Chapter 26 of the NFPA 72 2010 standard helps define some of the acceptable communication methods for central station reporting. This is an important part of the POTS conversation because it specifies many of the alternative communication methods that can be used and are rapidly replacing POTS lines. It also clearly states that there is nothing in Chapter 26 of the 2010 standard that prohibits the use of alternative communications technology.
Here are some of the highlights of the standard:
- NFPA 72 does allow for the use of alternate communications technology, including cellular or IP, for central station reporting.
- The code requires that any alternate communication technology must provide a level of reliability and supervision consistent with the requirements listed in Chapter 10.
- When using a single communication technology, the central station must annunciate a trouble within 5 minutes after loss of communication
- When using multiple communication technologies, the central station must annunciate a trouble within 24 hours after loss of communication.
This is good news. NFPA 72 specifically allows for IP and/or cellular communication with central stations, and also ensures that our modern fire alarm systems still have the same level of reliability and supervision POTS has provided for four decades.
So what has changed for 2013?
The NFPA 72 code was updated in 2013 and impacts the use of POTS lines in a fire alarm installation as well as the supervision requirements for single or multiple path technologies.
The 2013 version of NFPA 72 code includes some changes that will impact the of primary and secondary POTS lines in an installation. If you have a primary POTS connection, and you’re under 2013 jurisdiction, you’re now required by the code to seek out alternative communication methods as a backup to the POTS Lines. This could be a one-way private radio alarm system, a two-way RF multiplex system or any transmission means that complies with NPFA 72 2013, such as IP and cellular. A secondary POTS line is not permitted for multi-path communications unless there is no cellular, IP or radio available in the area. In addition you will find that some of the supervision requirements have been changed in the 2013 edition of the code. Below you will find a summary of these changes.
- When using a single communication technology, the central station must annunciate a trouble within 60 minutes after loss of communication
- When using multiple communication technologies, the central station must annunciate a trouble within 6 hours after loss of communication.
Benefits to Fire Alarm Dealers
As the industry embraces IP and cellular technology, NFPA 72 is evolving with the future in mind. The 2013 code brings several benefits to fire alarm dealers in regard to single communication technology:
- Fewer unnecessary service calls from cell tower maintenance. With the new 60-minute single path supervision requirements, dealers are less likely to have to roll a truck due to tower maintenance outages, which can sometimes last up to 20 minutes.
- Reduced service calls resulting from random IP network outages with the new 60-minute single path supervision requirements. A normal fluctuation in IP signal previously may have required a service visit but usually would have resolved itself by the time the fire alarm dealer arrived.
As POTS slowly disappears, exciting changes are under way. Although these emerging technologies may take a little time to get used to, most dealers will find that they can save time and money by bidding farewell to POTS.
Check out our previous post for more about central station communications brought about by NFPA 72 2013.
About the Author
Ken Gentile is a Product Manager for Fire-Lite Alarms and Honeywell Power. Using his more than 15 years of marketing and engineering experience, Ken’s primary focus lies in the development of new products.