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Crime prevention is
better than cure

Q: How do I choose the right security installer?

There is nothing more important than keeping your home and business safe and secure - so picking the firm who will do this is one of the most important decisions you'll ever make. We've put together 10 top tips to help you decide:

- Don't be bullied by a pushy salesperson - some are just trying to meet targets. Tell them that you are not making a decision until you've had comparative quotes or time to think about it.

- If a company tries to frighten you with stories of burglars to scare you into buying an alarm - send them packing.They are often simply doing this just to get you to buy and aren't really concerned about your needs.

- Make sure the company is approved by SSAIB or NSI, as Shipman is. This will ensure a good standard of work and equipment, plus 24-hour emergency assistance as standard.

- Find out how long you are likely to wait if you need an engineer and whether you can book timed appointments. Some companies will allow you to be a ‘first call' - meaning the engineer's first call of the day, by appointment.

-Find out how much it will cost for the alarm to be reset if you set if off by mistake.

- If a deal is too good to be true, it usually is! If you are tied into 3 years (or 36 months as they like to call it) of monthly payments, you will probably end up paying considerably more.They often have an 'agreement cost' as well.

- Ask if maintenance and monitoring will be increased the following year? You can also be cheeky and ask if you can have the first year free - it's not out of the question.

- Is the control panel back-up battery included in the maintenance fee - and would it need replacing?

- How long is the cancellation period? Most reputable companies will allow you to cancel after the first year, providing you are not on a pay monthly scheme. Check how long the scheme is for and how early you will need to give notice - like some gyms, some companies might want 3 months or more in advance!

- Is any part of the system rented? You could discover you don't own any of the system and if you stop paying for maintenance the system may be removed.

Q: Business: Do we need Emergency Lighting?

The simple answer is yes.

Emergency Lighting is the key safety system required to enable people to exit a building safely in the event of a power cut. It can - and does - save lives.

It is also a legal requirement for companies and must meet Fire Safety legislation.

Emergency routes and exits must be indicated by signs. Those needing illumination must have emergency lighting good enough to see in the event of normal lights failing.

Emergency Lighting systems should be serviced every six months for self contained luminaries, plus a monthly flash test as stipulated by British Standards. If the latter is not happening, we would recommend the service intervals are every 3-months.

Q: Business: Should we have Access Control?

We would advise it, as it allows you to have total control over who can enter your building.

Buildings secured by locks and keys are usually left unlocked all day, opening up the possibilities of opportunist theft and malicious damage. Electronic Access Control provides the most efficient and convenient way of securing your building and assets.

Any door controlled by the system automatically locks when it is closed. Anyone without a PIN or access token is unable to enter.

Access control also offers you flexible control – e.g. all staff can gain access through the main door of a building, but internal areas may be restricted to those who you decide have a specific need to be there.

If an employee leaves or loses their entry fob, this can be easily deleted from your system with minimum disruption. Compare this with the hassle created by lost keys and locks having to be changed, and you will see access control is the ideal solution for your business. You can also use the information recorded by the computer to manage staf!

Q: Which type of Access Control is best for us?

There are two main types of Access Control system that we recommend:

Standalone access control
This is used to control access on one or many doors in a building. Access is gained by using either a numeric code, a PIN with a keypad or swipe card/fob.Systems are programmed at each door, so if access needs to be barred or codes changed, then this must be completed at every door on the system. We find this system is most popular with small business premises, sports clubs and storage units.

PC based access control
This is used to control one or many independent doors in a building. Access is gained by using either a numeric code, a PIN with a keypad, or by a swipe card/fob. PC based access control means that commands given are sent to each of the doors instantly. Another benefit is flexible control, allowing you to grant different permissions for individuals or groups of users. Reports may also be generated to see who went where, and when. We find this system is most popular with small / medium and large corporate businesses, multiple-site premises, Government buildings, school and car parks.

Q: Do I need a Fire Alarm installed?

Fire detection and alarm systems are designed to minimise the risk to life and limit damage to a building and its contents. They can be installed throughout the property or in certain areas determined by a fire risk assessment, local fire authority or insurers requirements.

If you want the Fire Brigade to attend your premises when your alarm is triggered, then your system has to be installed by a BAFE approved company – which Shipman is.

Your Fire Alarm system would be managed by a control panel, which is a requirement under the building code for the majority of new commercial construction in the UK. It receives information from the smoke and heat sensors that detect fire and triggers the alarms.  

Shipman Security offer complete design and installation, backed up by a full service and maintenance to help your system meet all legal requirements.

