Tag Archives: POTS

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.

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.

The Year in Review: 2014 Exceeds Early Expectations

Much of the growth Fire-Lite Alarms experienced this year closely paralleled overall industry trends in major segments.

So before we kick off another fantastic year in the fire alarm market, let’s consider some of the biggest milestones of 2014:

Growth in most segments
2014 might have started off slow due to a severe winter across the U.S., but the construction market really took off in April. Given the late start, we’ve been enjoying an extended construction season, and that has helped lead the industry to a strong close to 2014. We saw above-market growth in most segments, and I expect the year to wind up exceeding our original forecasts.

Several new growth drivers
Fire-Lite is seeing an upsurge in two main areas – emergency communication and modern central station communications. These trends are helping to grow the industry as a whole, and likely will continue through next year as well:
Emergency communication has become a huge boon for the fire alarm industry. These systems offer notification for any emergency, such as severe weather, harmful gas, terrorism and active shooters, and are growing in popularity for both new construction and existing buildings where a fire alarm system already exists.
• Modern central station communications through IP and cellular are replacing the use of traditional POTS lines at an increasing rate. These alternative communication methods are helping grow this industry segment, which in-turn helps increase fire and life safety sales.

New Technology
In 2014, we introduced several revolutionary new products that are certainly milestones for our industry:
Fire-Lite Alarms Smart Wireless Integrated Fire Technology (SWIFT) – a line of wireless fire detectors and modules. This Class A, commercial wireless system uses a robust mesh network to integrate with existing fire systems so installers can use any combination of traditional and wireless fire alarm technology that works for a given facility. The result is an unprecedented level of flexibility in devices that are also highly scalable, reliable and easy to install.
Lite-Connect – a multi-building fiber solution that provides an easy and more flexible way to connect fire alarms. The product enables fire alarm installers to join as many as 16 remote control panels together over fiber-optic cable—ideal for multiple building locations, such as schools, apartment buildings, nursing homes and retail complexes.
• Honeywell Power HP1205UL and HP1210UL Power Supplies – deliver more DC power to CCTV cameras and their peripheral devices, while also speeding up installation and service calls and maximizing the survivability of system operations when a facility’s AC power is lost.

All of these exciting advancements allowed Fire-Lite Alarms to enjoy substantial growth this year, along with much of the rest of the industry.

Thank you for your part in our success. Together, we look forward to a fantastic 2015 and beyond.

 

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.

Building on Your Experience: The Pros and Cons of Negotiated Work

As we explored in a recent blog post, bid work and negotiated work can play a vital role in a fire alarm installer’s business. Both approaches have their own challenges and opportunities, each of which an installer will have to take into consideration throughout his or her career.

To help you weigh your options, let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of negotiated work, as well as some strategies you can use to acquire more negotiated work.

Pros and Cons
With negotiated work, dealers are working directly with the building owner to establish the terms, budget and timetable of a given project. This direct relationship can be very beneficial to dealers because, unlike in bid work, the lowest price doesn’t often come into play. Rather than price guiding the project, it’s the established relationship between the end user and the dealer that provides the opportunity here. The more happy customers you have, the more negotiated work you’re likely to secure.

Another positive aspect of negotiated work is the fact that dealers are still connected to each system long after the install. Since you’re working directly with the building owner, you’re well-positioned to offer ongoing service and support following a negotiated bid project.

Finally, negotiated work is not as connected to the ebbs and flows of the construction market. Since these projects come from your existing customer base, rather than new builds, the work is available at any time. This makes negotiated work a strong source of continual income.

One of the challenges of negotiated work, which some may see as a con, is that it requires installers to be a “jack of all trades.” While bid work is often siloed by system – e.g., fire alarm, access control, telephony – negotiated work often involves a little of everything for a given customer. Although some may view this as a negative, I’ve always thought it was a positive. A wide variety of negotiated work bolsters your portfolio, which will only lead to more opportunities in the future.

Find More Negotiated Work
Most negotiated work comes from your existing customer base, so every successful install could lead to additional projects. You already have a relationship established with your customers; here is your opportunity to build upon it.

Reach out to your existing customers every quarter or twice a year to offer additional or updated services. Whether you work with telephony, electrical or access control technology, make them aware that you offer more than just security systems. You have the rare opportunity to save your customers money or provide them improved service. Don’t miss out on it.

Here are a few ideas for finding negotiated work opportunities in your existing customer base:

  • Ask, “Do you know we offer superior fire alarm monitoring that beats your current rate?”
  • Find out if they have carbon monoxide detectors. If not, make sure they know about CO requirements.
  • When fire alarm codes change in your area, contact each customer to inform them of any vulnerabilities and liabilities. Help them upgrade their system and stay in compliance.
  • Offer to upgrade their phone lines to GSM or IP – a proposition that could save your customers up to $200 a month by eliminating third-party phone company fees.
  • As customers approach the end of their service agreements, contact them and offer to upgrade their systems. This is a perfect opportunity to secure a new contract, which is a win-win for you and the customer.

Installers who make negotiated work an ongoing part of their business are well-positioned to create a strong, consistent cash flow. If you’ve operated primarily in the bid market up until now, this is the chance to start focusing on your customer relationships and putting them to work for your business.

