Resolving False Fire-Burglar Alarm Issues In National Retail Stores
What you should know.
By Nick Markowitz Jr.
There’s that new dollar store which opened up last year and you have just been called by the community’s fire department there to check out a fire alarm signal which proves to be false. A pull station has been smacked into by a stocking cart and broken and needs replaced. You talk to the store manager who puts in a request to their district office to get a tech on site ASAP. That afternoon or next morning a tech shows up and replaces the station and resets the system. Well that’s at least how it is suppose to work.
The realty is more like this. 3 to 7 days later or longer a tech finally shows up, while the system kept false alarming or had to be kept on hold. So what’s going on? Is the store manager being a jerk or upper management or the company coming to fix the system being lax? Most times it goes back to how a work order is handled as it goes up the food chain to be completed. The store manager calls and notifies their district manager who is then to notify either the regional or corporate office of the problem. Typically it is the Loss Prevention Dept who then gets the request and contacts the national accounts alarm company who arranges to get a contractor on site. Now, no one alarm company can have a technician in every city. So what they do is contract smaller alarm companies to do their service and installation work for them when it is out of the area they normally handle. Again a work order is issued and a dispatcher prioritizes the order and gets a technician on site as soon as possible. The technician repairs the problem, gets it signed off by store manager, and is on his way problem solved. This is how it works most times, but if there is still problems the whole process needs repeated.
So how do you get a retailers attention? Ask for the district manager’s office number. If that does not work, get out your citation book and start writing. Every time a false costs $500.00 you will get their attention sooner or later. Worse case scenario shut them down if a hazard exists. When there pocket gets hit they usually pay attention. No fire jurisdiction should ever have to get that drastic but this is sometimes what is needed. Most retailers try to be good neighbors and get a tech on site ASAP while others can care less.
With as bad as the economy has gotten, you can believe maintenance and security are two areas seeing cut back in stores. They are not seen as profit making centers within the business. Unfortunately though, most bean counters never take into fact that security and maintenance make sure profits come in the door and should be a first priority. I recently talked with a store manager around Christmas who needed their cash register check out monitors repaired to be able to make sales flow better. After all, you want to keep customers happy with fast service and instead of getting a new monitor they let them all go bad. On top of this they cut staff hours as well, at what is normally their biggest sales time of the year. The result is long lines due to one register open instead of 4 and mad consumers and profit fall.
Sometimes you just have to wonder who has control of the switch at these stores. It is no wonder we are seeing so many fold up due to strings of bad decisions which ultimately effect first responders. This includes all the garbage, shut off sprinklers, unrepaired and inoperable fire alarms etc, and other hazards they leave behind when they go out of business.