Q: What type of Fire Detector is best for me?

There are four main options an each is used in different circumstnaces. These are:

Ionisation – Very effective for detecting fast-flaming fire. We recommend them for landings and office spaces, areas which are prone to false alarms.

Rate of Rise – Uses a thermostat to sense a quick rise in temperature to a threshold of 57°C. They are therefore very good for kitchen areas or places where warmth can change but not too quickly - drying rooms and cupboards. Be warned that it might not respond to slow increases in temperature - they will often detect rapid temperature rises, such as when fires occur.

Optical – These alarms 'see' smoke. They have a quick response to visibly smoldering fires (e.g. from foam filled furniture and overheated PVC wiring). They are also particularly good in areas where you can otherwise expect false alarms, such as near kitchens. We recommend their use in living rooms, bedrooms and hallways.

Heat - These are used in rooms where smoke or mist is frequently part of the normal atmosphere, such as kitchens or garages. They should be interconnected with other smoke alarms on escape routes to give full protection.

Q: Are there Fire Alarms for the deaf?

We have smoke alarms that feature high-intensity strobe lights and vibration pads to wake a deaf or hard-of-hearing person during the night if there is a fire alarm.

We also offer portable deaf alarm systems as well as wired alarm systems.

Q: Do I need Fire Extinguishers?

Yes - this way small fires can be dealt with immediately and efficiently!

Fire extinguishers must be kept in suitable locations so that they are easily accessible at all times - such as near escape routes or doorways to the outside. If you're a company then you don't want staff more than 75m away from one - so they don't have to run to get one! We also suggest that if you're a domestic customer you don't hide them away under the sink or above the cooker - you're likely to forget that it's there!

Ideally they should be wall mounted so that the handle is at a convenient height (approximately 1 metre from the floor). In businesses, locations must be permanent so that they become familiar to staff - they are usually best situated as near to the door as possible, but away from any part of the room where the fire risk is greatest.

A notice indicating the location of fire fighting equipment should also be displayed. All fire fighting appliances should be serviced annually and the date of inspection noted on a label fixed to the appliance.

Between inspections you should routinely do a visual examination to identify any damage. Any that have been discharged must be recharged as soon as possible.

Q: What sort of Fire Extinguisher do I need?

This answer is a little more in-depth as it does depend on what might cause the fire and where it can occur:

Types of Extinguisher:
Water  – Class A. These are designed for tackling fires (such as wood, paper, straw, textiles, coal etc).

Foam – Class A and Class B. Aqueous Film Forming Foam - or AFFF - is ideal for liquid spill fires such as petrol, oil, fats and paints. It works by forming a film on the liquid to extinguish the fire. This extinguisher has also passed the electrical conductivity test at 35kv.

Powder – Class A, Class B, and Class C. Extremely versatile material perfectly suited for tackling electrical hazards, flammable liquids and gases.

Carbon dioxide – Class B. Suitable for risks involving flammable liquids and electrical hazards. CO2 is harmless to electrical equipment and is therefore ideal for offices.

Wet chemical - Class F. These are especially designed for tackling cooking oil / deep fat fryer (Class F) fires, but also have an effective capability for extinguishing Class A fires. This extinguisher has also passed the electrical conductivity test at 35kv.

The Class System:
Class A: These are fires involving flammable solids, e.g. wood, cloth, rubber, paper, and some types of plastics. An example of this type of fire would be a campsite fire.

Class B: These are fires involving flammable liquids or liquefiable solids, e.g. petrol, oil, paint and also some waxes & plastics, but not cooking fats or oils.

Class C: These are fires involving flammable gases, e.g. natural gas, hydrogen, propane, butane.

Class D: These are fires involving combustible metals, e.g. sodium, magnesium, and potassium.

Class E: These are fires involving any of the materials found in Class A and B fires, but including electrical appliances, wiring, or other electrically energized objects in the vicinity of the fire, with a resultant electrical shock risk if a conductive agent is used to control the fire.

Class F: These are fires involving cooking fats and oils. The high temperature of these types of fats and oil when on fire far exceeds that of other flammable liquids which means that normal fire extinguishers should not be used.

Q: What type of Alarm Signalling is best for me?

Digital Communicator - This will send a message to an Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) via a phone line when your alarm activates, and the ARC will contact the relevant key holders/security guards/emergency services. If the phone line is cut, then the Burglar Alarm will activate audibly. A Digital Communicator is the most cost effective way to have police response on your alarm system.

