NFPA 72 2010 Basics

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.

NFPA 72 2013 Brings Big Changes to Central Station Communications

One of the fire alarm industry’s more significant changes in recent years has been the updates to the NFPA 72 2013 code for central station communications. It is vital that fire alarm dealers understand the evolution of these requirements, which will have a significant impact on the entire industry in the coming years.

Changes in the Technology

The way fire panels communicate to a central station is undergoing significant changes in the future. For more than 40 years, plain old telephone systems (POTS) had been used for fire alarm communications. Today, analog POTS are becoming an obsolete technology and eventually will be phased out. Even the FCC says POTS is not sustainable, and AT&T agrees the technology is past its prime. The transition away from POTS technology to alternative communication methods impacts the use of the traditional digital alarm communicator transmitters (DACTs) that are widely used in most fire panels on the market today. Fire alarm dealers and installers should be aware of this shift, which will begin to impact the type of technology that can be used in new installations. It will also have an impact on existing fire alarm panel installations that currently communicate over POTS and will need to be retrofitted to an alternative form of communications.

What Code do I have to comply to?

If you have decided to move away from POTS lines and have been investigating using alternative communication for your Fire Alarm system, the best place to start is to check with your local Authority having jurisdiction to understand the local code requirements. Different jurisdictions might elect to adopt older versions of NFPA 72 while others might adopt the newest standards as soon as they are released. Understanding your local code requirements will help you select the correct technology to meet your local AHJ requirements and help you speed up the inspection process for your Fire installation. It will also help you better meet your customer’s needs while helping them save on costs by providing them with the best technology for their installations.

Later this week, we’ll take a closer look at the NFPA 72 codes that govern central station communication for Fire Alarm systems.

 

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.

Fire-Lite Alarms Training Update: SWIFT Wireless

With 2015 rapidly drawing to a close, I’ll take this opportunity to provide an update on our Fire-Lite Academies.

To date, many technicians have attended our 2-Day Fire-Lite Systems classes across the country. With the current number of registrations we’ve received for the remaining 2015 classes, we stand poised to see the total number of attendees increase by quite a bit!

Moving on to 2016, we have added 3 hours of training on our new SWIFT® Wireless System to the 2nd day of the Systems class. This session provides an overview of the system and its components and available software tool which can be instrumental in performing a Site Survey and configuring a SWIFT® Wireless system. The training culminates with a hands-on Site Survey and System Configuration lab.

Check out our NEW 2016 training schedule and look for a Fire-Lite Academy near you.

Have a wonderful and healthy holiday season. Hope to see you next year!

About the Author
Tom Rosa oversees all Fire-Lite Alarms training programs as a Training Supervisor for Honeywell Fire Systems. With more than a decade of experience as a Fire-Lite trainer and the support of a strong team of experienced, NICET-certified trainers, Tom guides the content and methods by which the company educates Fire-Lite users throughout the United States and Caribbean.

Answers to Your Fiber Optic Questions

Fiber-optic cable is used in many industries, like Telecommunications, Video, and Fire Alarm. In Fire, for example, connections are made between the fire alarm control panels via fiber to avoid the troubles associated with running copper underground between buildings.

As the use of fiber becomes more prevalent in the Fire Alarm industry, there are many questions about different fiber specifications, power budgeting, termination, and product listings. In July 2015, we answered many of those fiber questions during our webinar, Myth Busting Fiber – Part II. You may view the entire webinar by clicking here.

To learn more about fiber and solutions that utilize fiber, please visit www.firelite.com.

 

About the Author
Richard Conner is the Director of Marketing for Fire-Lite Alarms, Silent Knight and Honeywell Power. Richard joined Honeywell in 2002 and has over 15 years of experience in the fire alarm industry in Marketing, Engineering, and Product Support positions. Richard is responsible for developing brand strategy and marketing programs for all brands.