Guidance on the Choice and Management of Security Alarm Key Holders


The task of choosing and managing security alarm key holders should not be taken lightly.

At worst a poor choice or management system could result in an employee sustaining serious injuries. Also the wrong choice of key holder or failure to plan a response to a break in could result in your insurance policy paying out.

Key holders should:

  • Be willing and able to undertake the task responsibly
  • Be adequate in number (ideally four should be appointed) many insurers require at least 2
  • Be chosen for their proximity to the premises, ideally within a maximum travel as dictated by the terms of any applicable police policy or local regulation (the ACPO recommend 20 minutes travelling time, this is at ANY time of day, and this is adopted by most UK police authorities)
  • Be able to access ALL parts of the alarmed premises
  • Be appropriately trained in all of the processes and procedures for:

· Opening and closing the premises

· Setting and unsetting the security system

· Aborting false alarm calls

· Using any codes necessary for the system and for communicating with the ARC

Possess/be provided with mobile telephones to allow them to contact

· Other key holders

· The alarm receiving centre (ARC)

· The alarm company

· Other senior personnel, e.g., to authorise repairs

· The police station local to the premises

· Emergency tradesmen, such as glaziers and builders

Telephone numbers for each of the above should be programmed into the memories of key holders mobile telephones.

Within the alarm system owners/operator’s processes and procedures there must also be provision for key holder absences, for example due to sickness and holidays.

The above is guidance from The Security Commission of the Confederation of Fire Protection Association Europe, and represents good practice.

On a general basis I would add insurers/brokers claims contact number to the list of stored numbers.

Ensure your HR department knows who the key holders are so they can advise any changes that may be needed due to change of contact number, address (the key holder may no longer be eligible), change in physical ability to attend or change in employment.

Also I would add the caveat that both the land line and the mobile number for each key holder should be provided to the ARC.

Your response procedures should be clearly identified in your Disaster Recovery plan and your key holders should be made fully aware of what is required by both your procedures and your insurance policies.

Finally it is essential that a Risk Assessment is done in respect of attending alarm calls, in particular consideration should be given to the possibility of attending the premises with little likelihood of Police attendance.  If possible a “buddy” system is ideal, to ensure that no single individual will be attending an alarm call out.

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