SP&T News

Saving lives a perk of the job

ImageI have been in the alarm and security business for more than 25 years. Recently an event occurred that validated every single second of hard work in all those years.

May 6, 2008  By Ivan Spector

Our monitoring station received a signal in the evening from a client’s
home indicating that a carbon monoxide detector was in an alarm
condition. Once in communication with the client, the fire department
was requested to attend on site and the family evacuated to wait
outside the home. When the fire department arrived and measured the air
quality in the home, they immediately put on their oxygen masks and
made their way to the furnace room. They shut down the heat and hot
water which is natural gas based, and opened the windows and aired out
the home. They spoke to the homeowner and told him how fortunate he was
to have a carbon monoxide detector and that it was connected. Without
the carbon monoxide detector they would surely have died that night. It
was explained to him the next day by the company performing an
inspection on his HVAC system how on that particular evening he had a
“perfect storm” scenario: snow piled high along the side of his home
blocking his exhaust, loose pipes and loose seams in the duct work, and
a heating system that was faulty.

I met with our client and his family  — two young children and the
parents, a few days later. Upon arrival he hugged me, and told me the
story with tears in his eyes. I must admit that I had an overwhelming
sense of emotion as I contemplated how close it came to losing lives
that evening. We did a walk through of the system and we agreed on some
improvements that we both wanted to improve the detection and went over
some other enhancements. Before I left I asked my client for the truth
— did he curse my company when that detector started to alert him to
the situation at hand? He admitted that was indeed the case until he
spoke to our monitoring station operator.

On contemplating the whole situation, it reinforced to me all the time,
effort and hard work that the real professionals put into this
profession. We battle on a daily basis “free” security systems, easy
entry (and exit) from this business where apparently recurring revenue
paves the streets with gold, poor service, poor training, sub-standard
installations and worse maintenance — all for less than what the
homeowner under most circumstances pays his gardener for flowers and
snow removal per month.

Until we get it together and act as professionals, and understand the
enormous responsibility that we undertake, then we are doomed to be
perceived as fly by night operators who are making a buck by
dispatching police who clean up the mess that we make on the taxpayers’
contribution. It is high time that we as an industry get it together
and act in a manner that reflects the awesome job that we do. We need
to celebrate our successes together and show the public, law
enforcement and government policy makers that we are an able and
willing partner in life and property safety.



Ivan Spector is president of Sentinel Alarm in Montreal, Que., national
past president of CANASA and a member of the Central Station Alarm
Association’s board of directors. 

Print this page


Stories continue below