Category Archives: Ken Gentile

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.

The Right Tools to Win the Job – Emergency Communications

Emergency Communications is about delivering critical messages when and where they matter most – for fire, extreme weather, ECC-50-100_webaccidents, toxic leaks, aggressive or dangerous intruders or any threat to occupants in a building. Codes have changed and more jurisdictions are now requiring Emergency communications for life safety protection. Fire-Lite Alarm’s ECC-50/100 was designed specifically to meet these codes by offering the most scalable, flexible, multi-zoned, highly configurable fire evacuation and mass notification system on the market.

Fire-Lite provides all of the tools and support needed to easily install and program the ECC-50/100. To demonstrate how flexible and ECC App Iconconfigurable the ECC-50/100 system is we offer an ECC Sales App for Apple iPads. This tool is free to download and allows users to learn more about the product and demonstrate its functionality by pressing buttons on a virtual display. It also allows users to build and configure a system by adding amplifiers and modules while calculating total watts and speaker outputs.

Recently Fire-Lite made some additional updates to the ECC App which includes the following enhancements:

1.) Updated to iOS8 to showcase a clearer design/layout
2.) New MNS Events/Videos (Weather, RTZM and Live Voice Paging) added to the existing Fire Event.
3.) Interactive User Panel Aspect Ratio Updates to allow portrait mode to transition to landscape mode. (No more rotating the iPad in the middle of a sales presentation)
4.) New Building Layouts for the Remote Display Console demo (Office buildings, Schools, Sports center).
5.) New Product Overview Screens with the inclusion of low frequency
6.) Back Up Amps Added to Amplifiers and Speaker Zone Configurator
Another great feature of the ECC-50/100 is the ability to connect and activate it from any location using a cellular phone or landline. The ECC-RTZM can be installed in the ECC-50/100 and allows designated remote users to initiate a prerecorded message or make live announcements as needed. This product was awarded MVP (Most Valuable Product) from Security Sales & Integration magazine.

For more information on the ECC-50/100, the sales app or the ECC-RTZM, go to www.firelite.com.

What additions or updates would you like to see on the ECC App?  Tell us in the comments below!

 

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.

What’s new for SWIFT Tools 1.5?

Fire-Lite Alarms’ SWIFT™ wireless fire detection system detects fires, just like their wired counterparts, while providing instalWhats-newlation flexibility in a wireless format. Our wireless system can use any combination of Fire-Lite monitor modules, smoke and/or heat detectors. For even more speed and flexibility, Fire-Lite has updated our SWIFT™ Tools Version 1.5 to incorporate numerous improvements to make your experience with SWIFT™ even better!

What we Improved

  • Devices are added to mesh network four times faster than before
  • Faster display of wireless device state changes
  • Devices now persist in graphical view until removed from the communicator
  • Live events have been reordered so that latest events are shown at the top of the list.
  • Improved W-USB dongle connectivity for SWIFT™ Tools
  • Profile assignment screen now only allows the selection of devices that are in factory default mode (devices that do not have a profile assigned)
  • Improvements for network statistics data

What we Added

  • Real time mesh display added when a user selects a gateway
  • The ability to change to a new or different database without re-launching SWIFT™ Tools
  • The ability to cancel an unwanted operation
  • Device sorting in graphical mesh search dropdown
  • Added an indication of beacon strength for W-USB adapter in communicator
  • Added the W-USB adapter compatibility check, and added build number to the revision number displayed

 

Unlike other wireless systems, the Fire-Lite SWIFT™ wireless system is based on a true mesh network that provides multiple paths of communication for each device. This increases system survivability, reliability while the overall system design ensures a secure and robust solution. Our SWIFT™ wireless system along with our enhancements to the tool ensures that any new fire alarm installation or retrofit job can be performed fast and cost effectively.

Looking for more information on SWIFT™ Wireless?   We have you covered with our online videos, product pages, webinars, and an infographic with examples of real applications!

Need more?  Let us know in the comments below!

 

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.

Detectors that are Sensitive to your Budget

In any Fire Alarm installation, smoke detectors play an important role in protecting life and property. This is why it is imperative to check the sensitivity on a smoke detector to ensure that it can respond to a fire in a timely manner.

NFPA 72 2013 edition indicates that smoke detectors sensitivity ratings should be checked after the first year being installed and then every other subsequent year thereafter using any of the following methods:

(1) Calibrated test method

(2) Manufacturer’s calibrated sensitivity test instrument

(3) Listed control equipment arranged for the purpose

(4) Smoke detector/fire alarm control unit arrangement whereby the detector causes a signal at the fire alarm control unit where its sensitivity is outside its listed sensitivity range

(5) Other calibrated sensitivity test methods approved by the authority having jurisdiction

 

There are numerous devices available to check the sensitivity of a smoke detector. Some test devices introduce simulated smoke into a detector to create an alarm condition. This test proves that the detector is still able to accurately respond to a fire condition. This process of “smoking” each detector can take hours and can easily add up in labor charges for mid size to larger installations.

