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Day In The Life of an Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC)

Day In The Life of an Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC)

Alarm receiving centres (ARCs) are one of the most effective ways of protecting your commercial premises against the joint threats of fire and potential intruders. 

That’s because they generally operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and can keep an eye on your premises even when you’re closed for business. They also have a far better chance of getting help from the emergency services when it’s needed. 

But how do ARCs actually work? This article will examine the daily activities at an alarm receiving centre to discover why they’re such an effective tool in the fights against fire and crime.

Day in the life of an alarm receiving centre

What is an alarm receiving centre?

The first thing to do when finding out what goes on at an ARC is to understand its general purpose and role. Basically, when you have a fire or intruder alarm system, or a CCTV security system, you can engage the services of an ARC to monitor it on a permanent and round-the-clock basis.

That means that if an alarm or alert is raised, someone at the ARC will pick it up, investigate it and advise the emergency services if it is discovered to be genuine. They can also identify false alarms, allowing them to prevent a potential waste of valuable resources on the part of the police or fire brigade.

What does an ARC do?

Each ARC is likely to service many different clients, possibly spread right across the country, which means that they need to be connected to each individual client’s alarm system(s). This is what the likely sequence of events will be when an ARC’s operatives are called into action:

  • An alarm is triggered at the premises of one of the ARC’s clients.
  • The ARC receives notification of the alert and an operative immediately investigates.
  • If the client’s premises are open and there are staff on site, the ARC operative will first attempt to contact the site to confirm whether the alarm is legitimate. This can not only prevent wasted time on the part of the emergency services, but also make sure the client is not adversely affected by closing down unnecessarily to deal with a non-existent emergency.
  • If the alarm is raised out of hours, the operative will first check any CCTV or audio data to try and verify if the alarm is genuine or not. If there are no indications that it might be a false alarm, then it’s time to raise the issue to the next level.

This is the point at which the skill and training of an ARC operative really kicks in, because they are dealing with a live situation and have to make an instant decision as to the best way to proceed. They generally have three main options:

  • If an intruder has been positively verified, it may be possible for the ARC operative to make a verbal challenge, advising the intruder that their presence has been detected and that the police will be alerted if they do not immediately leave.
  • If the immediate risk is assessed as being low, the operative might decide to contact the client’s nominated keyholder, so that they can attend their premises and make good any outstanding issues.
  • If there is an immediate and ongoing threat to the safety of the client’s premises and/or property, the operative will take the decision to alert the relevant emergency service, usually the police or fire brigade.

It’s worth remembering at this point that many standard alarms will not get an immediate response from the emergency services, even if reported by a member of the public – this is because of the high number of false alarms they have to manage with limited resources. However, when an alarm is raised by an ARC, the police or fire brigade will know that the alarm is more than likely genuine and will respond as soon as they are able.

It should be clear from the above that people working in an alarm receiving centre need a broad range of skills to do their job effectively, principally:

  • The ability to stay calm and make decisions under pressure
  • High levels of concentration to be able to deal with an emergency situation at any moment
  • Good communication skills to effectively transmit key information

Here at Scutum London, we offer reliable and effective alarm monitoring services for customers making use of our fire alarm and security system services. 

Get in touch with our team now to discover more about how an alarm monitoring service can help protect your business premises. We work with customers based in and around London, Surrey and the rest of the South East. 

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About Scutum London

Scutum London is a leading expert in fire safety and security solutions for businesses and organisations located across South East England, including London and Surrey.

From fire alarms, fire extinguishers and fire risk assessments to access control, CCTV and intruder alarm systems – and a lot more besides – we offer a comprehensive range of products and services designed to keep you, your business and your staff and visitors safe.

With decades of industry experience to call on, we’re proud to hold accreditations from leading trade associations and bodies such as British Approvals for Fire Equipment (BAFE), the British Fire Consortium, the Fire Industry Association (FIA) and Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board (SSAIB).

If you’d like to find out more about Scutum London, get in touch with our friendly team or explore our products and services on our site.


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