General AFA Questions

 

What does AFA stand for?

AFA represents the initials of the original name, Automatic Fire Alarm Company, Inc., that was used to establish our company in 1873. We changed our name to AFA Protective Systems, Inc. to better represent the broader range of protective services that we provide to our clients.

 

Why choose AFA Protective Systems, Inc. over any other alarm company?

AFA has a history of long-term relationships with customers, partners and manufacturers. We are a company you can take at our word and rely on. We provide equipment from leading manufacturers, not proprietary systems so your installation and service experience is simple, reliable and convenient.

 

What number can I call to get service after normal business hours?

888-232-1873. Use this number for service after normal business hours. Have your Central Station Account Number, your Alarm Passcard or your contract number available for prompt service. These calls may be recorded for quality assurance purposes.

 

Are calls made either to or from your central station recorded?

Yes. Local jurisdictions want all calls made to or from the central station recorded for later use and to ensure accuracy of the information that is gathered during the calls.

 

How do I change the people on my Emergency Notification call list?

Register your central station account with AFA by calling 888-232-1873. After you are approved, you can use My Account for online management of your system including your Emergency Notification call list. You can also complete our "Call List Update" form found at the bottom of My Account and fax, mail or email it to us. 

 

Does AFA install Underwriter’s Laboratories, Inc. (UL) Certificated Burglar and Fire Alarm Systems or Factory Mutual Global (FM) Approved fire alarm systems?

Yes. AFA can provide a UL certificated Fire Alarm or Burglar Alarm system. We can also provide an FM Placarded Fire alarm system. Additionally AFA offers inspection services that can be UL certificated. 

 
I have heard that certain municipalities require permits for alarms. How do I obtain a permit?

Contact your local Fire and/or Police Department to find out if you need a permit for your alarm system. You should obtain any application forms or documents from the Fire and/or Police Department as well as any fees associated with registering your alarm. Please provide AFA with your permit number once you have received it so that you receive the quickest response and do not incur any penalties.

 
I currently have a contract with another alarm company, but I’m not satisfied with their service. Can AFA take over their service?

Yes. As long as you are no longer under contractual obligation with another company we will be happy to provide service and/or monitoring for your system. AFA works with leading manufacturers and can service and monitor all major alarm systems.

 

Can I pay my bill online?

Yes. Simply log in to Pay Bills to pay your bill securely online and manage your account.

 

Does AFA accept payment by credit cards?

Yes. By using our Pay Bills feature you can pay your bill securely online with your credit card. 

 

 

Business/Commercial Questions

 
How often should I test my fire alarm system?

AFA follows fire alarm system test schedules as recommended by the National Fire Protection Association and your Local AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction). We work with your AHJ and will coordinate with any additional insurance regulations you may have to ensure that you are in compliance with fire alarm system testing requirements. Contact us to find out more about our Fire Alarm Inspection and Testing services.

 

When was my last fire alarm inspection? When is my next fire alarm inspection?

Records of completed and scheduled fire alarm inspections are maintained for you in our central station. You can access these records by using your My Account log in.  You can access your online account from any mobile device. Our software will allow you to access your account information and view completed inspection records and upcoming inspections. Contact us to find out more about our Inspection and Testing Services

 

How can I register with the central station to access my alarm inspection history from a computer or mobile device?

If you would like to register, please call 888-232-1873. In order to register, you must have your contract number or account number readily available. After your registration has been sent to our central station, please allow up to 2 business days to be verified and set up in our system. When your Central Station Account set up is complete, you will be verified via email with your account credentials. 

 

Does AFA offer systems where cameras can be accessed and viewed remotely?

Yes. AFA offers AFA Vision Remote and Video Surveillance services to allow you to monitor your business, retail store or facility from any mobile device. Internet access is needed. Contact us to learn more about our remote monitoring services.

 

Does AFA offer systems that can be operated remotely?

Yes. AFA commercial security systems can be operated remotely from any mobile device or with a portable control panel that has Internet connectivity. Your system can be designed so that you can monitor activity and control heating, lighting and alarms remotely. Contact us to learn more about our remote monitoring systems.

 

Does AFA offer remote video surveillance?

Yes. AFA offers AFA Vision Remote and Video Surveillance services to allow you to monitor your business, retail store or facility from any mobile device with Internet connectivity. You can view all activity for your business live or via archived video. You can always know what is happening at your business even when you are not there. Contact us to learn more about our video surveillance services.