Fire-Lite Alarms’ Addressable Fire Alarm Panels, including the MS-9200UDLS, offer the capability to test the sensitivity of each detector without even removing the detector from the base. If there is a problem with the detector, the panel will provide a trouble along with a maintenance alert message. This message indicates that the detector needs to be serviced. Also, the test data is stored in the Fire Alarm Control panel and can be retrieved and reviewed using PS-Tools Configuration Software. Running these reports periodically can save many labor hours spent testing a system, while meeting the NFPA 72 requirements for sensitivity testing on a Fire Alarm Control Panel.

 

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.

Transform the Fire Panel to Meet Your Power Requirements

Since there is no such thing as a typical Fire Alarm System installation, trying to plan for every possible scenario can be difficult. Sometimes one of the more complex tasks can be trying to assess the amount of power required for a job. Even though there are many free tools offered to make this easier (such as Fire-Lite’s Lite-Configurator software) it still does not eliminate the possibility of more horn strobes or other devices being required at the end of the job. This could be a result of insufficient audibility / visibility or conflicting interpretations of the code.

This scenario can run the risk of delaying a project and pose a risk to the budget if the fire alarm control panel does not have available power to support the additional devices. In this case, the installer may need to add a NAC extender power supply. The equipment coupled with the additional labor poses a challenge to meeting the original budget.

To solve this problem, fire panel manufacturers have already recognized the need for expandable power to help insta??????????llers plan for the unexpected. Fire Alarm solutions, such as Fire-Lite Alarms MS-9200UDLS, provide expandable power options for installations where more devices might be required. If more power is required, upgrading the panel from 3 Amps to 6 Amps is as simple installing the XRM-24B accessory into the panel. If 6 amps of panel power is still not enough, Fire-Lite Alarms offers a variety of NAC Extender power supplies such as the FCPS-24FS6, 6 Amp power supply to meet the needs of every job’s power requirements.

 

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.

 

 

Go with the Flow – Benefits of Fire Sprinkler Monitoring

Fire sprinkler systems play a very important role in fire protection for most commercial and residential buildings. Often fire sprinkler systems are used to provide fire protection by releasing water or other fire extinguishing agents to limit the damage to a building and its contents. There are various types of sprinkler systems available depending on the building requirements and the local codes, including wet systems, dry systems, deluge systems, and pre-action systems. It is recommended to first consult with a building owner and the local Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) to find out what level of protection meets the local requirements of the building before selecting a system.

Like any type of system, there are undesirable occurrences which can prevent the system from operating as it was intended to; therefore, proper maintenance and inspection is important. Common failures in the system could be caused by mechanical, electrical, or simply human error. Since sprinkler systems are often mechanical systems only, it can sometimes be very diffWFDN_Lefticult to know if the system has activated somewhere in the building or if it has become inoperable. In response to this, many manufacturers now offer sprinkler system devices that can be fully monitored for alarms, troubles and other events such as pump failures, low pressure events, or even if an unauthorized person happens to tamper with the system. Many of the valves, pumps, and other mechanicals used in the system provide electrical contacts that change state when the system activates or becomes inoperable due to unexpected events. Similar devices such as System Sensors’ WFDN series of water flow detectors offers an adjustable and field replaceable mechanical time delay mechanism to help prevent false alarms due to changes in local water pressure.
Using these types of devices allows fire sprinkler systems to be monitored when connected to a fire alarm panel such as Fire-Lite Alarms’ MS-5UD or communicators such as the 411UDAC.These devices include built-in dialers that can alert an offsite monitoring company if there is a fire or if something unexpectedly changes in the system and it requires service. Monitored systems can also provide local annunciation of an alarm by ringing a bell or even turning on horn strobes when the fire alarm panel receives a signal that there is water flow in the system. It is still important that all sprinkler systems are tested and inspected regularly to NFPA requirements to ensure reliable fire protection for the building owner and its occupants

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.

Changes in Cellular Monitoring are on Fire!

The telecommunications industry is changing as the Plain Old Telephone System (POTS) is being phased out and consumers migrate to faster wireless and IP based alternatives. In response to this, cellular carriers and device makers have begun offering new devices and cellular network upgrades to handle the increased bandwidth requirements for consumers.

While these changes in technology are good for the consumer market as it brings about more speed, and accessibility of data, it has caused some challenges in the fire industry. Typically dealers look to save their customers money by eliminating phone lines while trying to protect them from any future technology changes that might occur when using a cellular communicator. So how can you protect your customer by getting them the most return on investment when migrating to a fully wireless cellular solution? The answer is to simply research your options.

So what are the different cellular formats and how do they affect my cellular monitoring for Fire? Many have most likely heard of second generation (2G) third generation (3G) and fourth generation (4G) of cellular networks. The most significant changes and value that these networks offer are better speed and coverage which is what consumers typically require for their devices.

