Frequently Asked Questions2024-07-12T12:10:46+01:00

Frequently Asked Questions

We understand navigating the world of fire and security systems can feel overwhelming at times. Whether you’re considering a fire alarm, intruder alarm, CCTV, fire extinguishers, or an access control system, the technical details and number of options available can seem daunting.

That’s why we’ve created this comprehensive FAQ section. Our goal is to provide you with clear, straight-forward answers to your most pressing questions. We’ve compiled this information based on enquiries we frequently receive from both new and existing customers. If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re here to guide you through every step of securing your property and ensuring your peace of mind.

If I get a security system installed, will I own it?2024-07-11T15:33:54+01:00

Yes, the system and all related equipment will belong to you, and the cost of it is factored in to the initial quote we supply you. Your system will be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty – usually 12 months, although some will differ – but we do also offer preventative servicing and maintenance plans to ensure your security system is functioning fully and offering you maximum protection.

We already have an alarm system installed but we aren’t happy with our current providers. Can we switch to you?2024-07-11T16:00:16+01:00

Of course, CIA regularly take over existing systems from other security companies. We will send one of our professional surveyors out to your property where they will inspect your system to ensure it is still fully compliant with British Standards. This will then be followed up with recommendations and a visit from one of our engineers, who will complete the system takeover.

What are your office opening hours?2024-07-11T11:40:07+01:00

Our offices are open from 8am to 5pm on Monday-Friday (except Bank Holidays). However, our out-of-hours emergency phoneline is always active outside of the office opening hours and we always have engineers on-call.

How do I know what type of fire alarm system I need?2024-07-11T11:39:27+01:00

There are 3 types of fire alarm system:

  • Conventional – Suitable for smaller, low-risk properties, conventional alarms divide your property into ‘zones’. Once a fire is detected, the alarm will identify which zone it is in but not the exact location within that zone.
  • Addressable – These are more sophisticated systems that feature a number detection devices, each with an individual electronic address, that can pinpoint exactly where the fire is rather than just the general area. These are suited for larger premises such as hospitals, office blocks or schools.
  • Wireless – Wireless systems work in much the same way as addressable systems, but use a wireless link between the sensors and alarm panel. Older buildings where cabling may not be appropriate will benefit from wireless alarm systems.

Our fully trained professionals will visit your property to complete a free-of-charge, no obligation site survey, ensuring your fire alarm system suits your individual needs and requirements.

What is the difference between a mains or battery-powered smoke/heat detector, and a fire alarm system?2024-07-12T09:04:18+01:00

Mains or battery-powered smoke and heat detectors are sensor-based devices placed within a property to detect smoke or heat. Once detected, a loud audible alarm is emitted from the device.

Fire alarm systems, on the other hand, are the complete package when it comes to fire safety. While they include both smoke and heat detectors, fire alarm systems have the added capability of alerting people across an entire premises via an alarm and/or flashing warning lights, triggering sprinkler systems and emergency lighting, and can be monitored by alarm receiving centres (ARCs).

What are the benefits of having a monitored alarm system?2024-07-12T10:10:32+01:00

Alarm activations can happen at any time – day or night, rain or shine – meaning you might not always be at, or even able to attend, your property.

A monitored alarm will send a signal to the alarm receiving centre (ARC), who will then contact your nominated keyholders and, depending on your local emergency service’s policy, call the fire brigade or police to attend. You can enjoy total peace of mind knowing a monitored alarm provides 24 hour protection for your property.

What accreditations do you have?2024-07-11T11:45:03+01:00

We are certified by ISO 9001:2015, SafeContractor and The National Security Inspectorate (NSI Gold Scheme), as well as registered to BAFE (British Approvals for Fire Equipment) schemes BAFE SP101 and BAFE SP203-1.

How often should I test my smoke alarms?2024-07-15T12:09:34+01:00

You should test all smoke alarms in your premises weekly, by pressing the test button until the alarm sounds. If it doesn’t sound, you should check the battery or replace the alarm.

It is also important to keep them clean by removing any dust or fluff from around the alarm every six months, as well as changing the batteries every twelve months. Smoke alarms should be fully replaced every ten years – even if they appear to still be in working order.

What fire extinguisher do I need for my property?2024-07-12T09:08:41+01:00

There are 5 main types of fire extinguishers available, each serving a different purpose:

These can be identified by their red labels. They work by simply spraying a water with additive from the nozzle, extinguishing the fire by cooling the burning materials. These are the most common fire extinguishers and the least hazardous, as they contain no harmful chemicals. Due to their contents, they should be used for solely Class A fires.

These extinguishers, displaying a cream label, work by smothering the fire with a layer of foam, starving it of oxygen. The foam extinguisher covers a Class A and B type of fire. They are highly effective on a contained flammable liquid fire.

Powder extinguishers feature a blue label, and form a crust which like the foam smothers the fire and starves it of oxygen. However, due to the potential risks to health if inhaled, powder extinguishers must not be used in confined spaces or well-populated areas such as offices or residential premises. Powders come as 2 different classifications – ABC and D, the ABC can be used on Class A, B and C fires however the Class D is specialist.

