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Intruder Alarm Grades Explained: Which Alarm Grade Is Right for You?

Intruder Alarm Grades Explained: Which Alarm Grade Is Right for You?
Intruder Alarm Grades Explained: Which Alarm Grade Is Right for You?

When you purchase an intruder alarm for any premise or property, you’ll see a grade designated to the alarm system. These intruder alarm grades are used to advise on the types of risk the alarm system is designed to protect against and help businesses and private consumers understand which alarms are most suitable for their building or site.

It is essential you opt for the intruder alarm grade that meets your risk profile or choose a higher grade if there is any potential for your security risks to change in the future. Not sure what your ‘risk profile’ is? Get in touch with Clearway for a security risk assessment here.

Many businesses also need to install an intruder alarm that complies with a minimum acceptable grade to comply with insurance requirements and protect their building, assets, inventory and workforce from risk.

fire alarm grades

Why Do UK Intruder Alarms Have Grades?

Alarm grading is part of an established quality standard introduced via the European standard EN 50131. The UK is, of course, no longer subject to EU standards and has a separate equivalent standard called PD 6662, which replicates the EU standards and is also known as BS EN 50131. The UK-specific standard is enforced by the British Security Industry Association (BSIA).

The concept is that all alarm systems conform to the same grading structure. Regardless of the system brand or provider who fits your security alarm, you have an easy way to compare the functionality of each system and make informed buying decisions.

Grading applies to all intruder alarms, including detection systems that identify movement, break-ins, unauthorised entry or hold-up alarms, which act as silent or panic alarms and transmit an emergency signal.

Understanding Intruder Alarm Grades

Alarms are categorised within a grading system from one to four based on the likelihood of the premise being the target of a criminal intrusion and the potential severity of any attempt to bypass security defences and gain entry.

  • Grade one alarms: are suited for properties where the site is unlikely to be the target of a criminal intrusion. This type of alarm may be used where the property isn’t considered of particular appeal or might only be exposed to opportunist break-in attempts, such as where a door or window has been left open.
  • Grade two alarms: are designed for premises at a higher risk or where there is a greater potential for the property to be targeted due to values, equipment or assets left on site, particularly when the premise isn’t protected or guarded outside of opening hours. These alarms safeguard against attacks by experienced criminals, including those with some knowledge of bypassing a simple alarm system.
  • Grade three alarms: are more robust and engineered for sites where there is a substantial risk of intrusion. That may be because of the location or nature of the site or the value of assets, inventory and equipment. This type of alarm is intended to guard against an assumption that the site will be broken into or targeted and is created to protect against criminal intrusion attempts where perpetrators may have tools and equipment to try and bypass alarm systems.
  • Grade four intruder alarms: are intended for sites with a very high assessed risk level. These alarms are designed to protect properties with a likelihood of an organised intrusion attempt. This type of alarm can be used to monitor every aspect of a building, including walls and ceilings alongside entry points.

In some situations, you may need intruder alarms with a comparable grade across your site. However, there is no obligation to install the same alarm grade throughout a property. You might, for example, have grade one alarms in some zones, grade two alarms for key buildings, and grade three alarms covering restricted-access areas.

alarm servicing control panel

Choosing an Intruder Alarm With an Appropriate Grade

While you may have a clear idea of the alarm system most appropriate for your property, we often recommend carrying out a full site risk assessment before you move forward. Security consultants may identify risks, concealed entry points or gaps in your security coverage that are not immediately apparent.

Grade One Intruder Alarms

Generally, a grade one intruder alarm is suited to a residential or domestic property with minimal break-in risks. Some buildings may be subject to more stringent requirements depending on the insurance provider or where there is a perceived elevated risk, such as in a multi-tenant property.

Grade Two Intruder Alarms

Grade two alarms are most commonly used within residential homes where the owner or landlord requires greater assurance. They are also installed in commercial premises where the risk of a break-in is determined to be low. Low-risk business sites might include a florist or a beauty salon where there is little cash or assets with a high monetary value left on-site.

Grade Three Intruder Alarms

Businesses that tend to carry, stock or store more valuable items or have a higher value of money within a till often require a grade-three intruder alarm. That might include newsagents and high-street shops, particularly those that stock items commonly targeted by thieves – think alcohol, cigarettes, electronics and in-store ATMs.

Grade Four Intruder Alarms

Finally, a grade four intruder alarm can be used in residential settings where there is a very high risk of an organised criminal break-in, such as where an occupant is a public figure. Commercial properties at extreme risk of illegal activity, such as banks, bonded warehouses, art galleries with high-value pieces, or jewellers or goldsmiths, also require grade four alarms.

It is essential to note that every component within an alarm system must conform to the minimum grading standard you require. For example, if you fit a grade two detector, every aspect of your alarm system within that building will perform to grade two standards.

Maintaining and Servicing Graded Intruder Alarms

We strongly recommend you organise the appropriate maintenance and servicing to keep your intruder alarms fully operational and to avoid any deviation from the level of protection you believe your alarm systems provide.

Most businesses require one check per year for simple audible-only alarms, six-monthly alarm maintenance visits for any intruder alarm subject to monitoring through our Alarm Receiving Centre, and potentially more frequent inspections for grade four alarms responsible for protecting sites at an elevated risk.

Ian Wilson

Business Development Director – Clearway Fire and Security

Ian possesses extensive knowledge across varied sectors including, Retail, Logistics & Distribution, Healthcare, Automotive, and Leisure/Hospitality sectors. Specialising in delivering innovation, growth, and retention, he is committed to providing outsourced solutions that yield cross-business benefits. His expertise extends to leveraging technology, whether in existing setups or through the implementation of new initiatives or product innovations.

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