Tag Archives: Central Station

New Fiber Choice for Lite-Connect

The Fire-Lite Alarms’ Lite-Connect solution enables Fire-Lite fire alarm control panels in multiple buildings to consolidate central station communications by allowing a “main” panel to become the communicator for the complete system. The connections between the fire alarm control panels are made via fiber to avoid the troubles associated with running copper underground between buildings. To add to this innovative solution, Lite-Connect now supports 50/125um multi-mode fiber.

Now with the choice of 62.5/125um multi-mode fiber and 50/125um multi-mode fiber (LC connectors), you can meet your installation needs on top of the benefits of consolidating the central station communications to a single MS-9050UD fire alarm control panel. Lite-Connect offers:

  • Reduce Callbacks. Running wire underground to connect panels together in remote buildings is prone to ground faults and lighting strikes. Fiber-optic cable eliminates these potential issues.
  • Less Phone Lines. Save the end user money on additional phone lines, monitoring costs, and monitor modules. Whether you are monitoring individual buildings or consolidating communications with the Signaling Line Circuit (SLC) from a main panel.
  • Faster First Responder Response. If monitoring via SLC and monitor modules, Alarm, Trouble, and Supervisory are typically what is available. Lite-Connect offers zone and point information to help first responders pinpoint the location of the alarm and leads to a faster response.
  • Central Station Reporting. Easy to read Central Station reports that are generated based on the system programming for the specific project geared towards reducing installation time.

We are also pleased to share that Lite-Connect solution has earned a Campus Safety BEST Award in the Fire/Life Safety Category! For more information, feel free to view our short video or 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.

Busting the Myths That Undermine Fiber-Optic Cable Usage

Fiber-optic cabling is used in many low-voltage applications today thanks to its many operational benefits. Yet misconceptions are still rampant about fiber installation and testing, according to Brian Prusinski, director of sales at West Penn Wire, one of the leading manufacturing companies of low-voltage cabling and interconnecting in the electronics industry.

“There are still myths out there that fiber is too expensive, delicate, difficult to pull, it’s susceptible to breakage like other glass objects, and it’s near impossible to terminate in the field. Let’s bust these myths,” Prusinski said during a March 31 Fire-Lite Alarms webinar titled “Myth Busting Fiber-Optic Cabling and Termination.”

Almost 70 percent of the webinar’s participants reported that their businesses barely work with fiber, and many before the presentation thought fiber should be left to fiber specialists. Following the webinar and Prusinki’s record-straightening discussion of common fiber misconceptions, many left with an enhanced understanding of fiber-optic cabling.

“With unlimited bandwidth, maximum security, a low profile and ease of termination, fiber optics is among the most viable interconnecting solutions available,” said Prusinski. “Fiber-optic interconnecting technology will continue to grow, and end-user awareness will drive the need to provide it. Manufacturing companies such as Fire-Lite and West Penn are committed to fiber optics, and will continue to develop fiber products, service and support.”

Let’s check out the benefits of fiber-optic cabled systems. They are:

  • Extremely durable: Their tensile strength is greater than steel.
  • Low-profile: Each strand of fiber is smaller than a human hair.
  • Nonconductive: These systems are immune to lightning, ground faults and power surges.
  • “Unlimited” in bandwidth: The longest transmission line to date is 9,000 miles, and a single optical fiber can carry 3 million voice calls.
  • Secure: Unlike copper, fiber systems are “hack proof.” Fiber offers the highest level of security.

What’s more, Prusinski addressed the myth that fiber termination should be left for specialists. In the past, users needed to strip, measure, cut and polish the end of the cable. However, now there are specialized tools and kits that eliminate a lot of this hands-on work.

This is only a sample of what Prusinski explored during the Fire-Lite Alarms webinar. Click here to check out the webinar in full.

Want more information on fiber? Join us for our next webinar (Tuesday, July 28 @ 11am) – Register Here!

 

About the Author
Elizabeth Richards is the Manager of Communications for Fire-Lite Alarms, Honeywell Power and Silent Knight. Liz joined Honeywell Fire Systems in 2003 and is responsible for the communications, collateral, messaging, and events for all three brands.