 

About the Author
John Maccone is the director of sales for Fire-Lite Alarms at Honeywell. An industry veteran, John has worked in the industry for 35 years and with Honeywell for 14. In his role, John serves as the lead representative of the Fire-Lite/Silent Knight and Honeywell Power brands to the corporate offices of the nation’s leading and largest installation, service and monitoring providers.

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.

Communicating from a Distance: Fire Alarm Upload/Download

Fire-Lite Alarms offers the capability to transfer data to and from most of its fire alarm control panels for convenient setup or troubleshooting. Typical applications include downloading configuration data to a panel for a new installation, and uploading data from an existing panel to view status, buffer history or capture existing panel configuration files.Honeywell

There are a few different ways to connect to a Fire-Lite panel for local programming as described below:

  • Local connection to the Fire Alarm panel using a serial communications port or a USB port
  • Remote connectivity to the Fire Alarm panel’s DACT over phone lines
  • Remote connectivity to the Fire Alarm panel over IP when using the IPDACT and the Teldat Visor Alarm Receiver

How To
When performing an upload or download to a fire alarm panel, Fire-Lite’s PS-Tools programming software automatically configures a computer’s serial or USB port settings so it can communicate to the fire panel. If a serial communication interface is required to make a connection to the panel and the installer has a laptop that is not equipped with a serial port, Fire-Lite tech support can provide a list of compatible serial-to-USB converters that can be used. Once the connection is made, the installer can begin communicating with the panel to start the programming or troubleshooting process as needed.

Having the capability to check the system status of a panel and read the buffer history remotely can help make troubleshooting faster and allow an installer to bring the right tools or equipment to the job. When connecting to a fire panel from an off-site location over phone lines, Fire-Lite’s Upload/Download software kit  (PK-CD) is required along with a computer running Windows® XP or greater. Fire-Lite Alarms specifically recommends using the US Robotics 56K USB Modem, Model Number USR5637 to successfully dial into the fire alarm panel and perform an upload or download as needed. Typical upload or download speeds vary based on baud rates and the type of fire alarm control panel that an installer is connecting to.

Connectivity Over IP

In addition to having the capability for remote upload/download over phone lines, Fire-Lite Alarms also offers connectivity over IP when using the IPDACT and Teldat’s VisorAlarm Plus receiver. A typical configuration for utilizing this feature is a local computer running PS-Tools that is connected to the serial ports of a VisorAlarm Plus receiver. The serial ports (VA-UD) on the receiver will emulate a modem that is being connected to the local computer and will allow the PS-Tools configuration software to capture data remotely through the IPDACT from the fire alarm control panel. This configuration helps provide the same remote connectivity to a fire alarm panel, but instead utilizes the internet to move data between the panel and the computer with the PS-Tools software.

One thing to keep in mind is that most codes require an Installer to be on site if there are any changes to the fire-alarm system programming. Be sure to check with your local AHJ to make sure that those requirements are met.

In a world that is becoming more connected, there are a few different options for transferring data to and from your fire panel locally or remotely. Deciding which technology to use is the first step in utilizing Fire-Lite’s advanced Upload/Download capabilities to help reduce installation and service time on a job.

 

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.

 

Are POTS going OUT? Changes in Code Create Changes in Communications

Commercial Fire Alarm communication has stayed relatively the same for over 35 years but recently has been undergoing a fundamental technology change as the legacy POTS.  (Plain Old Telephone Service) infrastructure gets more expensive to maintain and service. Some of the larger telecommunications companies (such as AT&T) have already made reference that a sunset of the POTS network can begin as early as 2016. So what does that mean for the future of Fire Alarm communications? Well, there are many communication options available in the market today that will meet UL ,ULC and NFPA 72 requirements. Products such as the IPGSM-4G and IPGSM-4GC from Honeywell Power can easily be installed to replace legacy POTS lines with minimal installation and configuration required. When installing these types of Fire communicators it is very important to understand how each product’s technology works and their relation to NFPA 72 requirements.

For many years, legacy POTS communication using a DACT (Digital Alarm Communicator Transmitter) required both primary and secondary phone lines to communicate to a central station. Later versions of NFPA 72 (such as the 2010 standard) helped clarify the acceptance of alternative forms of communications. Chapter 26, Section 26.6.3.1.4.2 states Where two or more different technologies are used, the following requirements shall be met: (1) Provision shall be made to monitor the integrity of each communications path.(2) Failure of any communications path shall be annunciated at the supervising station and at the protected premises within not more than 24 hours of -the failure”. In addition, NFPA 72 2010 also helped clarify the ability to use a single technology to be used for Fire Alarm communication. Chapter 26, Section 26.6.3.1.4.1 states that “Where only one communications technology is used, any failure of the communications path shall be annunciated at the supervising station within 5 minutes of the failure.” NFPA 72 2013 Chapter 26 section 26.6.3.1.5 goes a step further to loosen the supervision requirements for a single communications technology from every five minutes to every 60 minutes. In addition, Chapter 26 section 26.6.3.1.6 tightens the requirements for multiple communication paths from every 24 hours to every 6 hours.

Keep in mind that not every jurisdiction is quick to adopt the newest NFPA 72 standards as the local AHJ’s still have the final say. With the future of the POTS infrastructure more in question then ever and the potential to save thousands of dollars by using newer and more reliable technologies, it is imperative to have a good understanding of the local codes. Also being able to provide AHJs with any relevant documentation for approval will help you stay on the forefront of this technology shift while also being able to capture a savings on monthly monitoring costs.  

 

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.