 

Is AFA capable of installing Fiber Optic CCTV systems?

Yes. AFA installs Fiber Optic Closed Circuit TV to protect your business from liability and theft 24 hours a day. Videos can be viewed live and are archived and time and date stamped to provide a comprehensive, auditable trail of events. Contact us to find out more about our Video Surveillance systems and services.

 

I received an Alarm System Passcard from your company. What is it for?

Your Alarm System Passcard provides the user with a unique ID number so that they can securely put alarm systems into and out of test remotely from a mobile device or computer.

 

Can I put my system into test status without talking to an Operator?

Yes. If you are registered with our central station, you can log in to My Account and use your Alarm System Passcard to put your alarm system into and out of test status from your computer. You can also remotely manage your account from a mobile device using MasMobile – a free smart phone application. If you have any questions on how to download MasMobile, please call your local branch or email us at info@afap.com.

How can I register with the central station to manage my account from a computer or mobile device?

If you would like to register to manage your account remotely, please call us at 888-232-1873. In order to register you must have your contract number or account number readily available. After your registration has been sent to our central station, please allow up to 2 business days to be verified and set up in our system. When your account set up is complete, you will be notified via email with your account credentials. 

If I call the Central Monitoring Center and place my account on test, how long will it remain on test?

When your system is placed on test it will stay in test mode for 8 hours unless you contact us to take it out of test.

 

What happens when I call the Central Station Monitoring Center and place my account on test?

Putting an account “on test” tells our central station automation system that all signals received from your account during the “test” or “off line” period are to be logged only and not acted upon. Central Station operators will take no action on signals sent from a system during the “on test” period. Although your system will sound and function normally at the premises, alarms will not be transmitted to fire departments or other authorities while in test status. When your system is taken out of test mode, our Central Monitoring Center operators will treat all alarms as actual alarm signals.

IF AN ACTUAL FIRE OR EMERGENCY OCCURS WHILE "ON TEST" YOU SHOULD CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY.

 

 

Home Security Questions

 

I just moved into a new house that has a system installed by another company. Can AFA monitor my system?

Yes. AFA works with leading manufacturers and can monitor all major alarm systems.  As long as you are not under a contractual obligation with another company we will be happy to provide monitoring service for your system.

 

Will I have to sign a contract to obtain service or monitoring? How long will the commitment have to be?

Yes, AFA needs to have a contract with its customers to provide services. AFA offers contracts of variable lengths for our services and monitoring to meet your unique needs.

 

How competitive are your rates?

Our rates are very competitive and are adjustable based on your needs and the length of your contract. Our rate plans include monitoring from our redundant UL Listed Central Station Monitoring facilities so you can be assured of receiving reliable service.

 

How often will I be billed?

You can set up a billing plan to meet your needs: quarterly, semi-annually or annually. Use our auto-pay plan to set up automatic payments and Pay Bills to manage your account online.

 

Can AFA provide service for my existing alarm system even though another company installed it?

Yes. AFA works with leading manufacturers and can service most major alarm systems.  As long as you are not under a contractual obligation with another company we will be happy to provide service for your system.

 

What happens if the power goes out?

Our alarm systems are equipped with a battery back-up so a system may still be functioning at the premise for up to 24 hours. However, a signal being transmitted will depend upon the type(s) of alarm signal transmission method being used. Learn more about IP/GSM transmission technologies.

 

How often should the security system be tested?

Testing and inspecting requirements vary by system, but all systems should be checked and tested annually. AFA provides service contracts so that your system is tested on a regular schedule giving you confidence that your home is protected.

 

How do I test my system?

AFA provides you with an Alarm System Passcard that allows you to put your alarm system into and out of test remotely from a mobile device or your computer by logging in to My Account. Putting an account “on test” tells our central station automation system that all signals received from your account during the “test” or “off line” period are to be logged only and not acted upon. Central Station operators will take no action on signals sent from a system during the “on test” period. Although your system will sound and function normally, at the premises, alarms will not be transmitted to fire departments or other authorities. Your system will stay in test mode for 8 hours. During this time you can arm your system and test the system by opening windows and doors and tripping motion detectors. When your system is taken out of test mode, all alarms will be treated as actual alarm signals by Central Monitoring Center operators.

IF AN ACTUAL FIRE OR EMERGENCY OCCURS WHILE "ON TEST" YOU SHOULD CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY.