A black label signifies a CO2 extinguisher, which contains only pressurised carbon dioxide. They leave little residue and do not damage electrical items or computer equipment, meaning they are a practical solution for offices or hospitals. CO2 extinguishers have a Class B fire rating and are most effective on electricals.

Wet Chemical
These extinguishers display a yellow label, and are often found in kitchens where the risk of burning fats or oil is high. The chemical referred to in the name is a salt solution which, when sprayed, forms a fine mist and cools the fire while preventing any splashes. These extinguishers also come with a longer hose with a ‘lance’ attachment.

If you have any questions or concerns about fire extinguishers, or classifications of fires, contact us today and we’d be happy to talk you through them.

What is a keyholder?2024-07-11T12:29:34+01:00

A keyholder can be a trusted person that you nominate, who is willing to assist in the event of an alarm event. They would keep a key to your property, and need to be familiar with both the premises and the alarm system. Alternatively, you can use a professional keyholding service whereby a third-party security company holds the keys to your property.

Should you be unavailable, your chosen keyholder is who the alarm receiving centre (ARC) would call to help secure your property.

What is a monitored alarm system?2024-07-11T12:12:14+01:00

Monitored alarm systems are actively monitored, 24/7, by an alarm receiving centre (ARC). The staff at these centres will respond immediately when an alarm is triggered.

Can I install my CCTV myself?2024-07-11T11:59:21+01:00

Installing CCTV cameras yourself may seem like a good way to save money, but it can cause problems and cost you even more in the long run. A reputable, NSI-approved CCTV installer will install your system to the highest standard, ensure the cameras are correctly positioned, whilst also making sure all regulations and guidelines are adhered to.

How often should my alarm system be serviced?2024-07-11T12:06:50+01:00

For intruder alarms, annual servicing is recommended when they are bells only. However, monitored intruder alarm systems should be serviced every six months. The servicing must be carried out by a qualified professional that is verified by a third party body, such as the National Security Inspectorate (NSI).

Fire alarms should have the full system tested annually, with a minimum of two service visits over the course of the year.

Do I need to service my CCTV system as well?2024-07-11T12:08:29+01:00

Yes. Like all fire and security equipment, regular maintenance is essential to ensure your CCTV system is operating properly. Outdoor cameras can develop faults when exposed to the elements, and even indoor cameras can be damaged, knocked, or fall into disrepair. A regular service plan will maintain the effectiveness of your CCTV and ensure any technical issues are identified and resolved before any negative impact.

Do fire extinguishers need to be serviced?2024-07-11T12:28:54+01:00

To comply with British standards, currently BS5306, fire extinguishers need to be serviced by a “competent person” annually and have a full discharge test either every 5 or 10 years, depending on the type of extinguisher.

Can I view my CCTV through my smartphone?2024-07-11T12:49:14+01:00

Most modern CCTV systems offer the ability to remotely view CCTV footage from anywhere in the world, as long as you have an internet connection.

Is a wired or wireless intruder alarm system best?2024-07-12T09:11:41+01:00

There is no universal answer to this, as it all depends on your property and circumstances. Here are some things to consider when choosing which system to get:

  • While wireless systems usually cost more to buy, they are much quicker to install which will reduce the installation cost. Wireless systems will also incur higher running costs as the batteries in the control panel and devices will need to be replaced periodically.
  • Wireless systems cause less aesthetic disruption to properties, as no cables or trunking are required.
  • It is usually easier to expand wireless systems by adding on additional devices. It can be far more complicated with wired systems.
  • It is much easier to take a wireless system with you if you move. While it is possible to disconnect a wired system and re-cable it at the new property, it would be time-consuming and costly.
  • Wired systems generally tend to last longer than wireless.


Is access control purely for businesses?2024-07-11T13:24:55+01:00

No, many homeowners chose to utilise access control systems as well. Whether it’s an intercom system fitted to your gates, a video entry system at your door, or a remote control system for your garage, there are numerous ways access control can help secure your property.

What sort of access control system is best for my business?2024-07-11T13:31:40+01:00

When selecting an access control system for your business, consider the following factors:

  • Size and layout of your property
  • Number of access points and restricted areas
  • Level of security required
  • Integration with existing security systems
  • Scalability for future growth

One of our professional surveyors can visit your premises and conduct a free, no-obligation site survey to help you determine the best solution for your specific needs.

Does having an access control system mean we will need to use ID cards?2024-07-11T13:37:45+01:00

While ID cards are an option, there are other ways to authorise access to your property:

  1. Biometric Readers: These systems use unique physical characteristics, such as fingerprints, iris scans, or facial recognition, to verify identities.
  2. PIN Codes: Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) are commonly used in combination with ID cards or other authentication methods for added security.
  3. Mobile Credentials: Eliminating the need for physical credentials, employees can use their smartphones for convenience and efficiency.
  4. Keyfobs: A convenient and cost-effective alternative to ID cards that can be attached directly to a keyring or lanyard.

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