 

Top 3 Reasons to Monitor Fire Alarms over GSM or IP – A Central Station Perspective

It’s amazing how dramatically our industry has changed in just the last few years. As plain old telephone systems (POTS) gradually go extinct, new technologies, including IP and GSM, are making their mark on the fire alarm and security market. And I for one am excited for the future.

A bit about how I became such a supporter of GSM and IP: I’ve been a Honeywell dealer for years, working with many different Fire-Lite technologies. When Honeywell created AlarmNet, I was excited about the possibilities—especially since phone companies had long been talking about the inevitable death of POTS. We learned about GSM through its connection with AlarmNet, and for the most part, we’ve used GSM (often with an IP back-up) for all our fire alarm systems even since. I’m also in the process of converting our burglar alarms to GSM as well.

At Diamond Communications, Inc., we encourage our customers to use GSM or a combination of GSM and IP for alarm communications, and I believe many dealers can benefit from doing the same. From my perspective, there are three main reasons to monitor over GSM and/or IP:

1. Reliability is maximized.
In my experience of operating the Diamond Communications, Inc., Central Station, GSM is the most reliable method available today. Phone lines can easily go down, and even internet connectivity is spotty in some areas. To ensure the most reliable monitoring connection, we encourage our customers to go the GSM route, with IP as an optional back-up.

In addition to improved reliability, GSM pings the central station hourly, signaling that the system is working as it should. POTS lines send a signal only once every 24 hours. For POTS customers, their system could be down for a full day without them knowing, leaving them vulnerable to unreported fire.

2. Your customers save money every month.
Here’s another compelling reason for your customers to embrace GSM and IP: It can save them a significant amount of money. For two dedicated POTS lines, many of my customers in California were paying the phone company approximately $100-$120 a month. But GSM does away with that cost altogether, saving each customer approximately 50 percent per month. Over the life of a system, that difference adds up quickly.

3. Security is improved.
Traditional POTS lines can easily be cut or tampered with. And since POTS systems only communicate with the central station every 24 hours, a line could be down for a while before a problem is detected.

However, GSM and IP do away with these types of security concerns, since there is no physical wire to be cut.

 

Looking to the Future
The transition from POTS to GSM and IP is the biggest change in the industry since communicators were invented. GSM and IP are the next step forward, which is why we’re enthusiastic about offering the technology to our customers and letting them know how it can benefit them.

In my experience, a GSM is more reliable especially given the fact that the technology is more reliable, secure and can save them money. So if you’re looking to transition your fire alarm customers to GSM, be sure to really highlight these differentiators. You might be surprised at how much your business benefits.

 

 

About the Author
Michael Tarin is the President of Diamond Communications, Inc., based in Madera, Calif. Founded in 1968 with a focus on electrical work, Diamond Communications, Inc., has since transitioned into fire alarm and security technology. The company has its own Central Station and provides installation, service and monitoring for fire alarm and security systems. Since receiving National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET) certification, Diamond Communications, Inc., also designs and engineers fire alarm systems.

Lite-Connect Obtains FM & FDNY Approvals

Fire-Lite’s new Lite-Connect solution now has Factory Mutual (FM) and FDNY approvals! These approvals will allow you to use Lite-Connect in more places and applications.

Lite-Connect is a solution that allows building owners reduce the number of phone lines by consolidating the central station communications to a single MS-9050UD fire alarm control panel. Using fiber-optic technology, the panels are connected together and the MS-9050UD sends point or zone information to the Central Station for the entire system. In addition, building to building connections with fiber-optic cable avoids potential ground fault issues and damage caused by lightning strikes.

With Lite-Connect you can:
• Reduce Callbacks
• Consolidate Phone Lines
• Improve First Responder Response
• Streamline Central Station Reporting

Learn more about Lite-Connect by watching a 2 minute video and by visiting our website.

 

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.

Campus-wide Pride: Making University Fire Safety a Priority

For facility managers and technicians at college campuses across the U.S., my story might be somewhat familiar. I came to the University of North Georgia nine years ago and took on a daunting task: Fix the campus’ broken fire safety protocol, standardize its numerous devices and systems, and do away with its long-standing tradition of twice-weekly (or more) false alarms. The safety of our students, faculty and staff depended on it.