 

Do you install for renters?

Yes, as long as your landlord or building owner allows individual alarm systems.

 

Do you ever advertise sales or discounts on installations?

Because AFA offers very competitive pricing, we are confident that we have the highest quality systems for the price offered. Our competitive pricing and responsive, reliable service means that you get the best solution for your needs at the best price every day.

 

Alarm Signal Transmission Questions

 

Does the upcoming change to regular phone service affect my existing alarm system?

If your alarm signals are transmitted via POTS lines (plain old telephone service) then your alarm system may be affected in the near future and depending upon where you are located.  Those systems that transmit alarm signals via internet or GSM cellular will not be affected by the change to phone service.

 

How do signals get sent from my property to your central station monitoring facility?

Currently alarm signals are sent via POTS, VoIP, Internet or GSM cellular or long range radio signal to the central station monitoring facility. POTS is scheduled to be phased out in 2018 under the FCC Broadband Initiative.

 

What should I know about the types of alarm signal transmissions methods?

While POTS is currently the most widely used type of alarm signal transmission method it is planned to be phased out under the FCC Broadband Initiative.  VoIP service, which converts analog signal to digital and then back to analog and is provided by traditional phone service providers, cable companies or third parties may be affected by the FCC Broadband Initiative. Both Internet and GSM cellular service will not be affected by the Broadband Initiative but may have occasional power or service outages. Making sure that your Internet modem & router have battery back up is important. If Internet service is interrupted our central monitoring station will notify you. GSM cellular service, as with any cellular service, may not work well in certain locations.

 

Even if I keep my same phone number, if I change phone service providers, could it affect my alarm service?

Yes. Because each phone service provider may use a different set of wires, or cable line, your alarm service could be affected by a change in providers. If you change phone service providers you should test your system or schedule a service call to test the system.  If you test your system, be sure to notify the central monitoring station. Your system should be tested any time you change service providers.

 

If we send signals over the internet and change internet service providers, could it affect my alarm service?

Because each internet service provider may use a different set of wires, your alarm service could be affected by a change in providers. If you change internet service providers you should test your system or schedule a service call to test the system.  If you test your system, be sure to notify the central monitoring station. Your system should be tested any time you change service providers.

 

Is it expensive to switch from transmitting signals over phone lines to transmitting signals via GSM cellular radio, internet or both?

Not Necessarily. There is a cost incurred for switching from phone line signal transmission to GSM and/or internet service signal transmission but it is not that expensive and will probably be necessary before the Broadband Initiative planned phase out of POTS by 2018. The switch only takes a few hours for GSM cellular or Internet service. Switching to both takes a few more hours and is a bit more expensive but can be done at the same time and provides redundant paths to send a signal to our central station.

 

Does my existing alarm system need to change if I change the way alarm signals are sent to the central station?

No. Because our technicians and installers are experienced with the leading alarm manufacturers, in most cases we will be able to add the GSM and/or Intranet alarm signal transmission methods to your existing alarm system.

 

How can I switch my method of sending signals from over phone lines to either GSM cellular, internet or both?

By calling either your local AFA branch or email us at info@afap.com you can discuss switching your alarm signal transmission method.  A customer service representative will work with you to discuss your specific requirements and set an appointment for one of our experienced technicians and installers to help you make the transition easily.

 

If I switch my alarm signal transmission service from phone line service to sending signals over the internet, do I need to be concerned with anything in my home or business?

Yes. It is important to ensure that you have UPS battery back-up with surge protection for the router and modem that provide the internet signal and connectivity.  In the event of a power outage the battery back-up will ensure that your alarm system continues to function.

 

How long will POTS (plain old telephone service) be supported?

According to FCC filings, POTS is scheduled to be phased out around 2018.

 

Are VoIP (voice over internet protocol) lines acceptable to use with fire alarm systems for transmitting signals?

Yes, if the phone service provider you are using has a Managed Facilities Voice Network (MFVN) to process calls that is acceptable to your local AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction). Your local AHJ can let you know which service providers in your area are acceptable to them.

 

Do Fire Alarm systems need two (2) telephone lines for alarm signal transmission?

No. As long as there are other approved methods of sending a signal from the premise to the central station monitoring facility. A building can use two POTS lines (while available) or two VoIP lines but can also save money and have greater signal path redundancy by sending signals over internet and cellular (IP/GSM) Transmission means. By not needing two phone lines, your overall monthly costs will be less.