American Alarms Blog

Fire Alarm in Building Wasn't Working When Firefighters Arrived

by Adam Jacobs 3/20/2019

I just read a story of a fire in a Denton, TX apartment building.  The residents were evacuated in the middle of the night, taking what few belongings they could carry.  The firefighters were still cutting into walls to make sure the fire was completely out.  The apartment management company did not do much to help the residents, but local schools and the Red Cross help many families.  The thing that really stuck out, though, was they mentioned the building has a fire alarm system.  It didn't alarm.  It had been (supposedly) inspected, tested, and tagged less than a year earlier.  So what happened?  Did the fire alarm contractor actually do a functional test of all the devices?  Or did they just do a "drive-by" inspection and stick a tag on the panel?  Now the residents and the building owner are in a big predicament.

Are you just paying for a tag so you don't get harassed by the city, or is your system REALLY tested every year?

Does your insurance company pay for fire damage when the fire alarm doesn't work the way it should?

Is it worth saving a few bucks on the inspections each year to put lives in danger and risk a denied insurance claim?


Make sure your alarm contractor does a full functional test of your system.  Watch them do it some time.  

Or you can call us.  We will never skimp on safety.


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What does it mean to have your alarms monitored?

by Adam Jacobs 3/18/2019

There are literally hundreds of central stations that receive alarm signals in our country.  So what sets them apart?  How do you know yours has what it takes when it really matters?  The Monitoring Association (TMA) is the oldest and most reputable gauge of central station overall performance and customer satisfaction in the industry.

How many times has your central station won TMA's Central Station of the Year?  Ours won last year.

Does your central station have multiple locations hundreds of miles apart, so that weather cannot affect BOTH stations at once?  Ours does.

Does your central station have dual backup servers, generators, and an emergency recovery plan?  Ours does.

If you have fire alarms, does your central station truly understand the difference between fire and burglar alarms?  Many don't, but ours does.

Do you wait for 10, 15, 20 minutes or more just to talk with an operator?  You'll never wait more than a minute or two when calling ours.

Does your station have customer web applications and smart phone apps if that's what you choose?  Ours does.

Do you have the option to NOT get awakened in the middle of the night for trouble and supervisory signals?  Ours does.


We spent over a year to figure out exactly what we would want in a central station.  We are confident that our central station does the best job of any in the industry.

Come experience what REAL customer service and professional alarm monitoring feels like!


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Preparing your low-voltage systems for winter

by Adam Jacobs 12/7/2017

Here are some tips to prepare for winter months regarding fire alarm, intrusion alarms, security cameras, and other low-voltage systems.

- Make sure camera lenses stay clear on any outside cameras.  Icicles, frost, and snow can block your views and can also prevent varifocal lenses and PTZ type cameras from moving.

- Motion detectors can sometimes be activated by heavy snowfall.  Be aware of their position and use masking screen if needed to limit the sensing area.

- Fire alarm pull stations in apartment breezeways are prone to false alarm when it gets this cold.  Ice on top, condensation from behind, and freeze/refreeze can cause false alarms on these devices (especially addressable type).

- Many people think that batteries get weaker in the cold weather, but most battery types do fine in the cold.  Batteries get most of their abuse from excess heat in the Summer.  Watch batteries closely if they older or in a warm room.  If they bulge or leak, replace them immediately, as they can explode.


Here is a link to lots more winter tips:


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Lightning and Fire Alarm Systems

by Adam Jacobs 6/26/2014

Thunderstorms, like we had today in central Iowa, wreak havoc on fire alarm systems and other electronics.  What makes fire alarm systems more susceptible than other electronics?  The biggest reason is that it has a HUGE antenna - the Initiating and Notification circuit cables - that attract lightning.  Sometimes these two types of circuits can be over 1000 feet of cable in larger buildings.  The weakest point on the system is the circuit boards in the control panel.  So when a surge is introduced into the system, it can even JUMP right through the circuit board and pop components off when it exits.  Thanks to our great technicians - Mark, Dan, Eric, and David - for handling the slew of service requests that came in today from the storms.  If you have questions about surge protection for your system, one of our partners Ditek has answers.  Below is a link to their Total Surge Solutions website, with lots of great info.  If you need pricing on a solution for your needs, just give us a call.



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