You’ve Been Notified of an Alarm. What Should You Do Next?



When the Monitoring Center agent calls, do you know what to do next?

Imagine you’re a couple hours into a good night’s sleep. The phone rings and it’s a friendly JMG operator notifying you of a signal received from your security or fire alarm system. Or maybe you’ve received an e-mail notification about your system. Great, you may be thinking.  What do you do now? A few scenarios may be easy to determine the best course of action such as a door alarm followed by several motion detector alarms. Most people in this case would request to dispatch the police and/or security guard. If you have a CCTV system setup with remote viewing capabilities, now would be a good time to check the cameras. Or maybe you’re being notified of a water flow signal, which − by the time you’ve received the notification − the fire department has already been dispatched. There are several other types of notifications that are not as clear as to the cause, or solution, of the problem. A few examples of these are Supervisory, Trouble, Bypass, Communication Trouble/Failure, Failed Timer Test and A/C Power Loss.

Every system is different and may have unique devices and dispatch protocols depending on the type of system (burglar alarm/fire alarm) and what the fire department requires in your particular city. Following is a brief, general explanation of the above notifications.

  • Supervisory: An alarm condition of a non-dispatch fire alarm zone. Fire sprinkler water shut-off valves (i.e., PIVs, OS&Ys) and duct smoke detectors are an example of supervisory devices. If someone closes or shuts off the water to your fire sprinkler system, the system will send a supervisory signal and we will notify you. In some cases, we have found that someone has closed the valve because they are working on the sprinkler system and forgot to put it on test. We have also experienced supervisory alarms from landscapers hitting the devices and also from kids turning the valves for fun. There is a worst-case scenario here: If someone wants to burn the building down, they can turn off the water to the fire sprinklers. Unfortunately, we have no way of knowing for certain what the cause may be. We do have on-call technicians that can assist in looking at the different signals received to help determine the status of your system. The on-call technicians can also respond to the location to investigate and troubleshoot it for you.
  • Trouble: A trouble signal means the system needs service. It could be a result of a wire or device being cut or damaged.
  • Bypass: Bypass means that whoever armed your system was given a message of an open point on the system. They chose to bypass that point and arm the rest of the system. JMG can provide more detailed information about which user code was used to bypass the point.
  • Communication Trouble/Failure: This alerts indicates a problem with the communication from your alarm panel to our monitoring center. This could be a result of a cut or non-working phone line or a problem with the cellular signal at the site. Keep in mind we have seen burglars cut phone lines when attempting to break into facilities. This would be another good time to check your cameras. Secondary forms of communication are critical to backing up your primary communication. In addition to analog phone lines and cellular communication, many of our clients use their network to communicate with our monitoring center.
  • Failed Timer Test: This red flag means that your system failed its communication test to the monitoring center. This could be a result of failed phone lines, cellular or network communication but could also be caused by a failed component of the system. We recommend having someone take a look at your facility to be aware of any intentional sabotage or attempt to bypass the system.
  • A/C Power Loss: The system has lost power. Power may be out to the building or the breaker controlling the system may need to be turned on.

In summary, there are multiple types of notifications you may receive and the cause for each one is not always clear. Please call our service department to get more information and to schedule a technician to look into the notification(s) you have received. If you’d like clarification around specific notifications you have received, you can also forward them to You can also call the monitoring center 24/7 to find out if a particular problem has restored. When you call the monitoring center, you can request to speak with a technician or request emergency service if needed. JMG’s monitoring center’s phone number is 866-459-0009. We are here for you when you need us. Please remember to be safe, stay vigilant and be sure to test your systems! Our service is your security so please let us know how we can help.