In the Fire industry, it is a little different since speed is typically not as much of an issue because the amount of data being transferred is not significant. What is typically more important for Fire installations is coverage and longevity since a fire panel always needs to be connected to transmit life safety events and are typically not replaced every two years like many smart phones. That is why when selecting your Cellular communicator it is important to understand which cellular network is being used. It is also a good idea to make sure that the specific coverage required for your communicator is available in the location needed. It also a good idea to do your research to make sure that there are no immediate plans to discontinue the network that your Fire communicator will work on.

 

2G, 3G, 4G

2G Networks: Was launched in the US around1987 and Introduced SMS Texting as well as General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) which first offered packetized data transmission. 2G coverage is diminishing rapidly across the country since AT&T had announced that in early 2017 that they expect to completely discontinue their 2G cellular networks.

3G Networks: Was originally designed for voice calls and data transmission. 3G coverage is still pretty good around the United States but varies by carriers. 3G networks appear to have some longevity since there was a lot of investment made in this technology over time. No one knows specifically when 3G technology will be phased out by the carriers, but some rumors are that major carriers will not begin this process until at least 2020.

4G Networks: Was designed and launched around 2010 primarily for data transmission. It offers the fastest speeds available and coverage continues to be expanded as companies invest in these networks. There are different formats such as LTE and HSPA+ which vary by carriers. Both appear to offer decent longevity, but (LTE) Long Term Evolution appears to offer the fastest speeds.

 

In response, many cellular communicators have been designed to use 4G technology in order to give their customers the best coverage and the most longevity possible in an industry that is known for a lot of change. Fire-Lite’s IPGSM-4G connects to the DACT of any UL-listed fire alarm control panel and communicates over 4G cellular only, IP Ethernet or both. This allows customers to saves the costs of expensive POTS lines while offering them the best coverage and the most longevity possible.

 

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.

 

Better Access for Fire Applications

Fire alarm systems are typically designed with the primary objective of detecting and alerting building occupants that a danger from a fire exists. Many fire alarm systems, such as Fire-Lite’s MS-9200UDLS,  also have the ability to be integrated with access control systems to assist building occupants in safely evacuating a building. This is accomplished by unlocking doors that might have been previously locked during normal conditions.

During normal conditions, a typical Access control system might be designed to function solely for the purpose of provide secure access to areas in a building based on predetermined credentials created by the building owner or security personnel. However, when a fire event occurs, an Access control system may be designed to change the accessibility of a building for a faster evacuation. Areas of a building that may have been restricted to certain occupants during normal conditions may now be fully accessible so that a safe evacuation can occur. In addition, there may be some areas in a building that might pose a danger to occupants during a fire so in this case accessibility may need to be restricted.

Access Control power supply manufacturers have responded to these needs by offering Access control modules that can be easily integrated with an existing Fire Alarm system. These controller modules are often designed and listed to meet stringent UL 1481 requirements for Fire Alarm systems which ultimately would allow them to connect directly to an output of a Fire Alarm system. During these types of scenarios, a fire alarm panel would have the capability to take control of the access control system and override any magnetic lock or door strike circuit to allow for a full building evacuation as required by the needs of the building and its occupants.

Similar Access control power supplies such as Honeywell Power’s HPACM8 offers an eight (8) independently controlled fuse protected outputs. For convenience, these outputs can be activated by an input from an Access Control System (such as a Card Reader, Keypad or Push Button) or overridden by a dry contact or a Notification Appliance Circuit output from a Fire alarm panel in the event of a fire emergency.

For more information on Access control power supplies click on Honeywell Power Access Control

 

 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.

 

IPGSM-4G: The Voice of Productivity

Provisioning the IPGSM-4G commercial Fire Alarm communicator just got easier with AlarmNet’s new Interactive Voice Response System (IVR) that allows for faster programming and commissioning. IVR is an automated call-in, voice-prompt service that allows customers to program and activate the IPGSM-4G without having to speak to an AlarmNet representative. With AlarmNet’s, IVR option, you can quickly and easily program a new device for registration to a new AlarmNet account, activate a device SIM or simply call to check the SIM status of any IPGSM communicator. This new feature will be available starting July 28, 2014, and is readily available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for your convenience.

So how do you begin using it? It’s simple. Call the IVR service at 1-800-222-6525 and select option 1 for Technical Support, then option 1 again for Activation and Registration. Next, provide a clear voice response to the IVR prompts and you will be finished before you know it! To set up programming of the device you will need to provide the device MAC and CRC, the central station account information (City-CSID-SUBSCRIBER) and the desired supervision interval.

The IPGSM-4G is a secure and reliable Commercial Fire Alarm Communicator that offers Contact-ID reporting for any Fire Alarm Control Panel (FACP) that has a built-in dialer. This Central Station communicator eliminates the need for costly plain old telephone lines (POTS) and replaces them with state-of-the-art cellular or internet/ IP communications that is secured over the AlarmNet Network.

For more information or specific product information, you can click the following links below to learn more:

Honeywell’s IPGSM-4G
IVR Announcement, AlarmNet:
LIVRPLDIVRFAQs_V3

 

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.