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What Is an Alarm Receiving Centre?

What Is an Alarm Receiving Centre?
What Is an Alarm Receiving Centre?

An Alarm Receiving Centre, or ARC, is a professional, controlled facility that manages alarm responses from a variety of security and fire safety systems, ranging from fire and intruder alarms to panic buttons to advanced CCTV surveillance networks.

There is a huge added value for clients, who have the assurance that any alarm or motion detector within their facility or building is under constant supervision. Any live intrusion or attempted theft can be dealt with immediately, dispatching security responders or the emergency services as necessary.


What Security Services Can an Alarm Receiving Centre Provide?

NSI Gold Category II status ARC is accredited to the highest possible level. It acts as an integral part of a security response service, augmenting the risk mitigation that security systems and alarms provide.

There are multiple layers of security with strict access controls to ensure all data transmitted to the ARC is only available to approved responders. While every client or business can tailor their response policies as required, the normal process is as follows:

  1. The alarm, motion detector or CCTV surveillance system initiates an alarm signal or raises an alert.
  2. A signal is transmitted securely directly from the client’s control panel or security system to the ARC.
  3. An operative reviews the signal and determines whether the alarm is a false alert, a real-time event, or an emergency such as a fire.
  4. Should the alarm have been activated during working hours, they may contact the appropriate staff member to share their findings or ask for on-the-ground verification of the cause of the alarm.
  5. Otherwise, the responder can review footage through video-verified alarms or CCTV cameras to determine what is happening and how to respond.

If an alarm is found to be legitimate, the operative will react accordingly, whether contacting the police, alerting on-site security teams, liaising with the fire and rescue service, or warning an intruder that they are being live recorded if the site has an audio challenge facility.

Clearway NSI Gold Cat II ARC interior

What Alarms Can an ARC Monitor?

ARC can track and respond to a broad array of alarms and signals, including but not limited to:

  • Intruder alarms, motion detection sensors and CCTV cameras.
  • Fire, smoke and other environmental risk alarms.
  • Personal safety devices such as SOS buttons and panic alarms
  • Lone worker devices or apps.

Depending on the security infrastructure in place, an operative can manually control cameras to zoom into the scene, utilise facial recognition detection software, or even arm and disarm alarms to avoid an unnecessary callout in the middle of the night to a false alert.

Managing Serious Emergencies With Support From an Alarm Receiving Centre

While genuine alarms are much less common than false alerts, often caused by wildlife, having a team of security responders on standby at all times can make a significant difference to your risk exposure, potential losses and the impact of an intrusion.

If a business uses Clearway’s security patrol, guarding or keyholding services, a responder might, in the first instance, communicate with the designated personnel or guarding team, depending on the severity of the alarm or circumstance.

In the worst-case scenarios, they will contact the emergency services directly only if they have verified with on-site staff or through CCTV cameras that there is a live incident underway.

This approach avoids ever calling the police or fire service for a situation that does not warrant an emergency response. ARCs are given specific identification codes called Unique Reference Numbers (URNs), which confirm their status as an approved security services provider and inform the police dispatcher or other service responder that the alert has been verified.

In many cases, the police will react quickly to a request to attend an incident lodged by an ARC with a URN since they know that the situation is serious, authentic and requires a rapid response.

Working With an Alarm Receiving Centre to Improve Fire Safety

While many clients primarily choose to contract their alarm monitoring to our ARC to improve the effectiveness of their security, they also find that there is a great deal of reassurance in having a response service always monitoring environmental alarms.

Fire and smoke detectors, fall alarms, and alarms that monitor other aspects, such as flooding or gas leaks, should always be responded to as quickly as possible – and having an operative call the fire service immediately can prevent extensive damage.

Particularly out of hours, many fire alarms are assumed to be false unless a fire is visible, at which point the flames may have spread and be considerably more difficult to get under control.

fire alarm


Choosing an Established and Accredited Alarm Receiving Centre

Like every aspect of your security services, we recommend using an ARC with a proven track record of high-quality support, sufficient quality controls, and staff training policies to ensure your systems are properly monitored and all actions taken are logged and reported.

A professional ARC is a very different facility from a conventional call centre and should meet rigorous industry standards.

Clearway is a sector-leading provider of nationwide security assistance and works with well-known enterprises in the public and private sectors, ranging from NHS facilities to commercial property development firms, high-security research and business compounds, and specialist construction companies. Our ARC is staffed continually, 24 hours a day and 365 days a year, with skilled responders who are highly trained in emergency response protocols and alarm verification techniques.

Did you know that Clearway’s Alarm Receiving Centre is ECHO-connected?

ECHO is a not-for-profit organisation delivering automated alarm signalling and messaging between ARCs and blue light services, speeding up deployment of blue light responders to emergencies.

Police response times are estimated to be 1-4 minutes quicker for ECHO-connected alarmed sites, this represents a significant increase in effective deployment – delivering better deterrence and outcomes for our clients.

ECHO Connected


  • Accurate and faster alarm passing from machine to machine – reducing response times
  • Accurate incident information – reducing the potential for human error by utilising digital information transfer
  • Automatic incident acknowledgement – no verbal incident number requirement as this will be passed digitally
  • Improved key holder information – ECHO will pass key holder ETAs and details
  • False alarm management – ECHO can pass information back to our ARC on whether the alarm was genuine or false

With military-grade security and a secure, tamper and hacking-proof power supply backed by emergency generators, we are always on standby and contactable in an emergency.

We hold National Security Inspectorate Gold Standard approval, awarded to a select number of firms who meet exacting Quality Management Systems standards, alongside British Standard certification requirements related to BS 5979 – the UK standard for remote centres managing security or fire safety alarms.

For more information about the services we provide, our ARC, or how this can add value to your security setup and significantly reduce the potential of a security incident occurring or an attempted intrusion being successful, please get in touch at any time.

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