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Burglar Bars: A Bad Idea

Burglar BarsSome people choose burglar bars to defend their homes.

We understand the thought process. They certainly look imposing, and a physical barrier might be a little easier to trust, psychologically, than the more “invisible” protection offered by a monitored home alarm system.

The biggest problem? In the event of a fire they pose a big risk to you and your family members.

The United States Fire Administration actually issued a special report about burglar bars.

Based on data obtained from the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS), on average about 25 civilians are injured or die each year in fires where escape is compromised by unauthorized bars or gates. The actual numbers may be larger than that, due to the fact that the presence of burglar bars is not always collected in a way that is recorded by NFIRS (e.g., written in text but not coded). The most recent version of NFIRS, version 5.0, allows for the collection of data concerning burglar bars; however, data from the new version is not yet available.

Most fatalities/injuries involving burglar bars occur in residences, when people become entrapped by the very bars that are supposed to protect them. Children, the elderly, the mobility impaired, and firefighters are especially vulnerable. The bars also can hamper rescue efforts, especially the efforts of those who arrive before public safety personnel.

U.S. Fire Administration/Technical Report Series Special Report: Security (Burglar) Bars

25 deaths may not seem like a lot to you, especially when you compare it to the number of fires that happen each year. But remember, the numbers come from the very small cross-section of people who have both a fire and a set of burglar bars.

Now, as the report goes on to mention, it is possible to get bars with a fast release mechanism in case of fire. However, things are chaotic in a fire. In general, it may not be best to put one more obstacle between yourself and the exterior of your home, especially if there are any children in your house or any elderly residents who may move slowly or become easily confused in a crisis situation.

Burglar bars are also a lot more expensive than a monitored alarm system. A monitored alarm system will cost you less than $35 a month, which would also typically include fire protection. A burglar bar set would cost $300 per window if you place authorized, code-compliant fast-release bars on your property. If you have 10 windows, you’ve paid $3000 to make it harder to get out of your home in the event of a fire and to add a safety mechanism that cannot call the police on your behalf if you encounter trouble.

You also typically have to have a building permit to add them. You do not need a building permit to have a monitored home alarm system professionally installed in your home.

Isn’t the choice clear?

If it is, and you live in the Charlotte, NC area, call us. We’ll give you an estimate on your monitored alarm system today. We’ll keep you safe from burglars and from fire.


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