Much like other higher education campuses, the University of North Georgia had, over the years, adopted a hodgepodge of various fire alarm systems – mostly, just stand-alone, local systems in each building that used proprietary devices. The campus had never undergone NFPA 72 inspections, so every system was in various stages of non-compliance. And not surprisingly, we had ongoing problems with faulty and unreliable technology.

We had developed a nasty reputation for frequent false alarms, and with good reason: The local fire department was called to campus for a false alarm two to three times a week. Eventually, Lumpkin County, where the campus is located, passed a false alarm ordinance. By that point, our students were so desensitized to false fire alarms that some would remain in the building when an alarm sounded. Of course, there’s no way to tell a false alarm from a legitimate one, and these students were endangering themselves every time they chose to stay put.

Troubled by the state of fire safety at UNG, I made it my personal mission to standardize all devices under one non-proprietary brand – and to do away with false alarms altogether.

A Nine-Year Challenge
My first step in bring UNG’s fire system up-to-date was to get administration buy-in. Many stakeholders simply didn’t realize the importance of fire safety – not to mention how much money the school was wasting in false alarm fees and proprietary system upkeep.

In the end, the opportunity to ensure student safety and save money captured everyone’s attention. We’re located about 70 miles north of Atlanta, and we were being charged a fortune in system maintenance and troubleshooting fees. With the existing proprietary systems, though, we were locked in – we couldn’t have used another technician if we wanted to.

That’s why early in my career at UNG I pledged to transition to a 100 percent Fire-Lite solution on campus. I had worked with Fire-Lite systems before, and I knew that UNG needed fire alarm technology that was easy to use, easy to maintain and, more importantly, integrated across the entire campus.

 A Campus-wide Solution
I started working with non-proprietary systems in the late 1980s, so I know first-hand how reliable and user-friendly certain manufacturers’ systems can be. Now that UNG is 100 percent non-proprietary, we’ve decreased false alarms by 99.9 percent. And on top of that, our maintenance and service calls are much easier and faster now.

Our campus officers are trained on the non-proprietary systems, so they can reset any panel on campus. If we need parts or service, we can call any certified fire alarm installer: no more exorbitant travel fees from proprietary techs in Atlanta.

For example, recently one of our dorms was struck by lightning during a storm. Since I have every panel downloaded on my laptop, I was able to have the building back up within about three hours. With other systems, it might have been down for days at a time – which is simply unacceptable in the college campus environment.

We also are one of the only campuses in the university system with our own central station. We monitor all of our own fire systems on campus; when an alarm sounds, the building is evacuated and public safety officers are dispatched to assess the situation. Then, they decide whether to call the fire department. Because the contact ID tells operators the exact location of the situation, officers are able to respond quickly and effectively. And our campus is better protected than ever before.

Although not every campus can establish its own central station, in our case doing our own monitoring works well and has saved us money in the long run. For most campuses, though, a great first step would be to assess your fire alarm systems and consider how you might be able to streamline them over time. Look into highly reliable, easy-to-use and non-proprietary solutions, which will be easier and less expensive to maintain. And all the while, keep in mind the end goal: to protect students, faculty and staff through a comprehensive fire safety protocol.

About the Author
Kim Harris is the Electronic Systems Technician at the University of North Georgia and has more than 30 years of experience working with fire alarm systems.

For more information on the products and services offered by Fire-Lite Alarms visit: www.firelite.com

A New Horizon for Fire Alarm Dealers – and End Users

One of the things I’ve always admired about the fire alarm industry is the fact that it is constantly evolving. We continually have opportunities to better protect life and property, and every year exciting new methods emerge to do just that.

Take, for example, one of Fire-Lite’s newest innovations, the Lite-Connect multi-mode fiber solution. This product enables fire alarm installers to join as many as 16 remote panels together over fiber-optic cable. Previously, multiple buildings were linked with copper through several connections, which limited reliability and caused issues with upkeep. Now the fire alarm control panels can report to a central monitoring station as one system, making schools, apartment buildings, nursing homes and retail complexes ideal for Lite-Connect.

So what does this type of unified system mean for dealers, installers and end users? Let’s take a look at some of the benefits:

Lower communications costs.
The centralized reporting method saves end users money by eliminating significant telecommunications costs that are traditionally associated with communicating signals from each individual panel.

