Problems with Fire Alarm Monitoring Services

By Andrew Erickson

September 8, 2022

Fire alarm monitoring services are a vital part of any business, college campus, military base, or municipal government. They provide peace of mind, knowing that someone is watching out for potential fires and will contact the appropriate authorities in the event of an emergency.

However, many businesses rely on third-party fire alarm monitoring services to provide this security.

There are several potential problems with this approach. Let's take a look.

Fire alarm monitoring services require endless fees

Fire alarm monitoring services come at a cost, and that cost can vary depending on the service provider. It's important to do your research and compare prices so that you can find the best deal possible. However, it's also important to remember that the safety of the public is not something you should skimp on.

Additionally, many fire alarm monitoring services require an ongoing monthly fee. This can be a significant expense, particularly for entities that have multiple locations. And, if you ever decide to cancel the service, you may be charged a hefty cancellation fee.

It's possible that you'll be able to fit something in your budget long-term, just remember that recurring fees are not going to stop at any point. Also, be sure to check your contract for any unexpected surprises if you decide to make a change later.

It's difficult to react when your alarm monitoring service raises its prices

If you're not happy with the fire alarm monitoring service you're using (or even if you are), it can be difficult to switch to another provider if that company decides to raise its rates. This can leave you stuck paying more than you want to for an increasingly expensive service that may not be as reliable as you need it to be.

Third-party fire alarm monitoring services are not always reliable

While it's certainly important to have a fire alarm system in place, it's equally important to make sure that it's reliable. Unfortunately, third-party fire alarm monitoring services are not always as reliable as you might hope.

There have been instances where a service failed to notify the authorities of a fire, which can result in serious damage and even loss of life. In some cases, a service can provide false alarms, which can tie up resources unnecessarily.

Admittedly, these instances are rare. Nonetheless, no one will be more focused on your fire alarms than people actually on your team.

Using an external service means you're not developing your own staff

When you use a third-party fire alarm monitoring service, you're not developing your own in-house staff of experts. This means that if something goes wrong with the service (or your own alarm monitoring systems that feed it data), you may not have anyone on hand who knows how to fix the problem.

A wave of retirements can be an important opportunity to keep expertise in-house. With so many experienced employees retiring, it's crucial to have a plan in place to ensure that their knowledge and experience are not lost.

If you switch to an external service now (as many new hires are probably suggesting), you may find that you've created a lot of accidental "tech debt" as a result. It will be challenging to ever take back control of your monitoring.

A monitoring service will use a monitoring station that is probably far away from you

The monitoring station (central station) that your third-party fire alarm monitoring service uses is probably located far away from you. That's very different from a room within your own facility. Although they may be professional, they can't possibly understand as much about your facility as your own staff.

Take caution before you make your choice

The bottom line is that relying on a third-party fire alarm monitoring service can be a risky proposition. While these services can provide some peace of mind, there are potential problems that you should be aware of before you make the decision to use one. Weigh the pros and cons carefully to decide if a third-party fire alarm monitoring service is right for you.

A central fire alarm server that you operate yourself is an alternative to consider

An alternative to using a third-party fire alarm monitoring service is to operate a central fire alarm server yourself. This gives you more control over your system and allows you to monitor it more closely. You'll also have experts on staff who can quickly address any problems that may arise.

Operating your own central fire alarm server does have some drawbacks, of course. It's important to weigh all the factors before you make a decision. But if you're looking for more control and peace of mind, self-monitoring may be the way to go.

If you're looking for any fire alarm device, it's important to make sure that the equipment is UL-listed (or carries an ETL listing).

UL-listed equipment has been tested and certified by Underwriters Laboratories, a safety consulting and certification company. This means that you can be sure that the equipment will meet or exceed the safety standards set by the government.

In addition to fire alarm systems, UL-listed equipment can also be found in a variety of other products, including electrical wiring, appliances, and even toys. It's an assurance that basic standards for safety and effectiveness have been satisfied.

The Prism LX will collect alarm signals from many different fire alarm control panels (FACP)

If you're looking for a reliable and UL-listed fire alarm monitoring solution, the Prism LX is a great option to consider. It's a central server that can collect alarm signals from many different fire alarm control panels (FACP) and notify the appropriate people via text, email, or phone call.

Give me a call to discuss your fire alarm monitoring

If you're looking for more information on fire alarm monitoring, please give me a call at 1-800-523-7232 or email me at I would be happy to answer any of your questions.

Until we meet again, safe monitoring!

Andrew Erickson

Andrew Erickson

Andrew Erickson is an Application Engineer at DPS Telecom, a manufacturer of semi-custom remote alarm monitoring systems based in Fresno, California. Andrew brings more than 17 years of experience building site monitoring solutions, developing intuitive user interfaces and documentation, and...Read More