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.