by Chief Pam San Fillippo
- This month, the chief explains how a monitored fire alarm system can save your home - and your peace of mind.
It doesn’t matter if it started because of a malfunctioning appliance or a bath towel left on top of a curling iron. The tragedy that only happens to someone else just happened to you, and no one will know about it until a neighbor sees flames coming from your house. Unfortunately, the firefighters will find Fido much too late, in the spot where he went to hide under a bed or in a closet. A tragic story that firefighters see all too often, but I assure you there are far worse scenarios.
What went wrong?
You had a dozen smoke detectors in your home, and the firefighters told you that they all activated like they’re supposed to - but no one was home to hear them and call 911. You can give Fido and your loved ones a better chance of surviving- with a monitored alarm system.
These systems work automatically. When a smoke detector is activated it notifies emergency dispatch - no one has to be at home to hear it, and anyone who is at home and unable to take action on their own doesn’t have to do a thing - and many services will even send an alert to your cell phone. When properly installed and monitored these systems are quite reliable. Yes, there’s a cost involved, but please read on. You might find that this important protection won’t cost you much, if anything, extra!
Many of us are willing to pay a lot of money every month for cell phones, data plans, internet service and premium TV channels - none of which are likely to save our life, property, pets or our loved ones. Installation of a monitored system can be very affordable, and the monitoring fees are typically around $30 - $50/month...but many insurance companies offer a 10% - 20% discount on your homeowner’s insurance. I personally pay a $50/month monitoring fee and receive a 10% discount on my homeowner’s, so I break even on the cost.
Easy to Operate
If you can operate a telephone you are over-qualified to operate an alarm system. When properly installed they are reliable and simple to use.
I hope I’ve made a case for the importance of monitored alarm systems and I really hope you’ll consider getting one. Do your own research, definitely shop around and always go with a reputable company.
Editor's Note: In 2003, my home and gallery on Main Street in BSL caught fire. The cause was probably a faulty hot water heater. I was working late in the historic building when my monitored alarm system went off.
Since I didn't smell any smoke or see any flames, I walked outside with my phone and pups to check on the back wing. Nothing there either. On the way back to the front, I heard the Bay St. Louis Fire Department responding, and saw their truck tearing down Main Street, lights flashing.
Sure that I was going to have to apologize to them for the false alarm, I walked back into the front part of the building, where I had been just minutes before. Flames were shooting out of a closet and wall and the building was filling with smoke!
I ran back outside shouting and the firemen leaped to work. They put out the fire in short order and only a wall in one room sustained major damage. Despite the excitement, our firemen took such care to save the artwork in the gallery. The damage would have been much more extreme without their attentive actions.
Point is: from the time the alarm went off until the firemen arrived and began to extinguish the fire was probably only five minutes.
If another four or five minutes had passed before I noticed the fire and placed the call and then another few minutes passed before the Fire Department had arrived, I have no doubt much of the building would have been lost. Even though I was actually present, the saved minutes made a huge difference.
I'll never own a home without a monitored alarm system again. And thanks again, Bay St. Louis Fire Department - I'll always be grateful!