RedCARE Classic – Provides continuous monitoring of a telephone line that links the alarm system on your premises to an Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC). Unlike other alarm signalling services, RedCARE alerts the ARC when it detects a problem with the phone line that would prevent the alarm signal reaching the Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC).   

RedCARE GSM – A ‘dual path’ system. As well as the main telephone line on which RedCARE GSM operates there is also a back up link that uses the mobile phone network to communicate with the ARC. This gives you additional peace of mind; and if intruders enter your property, a signal will quickly be sent to the ARC and the emergency services alerted.

DualCom - An burglar alarm signalling device that uses both the Vodafone network and your telephone and/or Internet Provider path to transmit intruder, Fire and Personal Attack signals at high speed. DualCom fits every grade of security risk.
N.B. All these types of signalling will transmit, intruder(burglar), Panic Attack, and Fire.

Speech Dialler – (no Police response).  This uses your existing phone line to call pre-programmed phone numbers of your choice to inform you of an alarm.
N.B. Only a professionally installed alarm system by an approved company - and one that is maintained regularly - can receive Police response.

Confirmed Signalling explained:
All newly installed alarms connected to the Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) for Police response will have Confirmed Signalling. This means that the ARC will only inform the Police to attend after they have received a second sequential signal, meaning a second device (e.g PIR) has been triggered. This was introduced by the Police to prevent wasting Police time attending false alarms. Panic Alarm activations will receive immediate Police attendance without delay.

Q: How are the various Alarm Systems graded?

The grade of the system you need is selected according to several factors.  We recommend installing systems of Grade 3 and above for many properties - please give us a call you'll be able to speak to an adviser!

Grade 1 - Low risk of theft. The property is not likely to attract intruders. It is assumed that a thief is likely to be opportunistic rather than bothering to plan things in advance. This type of system is aimed at the DIY market - professional installers will not install to Grade 1.

Grade 2 - Slightly higher risk of theft. The property is likely to have something of interest to an experienced thief. The burglar is anticipated to have some knowledge of how an Alarm System works and possibly carry tools to allow them overcome a simple Alarm System. The thief is likely to check the building for ease of access through doors, windows and other openings.

Grade 3 - Substantial risk. There is good reason to assume this property may be broken into and might well contain objects of high value. An burglar is likely to gain access by penetrating doors, windows or other openings. The thief could be very experienced with burglar Alarm Systems and possess equipment to overcome them.

Grade 4 - Very high-risk properties. Burglars will plan a burglary in advance and have the knowledge and equipment to alter parts of the burglar alarm system to prevent detection. It is assumed that the burglar would be one of a team and could gain access by penetration of floors, walls and ceilings. 

Q: Will the Police respond when my alarm goes off?

Only professional SSAIB or NSI approved alarm installations under contract for regular maintenance visits may have a police response.

Police response to security system activation is on three levels:

LEVEL 1 – Priority. You will receive a Police response, but this is based on the assumption that an offence is taking place. There are penalties for false alarms and your system may be downgraded.

LEVEL 2 - Police attendance desirable, but will be dependent on resource availability

LEVEL 3 - No police response, key holder only (the Alarm Receiving Centre will on contact allocated key holders not the Police)

Q: What are the different parts of an Alarm System?

PIR (Passive Infrared) Movement Detector - This senses motion and is usually installed in the corner of a room at ceiling height near a window or door to provide maximum coverage.

Pet PIR or Pet Immune - As above, but does detect a pet up to 27 kg (60 lbs), allowing your cat or dog to roam the house without triggering the alarm system. 

Vibration Detector - Detects the vibrations of a window being forced open and triggers the alarm system.

Breakglass Detector - Detects the high frequency of glass breaking and triggers the alarm system.

Door/Window Magnetic Contact – Will trigger the alarm system if a door or window is opened while the alarm is set.

Key Fob – Allows you to set and unset the alarm system without having to remember a number. 

Remote – Works in the same way as a car remote, allowing you to set and unset the system from a distance. Some also have a Panic facility.

Internal sounder - Lets you know that the alarm is set or unset by a series of beeps. In the event of a break-in it will make a loud sound to scare and disorientate the burglar.

Outside sounder – Makes a loud sound to attract attention to your property. This will have an automatic cut off after to 20 minutes to comply with the Noise Pollution Act. The bell has the installer’s company name and logo on the front to show that it is a professionally installed alarm system.

Dummy Bell Box – Looks exactly like the real bell cover and is usually located on the back or side of the building to make observers know the building is alarmed.