Improved emergency response.
When a Lite-Connect system sends an alert to the central station, the information reported contains actual point or zone information for all event types. This gives first responders and service providers a better understanding of the issue and where it is located – before they even arrive on the scene.

A competitive edge.
This type of system also provides dealers with a competitive advantage. For any job involving two or more panels, Lite-Connect offers dealers the chance to provide a lower-cost, non-proprietary system with the highest level of protection and dependability available. Previously, this type of solution was only available for single-unit facilities using proprietary systems.

Protection against electrical damage.
With multiple panels connected through fiber-optic cable, each end user’s system is now less susceptible to damage from transient power surges. Unlike traditional panels using copper connectors, Lite-Connect uses multi-mode fiber-optic cable, which protects all control panels from common ground faults and electrical surges caused by lightning. As a result, the end user can rest easy knowing that their system is better protected, and their fire alarm dealer receives fewer call-backs for those types of power issues (which, in turn, saves the end user money).

Simple, more robust installations.
For multi-unit facilities, Lite-Connect provides a simple, more efficient install. Any combination of up to 16 MS-9050UD and MS-9200UDLS remote fire alarm control panels can be connected via fiber and report out all signals through an MS-9050UD as the “main” panel. As a result, the system can be customized specifically for the end user’s needs.

Lite-Connect is just the latest step in the evolution of fire detection. With each new innovation, we find ourselves a little closer to eliminating fire-related deaths in commercial buildings. I for one look forward to seeing how technology will continue to improve with each coming year.

 About the Author
Dave Pakech is the Vice President of Sales for the SED Channel – Fire-Lite Alarms, Honeywell Power and Silent Knight. He joined Honeywell Fire Systems in 2008 and brings over 20 years of Security Industry experience to the brands.

 

 

 

 

 

Hello? Your Customer’s Building is Calling

Many electrical contractors speak of the glory days when new construction was booming and there was plenty of work to go around. Those of us who have been in this industry for a while know there is always a cyclical nature to the construction industry. The key to riding through these ebbs and flows lies in finding ways to produce continuous growth and, at the same time, closely manage your monthly cash flow.

During a new construction project, once all systems are inspected and turned over to the owner, the electrical contractor’s minimum responsibilities are to warranty the installation for the next 12 months. In the meantime, they start hunting for a new project. But what happens to the building’s systems going forward? If you’re not offering ongoing testing and inspection services, you’re leaving a lot of money on the table.

Our Unique Industry
The fire alarm market may not be exactly “inflation-proof,” but it does lead the industry with multiple ways to offer growth. The fire alarm field even offers a healthy profit margin in the face of a slow construction cycle.

Our industry is also the most proactive in ensuring that systems are maintained and operating at peak performance, well in advance of a breakdown. Various legislation and codes, including NFPA 72, ensure that all systems are monitored, inspected and tested on a regular basis. Again, this is not an option on the part of the owner: It’s the law.

The Key to Continual Profits
For all fire alarm customers, testing and inspection is required annually, quarterly or even monthly – depending on the use of the facility and the local ordinances. Can you think of another system that requires the contractor to come back to the building periodically to ensure equipment performance? For an electrical contractor, no other system reaches out and says, “Come fix me.” The owner is required to invest in that recurring service.

As a well-qualified electrical professional, you have an opportunity to earn significant income by providing testing and inspection services to your existing customers. Plus, you can earn a wealth of other opportunities from these visits. This ongoing relationship is a true collaborative effort between you and your customer, leading to a stronger, more constant customer base.

Additional Sources of Revenue
Not only are you paid for testing and inspection visits; each one could potentially lead to additional work. For example, as you arrive for your fire alarm inspection, you notice that the parking lot lights are on at 10 am. Being well versed in energy efficient lighting, you could take this opportunity to tell your customer about the savings and rebates available for LED lighting. Have you discussed back-up generators with them? Do they need any repairs done while you’re there? The opportunities are everywhere.

Fire alarm monitoring service offers another potential source of revenue for electrical contractors. Most commercial fire alarm systems in the U.S. are required to be monitored 24 hours a day. They are connected either by traditional telephone lines, IP or cellular. Monitoring service is typically provided by the installing contractor, who simply sub-contracts to a third party (a UL-listed monitoring company) and then charges the building owner appropriately. These fees can typically be $35 to $75 per month and offer a 50 to 80 percent margin. Since this is an automatic service, if a device in the building is not responding, who do they call? You.

