Security systems

A security system discourages would-be intruders. The most effective system combines burglar alarms, CCTV and patrols.

Some important advantages of an alarm system are that it:

  • discourages people from entering the school without permission, especially if you have clearly visible external and internal sirens and detectors, along with warning stickers on windows and doors and signs at each entry to the school
  • alerts staff, neighbours and passers-by that someone has entered the school without permission
  • can scare off intruders before they do significant damage or steal anything
  • alerts security guards if it is a monitored alarm system.

Getting advice and information before choosing your security system

When buying a security system, consider your options in terms of both:

  • proven performance
  • price.

Be wary of cheap systems, new companies and new brands. Before making your decision:

  • ask other schools that already use the product you are considering for their views on the product, and the company and its after-sales service
  • view a working system.

Standard specification for your security system

You must use the Ministry’s standard specification for security alarms [DOC, 357 KB] for the supply and installation of a security system at your school. The specification includes:

  • the contract conditions to engage your security contractor – you may need to update these using the current Government Model Contract Services (external link)
  • a tender response
  • a schedule of material
  • commissioning inspection check sheets
  • the technical specifications for alarm systems
  • ‘site specific information’ that you can use to identify the best option for your school.

Using the specification will ensure the system you choose:

  • is of good quality
  • meets national performance standards
  • is reliable
  • is compatible with new and existing fire alarm systems
  • can be expanded as your school grows.

You must use a qualified security consultant to manage the installation of your security system following the specification. Give them the full standard specification document. If you have trouble understanding the standard specification document, ask the security consultant to explain it to you.

The security consultant develops the site-specific information to meet the particular needs of your project.

Off-site monitoring of your electronic security system

You will need to plan your alarm response strategy before buying your electronic security system.

By having an off-site monitoring and alarm response contract, you make the best use of your investment in an alarm system. If the alarm is triggered, a security guard will respond swiftly.

The alternative is to have a staff member respond if an alarm is activated. However, this approach could:

  • put the staff member at risk, whereas a security guard is trained to handle the situation
  • slow down the response to the alarm – thieves soon notice if there is no response or a slow response each time an alarm is activated.

The fire alarm is now the lead system over the security system

Under the Ministry’s Fire Safety Design Requirements, the fire alarm must be the lead system where it is combined with the security system. The fire alarm can activate the security system but not vice versa.

Tendering for a security system

When you tender for a security system, ask for:

  • a comprehensive, programmed maintenance contract
  • full ‘as-built’ records, which should be held on-site and available to the contractor when they visit, including drawings of the installation
  • a maintenance log book so the contractor can log and detail maintenance, call-outs, system changes or alterations – this includes updating drawings, where applicable.

Note: In their tender responses, consultants must confirm that they have read and understood the standard specification.

Commissioning inspection of your security system

Once your security system is installed, your security consultant will arrange a ‘commissioning inspector’ to do a final inspection of a new security system. The inspector must be independent of the security consultant.

Your security consultant signs off the job, not the security system installer.

Maintaining your security system

Buy a comprehensive, programmed maintenance contract along with any new or upgraded electronic security alarm system.

Security systems need regular, programmed maintenance to perform well. When you have a maintenance contract:

  • the contractor remains responsible for the system
  • the contractor fine-tunes and manages the system’s performance over time
  • your security system is cost-effective – a preventative maintenance contract will pay for itself by saving the cost of your time and call-outs (including for false alarms).

The cost of maintaining the system will come from your Property Maintenance Grant (PMG).

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