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Five Things to Consider Before Hiring a Security Firm

  • Posted by: Lloyd Gitonga

As we are headed into an election year, maybe you took some time to reflect and saw it fit to hire a security firm to ensure your safety? If so, you made the right choice!

Your next step will be to pick a reliable, reputable security service provider who can guarantee that they’ll protect you and all that you love and hold dear, be it your business or your family. Now with over 2,500 private security firms in the country, you really are spoiled for choice!

But we reckon that to make a great choice here, there are five things that you should look out for:

  1. Experience:

Now, there may be at least 2,500 private security providers, but only a few have been around for a while. A firm that has been around for a while understands the lay of the land, have a good grasp of the dynamic security trends in the country, and would therefore be best placed to understand what you need. Plus, these are probably the names and brands that you would be inclined to trust more. You should ask yourself questions like: “How long have they been in operation? What is their client portfolio? What is their reputation like? Have any friends or associates referred you to them in the past?

  1. Certifications:

Think of certifications as an assurance of quality and another guarantee that your security service provider adheres to a certain prescribed set of regulations in their operations and has achieved internationally recognised standards of quality. Qualifications that you should be looking out for in this case are certifications like ISO 9001 and OHSAS 18001: 2007 (Occupational Health and Safety). Another vital certification is that of City and Guilds, a world leader in skill development. This would be a strong indicator of how seriously your preferred security provider takes the training of their staff, particularly the uniformed section.

For instance, are their guards trained on self-defence, first aid, fire-fighting, counter-terrorism, first-responder-on-scene investigations, and customer care? If you were still wondering what the difference between a watchman and a private security guard is, it’s all in the training. A well-trained private security guard is an all-round professional who can fend off opposition, armed or unarmed, put out fires, and still welcome your guests with a smile as they enter your premises. This is as compared to a watchman who can only open gates and blow whistles when they spot suspicious activity.

  1. Membership in Professional Bodies:

Each well-established industry has a professional body that sets out prescribed standards of service that all its member firms must adhere to. For the private security industry, that is the Kenya Security Industry Association (KSIA). The minimum requirements as listed by the KSIA are drawn from the country’s labour laws, the Private Security Act, international standards and specifications, as well as their own professional experience. All this ensures that a private security provider’s personnel, systems, equipment, products, and services are up to date. The KSIA also looks out for private security guards’ welfare and therefore ensures that all its members adhere to the minimum wage policy as per the law.

Beyond minimum wage, the KSIA also prescribes standards for the training and equipping of personnel. This is vital for you as you will be getting a highly-motivated guard who looks forward to coming to work every day and will give his or her all to keep you safe. The last thing you would want is an under-paid, poorly trained, ill-equipped watchman to be your first line of defence in the face of any threat.

  1. Size:

The size of a security firm is indicative of its standard of service, professionalism, and experience. How many security guards do they have? Is your private security provider a multinational firm? How big is their operational fleet? How visible are they? Do you see their emergency response units patrolling the city streets or estate alleyways? How about their supervisory framework, are their guards well supervised? It is easier to place your faith in a bigger brand who have the resources, human or otherwise, to adequately cater to your needs and respond in good time should the need arise.

  1. Technical Proficiency:

The world of security is slowly moving from the physical, 6-foot plus presence at your gate towards technical, more sophisticated security and surveillance systems. Aspects such as cyber security, counter terrorism, and counter surveillance have now taken precedence as crime trends continue to be dynamic worldwide. It is vital that your private security provider has the technical capacity to assemble, install, maintain, and repair such systems when the need arises.

What systems do they work with? Which brands are their technicians proficient with? If they are exclusive agents for some of the world leaders in security technology such as Astrophysics (baggage and cargo scanners), Garrett (metal detectors), Honeywell (fire detection and suppression systems) then this is definitely an added bonus.

How about their technical team, how many technicians do they have? Are you assured of prompt response in the event of a system malfunction? Say one of your CCTV cameras stops working?


Value Addition:

So by this point you should probably have come up with a shortlist of whom to approach. Here’s a tie-breaker, what value addition does the provider offer you beyond security? Value addition could be in the form of 24-hour Customer Care support, free-of-charge security intelligence briefings, or a free alerts service through which you could instantly be notified of security alerts in real time.

With this checklist in mind, we hope we’ve helped you make the right choice!

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