As you can see, the opportunities for recurring revenue are there. So, the next time you’re talking about the good old days of non-stop construction and you have several employees doing busy work in the shop, remember this: Your customer’s building is calling. Is there anyone home?

About the Author
Steve McCurdy is Director of Business Development at Fire-Lite Alarms by Honeywell.​

 

Dialing-in a New Central Monitoring Station

What information is needed to program a fire alarm control panel (FACP) to a new central station?

The first piece of information that is needed is the model of the fire panel.  This is located on the front door of the fire alarm control panel box. This will aide in navigating through the menu structure to enter your new central station information. All of our product manuals are located online if you need a refresher on dialer programming, located at http://www.firelite.com/en-US/Pages/Category.aspx?cat=HLS-FIRELITE&category=Products).

Now that you know how to program, what information do you need to make the change?

The central station needs to provide you with the new account number, two phone numbers to dial and reporting format to correctly dial and send signals to their receivers. It is good practice to know whether the phones lines connected to the FACP need to dial a prefix to dial out (examples include dialing a 1, or a 9 to get an outside line), or if they are some type of VOIP, Cable or DSL lines as they may cause issues with communicating correctly. Contacting their local phone service provider may help aide in troubleshooting communication issues.

For troubleshooting help for our FACPs, see our online videos on YouTube and the dialer programming video is located at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7e-Gudojhc

 

About the Authors
Jason Knowlton is a NICET Level II Technical Support Team Leader for Honeywell Fire Systems. He has over 12 years of experience in technical support of fire alarm systems and is the technical lead for all IP based Honeywell fire products and solutions.

Daniel Gellatly is a NICET Level 1 Technical Support for Honeywell Fire Systems. He has 10 years of experience in technical support of fire alarm control panels includes software support  for upload/download on all Fire-Lite products.

Industry Forecast: 2014 a Year of Growth

Let’s all get ready to leave the last few years in the dust.

As we prepare for the year ahead, several factors and trends are influencing the fire alarm industry that promise to make 2014 a year of growth and forward momentum. While commercial construction has been gradually stabilizing over the last several years, 2014 is predicted to yield growth in multiple segments. As economic uncertainty wanes and the U.S. GDP is bolstered, non-residential construction projects are expected to increase between 7 and 9 percent this year—primarily in retail, hospitality, education and healthcare—with double-digit growth expected in commercial and multi-family dwelling construction.

This flurry of construction will directly impact the fire alarm industry, thanks in part to the following emerging trends:

New emergency communication demands. Emergency communication is becoming a huge driver of growth for the fire alarm industry. These systems go beyond fire detection to encompass any emergency, such as severe weather, harmful gas, terrorism and active shooters. Emergency communication systems are being added to both new construction and existing buildings where a fire alarm system already exists. The technology is expected to experience the most progress in retail, office, hospitality, education and healthcare facilities—all of which will see construction growth in 2014.

Advanced detection requirements. A growing number of states and municipalities are adopting stricter advanced detection requirements for fire alarm systems. For example, recent code changes are requiring many buildings to have carbon monoxide detection, along with traditional smoke detection, in a much broader range of applications. These new requirements are primarily affecting the hospitality, education, multi-family and healthcare industries, and will help to strengthen the fire alarm industry this year and beyond.

Modern central station communications. Another driver of the fire alarm industry growth this year will be the need for many facilities to modernize their central station communications. As traditional POTS lines are phased out, central stations are required to provide monitoring through IP or cellular lines. These alternative communication methods are helping to grow this industry segment as a whole, which in turn helps to increase fire and life safety sales.

While these new growth opportunities come with their own challenges and learning curves, they represent a substantial opportunity for years into the future. Let’s embrace the possibilities in 2014 and beyond.

To request more information on any of the above technologies,contact us​.

 

About the Author:
Dave Pakech is the Vice President of Sales for Fire-Lite Alarms and Honeywell Power. He joined Fire-Lite Alarms and Honeywell Power in 2008 and brings over 20 years of Security Industry experience to both brands.​