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Comments on Dealer needs fire alarm advice for communication options
March 11, 2022
Comments on Dealer needs fire alarm advice from article on February 26, 2022
            In the February 26 2022 article the alarm dealer asked about alternative communication for a fire alarm. 
            " ... small Historical building with a Commercial Fire alarm in it.  My problem is that the only communication that is available are 2 POTS lines. (Plain Old Telephone Service); FIOS and Cellular are not available. We are having frequent telephone line trouble.  Cable is available but I don’t believe that VOIP is approved for Commercial Fire alarms. Any suggestions?  Bruce"
            Thanks to all the experts who took the time to respond and offer their solutions.
            Please advise Bruce that NAPCO’s economical StarLink fire cellular communicators have dual antennas and range boost circuitry for performance in fringe areas. No other radio on the market works for such long distances like StarLinks.  Also, NAPCO makes an extended range plug in remote antenna that even extends the radios range to extreme range.
Hope this helps.
Richard L. Soloway
President & CEO
NAPCO Security Technologies, Inc.
            Cable is not necessarily "VOIP".  For example Comcast is an MFVN provider and that is approved by NFPA 72 for fire alarm communications.  Bruce didn't say where he is, but he should verify with the cable company that they are indeed an MFVN provider, as most are.  Comcast (my employer) is wherever we provide service.
Roy Pollack, CPP SET
Director of Licensing & Training Compliance
Comcast / Xfinity Home / SmartOffice
            In response to Bruce, the gent with the historical building and failing POTS lines.  He states cable is available – cable can provide an internet connection.  There are numerous options available to transmit supervised fire alarm signals over the internet and not using dialers or VoIP I am familiar with Honeywell-Resideo and DMP – both have Listed fire transmitters for use over the internet.  There are many other IP options available.
Considering that the Telcos in the US are phasing out POTS lines, it is time for Bruce to move into the current century.
Dave Currie
Damar Security Systems
            In reference to the dealer looking for advice on fire alarm communication methods:
We have been using AES 2 way mesh radios for over 10 years. If that technology is available at his central station I would highly recommend it. The savings to the customer is huge also because of the phone line costs. Not only the savings but you won't have to upgrade the cellular radio every few years as technology changes.
Greg Smizer, President
Sprint Security Inc
            If someone asks a question like that they shouldn't be installing fire alarm systems.
            Your response about contacting the fire marshal (or appropriate AHJ) was a good one. However, how could a system be approved if it wasn't connected? 
            AES is an approved method of transmitting fire alarm signals. However, since it's a "mesh" network (all AES radios on that network working together) you can't just add one transmitter unless there is a network in place. It's possible a wholesale monitoring company would be in this dealer's area but if it's really a rural area, the odds are AES wouldn't be there. Not cost effective.
            You can transmit signals over the internet. Since there is cable in the area there should also be internet. Not sure whether the local jurisdiction permits internet only, but, if there's no other method, the local AHJ could accept it.
            And where is this that the only method to transmit signals is over POTS lines?   Remember, just because you have POTS lines to your home or business doesn't mean you have true POTS service. Once the "call" gets to the local exchange (for lack of a better term) it is generally changed to VoIP (voice over internet protocol). 
And to confuse you even more, VoIP is approved for fire but it needs to be over a MFVN (managed facilities voice network) to make sure the network mirrors POTS.
           In the OLD days of McCulloh, Direct Wire and even multiplex, the alarm company paid for the lines or "leased lines." When digital communicators came in during the 1970s, alarm companies used the customers phone line to transmit (if the person was on a call it would "seize" the line) and the alarm company saved the leased line cost.
          When digital communicators became approved for fire alarm signal transmission in the early 1980s, two phone lines were needed (provided by the customer) and the alarm company no longer had to pay for phone lines.               
             A great savings for many years. However, once customers wanted more line security instead of just POTS lines, cellular started and the cost went to the alarm company. The good news is that for fire alarm customers, while the cost to provide internet (usually provided by the customer) and cellular may be more costly for the alarm monitoring service from the alarm company, the customer saves the cost of two phone lines making any conversion costs recovered quickly. 

Richard Kleinman

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