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A good early fire warning system, properly selected, correctly installed, and regularly tested, can do much to limit loss of life and property. Heat detectors have the lowest false alarm rate of all fire detection devices, but they are the slowest and therefore may not be the primary source of warning. Most fire-related deaths are caused by inhalation of smoke and poisonous gases rather than by burn injury.

The U.S. Fire Administration estimates that use of smoke detectors and other fire alarms can reduce the loss of life from home fires by over 40 percent. Before you purchase smoke or heat detectors or fire alarms of any kind, check with the local fire marshall's office for their advice. You may be able to get the protection you need for less money than you think.

Burglaries occur five times more often during the day than after dark. No such thing as a completely burglar-proof alarm system exists, regardless of what an enthusiastic salesperson tells you. No national standards specify required levels of performance and the best protective device cannot compensate for a lack of basic common sense. Contact the local police department for a free inspection of your premises. If you feel the need for additional security, you can hire a company to install an alarm system or do it yourself.

Follow these tips when shopping for either fire or burglar alarm systems:

** Find out about local building codes and regulations regarding such systems;
** Know your options, consider the advantages and disadvantages;
** Deal only with reputable firms, including the monitoring company;
** Don't be pressured into buying more than you really need or into buying immediately;
** Look for systems which bear the UL seal;
** Get bids from several companies and be sure they include all costs;
** Check with your insurance company to find out the requirements for receiving possible discounts on premium rates;
** Study the contract carefully and make sure it includes all promises, service obligations and a warranty;
** Check the system routinely to be sure it is in working order.

It is the BBB's understanding that if a company 'services' fire equipment, they must be licensed by the State.

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