cheek. We know it would be ridiculous to expect every company and municipal department to view their expenses in the form of ROI over nearly 400 years. It is, however, true that Harvard has saved money in the long-run by making their fire alarm monitoring system investment a one-time purchase.

With Digitize's expert training and support, they have been happily and successfully self-monitoring their fire alarm system for many years. And, they aren't alone! By building you a custom alarm system and teaching you how to take control of your alarms, we’ll help you improve fire safety, reduce wasted expenses, and get fast ROI.

Give us a call to discuss your options

Your best next step is to give me, or any other Digitize engineer, a call. We'll help you quantify the cost of a one-time purchase vs. recurring service fees paid to a monitoring company.

By opting to monitor your own fire alarm system, you'll be saving money in the long run. More than that, you'll be making the most of your fire alarm monitoring system. You’ll be custom-picking features specific to your needs. That means that you'll be getting what you pay for and controlling the way that you protect what you love.

With that information, you can make an informed decision for your organization.

Give me a call at 1-800-523-7232 or email me at

Justin Sagalow

Justin Sagalow

Justin Sagalow is quite uniquely qualified for his Marketing Writer Position at Digitize. Arriving at Digitize with experience in law, finance, and editorial positions, Justin's skillset allow him to effectively communicate how best Digitize can address each client's individual needs. From his...Read More