Phone Lines and Your Fire Alarm System

By  Brian Arenofsky

Traditionally a fire alarm system in a commercial building that required monitoring at a central station required 2 telephone lines, one of which had to be dedicated to the fire alarm system only.  The second line which was for redundancy could be a shared house line or fax line.

As traditional copper phone lines also known as (POTS) lines which stands for plain old telephone system started disappearing in lieu of fiber optics, fire alarm manufacturers were faced with a dilemma.  The systems were designed to monitor the voltage that was sent over the copper wire to insure the integrity of the phone line.  Unfortunately fiber carries no voltage so the systems would start to inconsistently start to send intermittent trouble signals.  This as you probably know is quite a nuisance for the tenants who have to hear the trouble sounder somewhere in the building and even more so for the property manager who has to respond to the sight to determine the problem.

And now the battle begins.  The property manager calls the alarm company who send out a technician to determine the issue.  You are told that the fire alarm system is fine and to call the phone company who in turn tells you to call the alarm company.  You are now a part of the most frequent catch 22 in the fire alarm industry.

So what is the solution?  You have no choice but to make a change as the latest fire codes accepted in NJ do not allow for the use of POTS lines any longer.

The choices you have and my opinions of them are as follows.

You can install a cellular dialer as the primary form of communication and with the proper amount of daily test signals this will be acceptable to replace the phone lines.  The down sides to cellular are many.  Just think how many times you went to make a call and for whatever reason, all of a sudden you have no cell service in a location that you knew always had service.  The reason typically is that the cell provider will shut down towers for periodic maintenance and they don’t have to let anyone know.  The other more troubling reason that we don’t install cellular communicators is the cell company’s habit of sun setting technology.  All of us at one time or another had a 2G phone and then you got a letter from your provider telling you that you had to trade in your phone for a 3G or now a 4G phone.  Fire alarms were affected the same way.  The alarm company had to sell you the newest technology and this will occur again when 4G goes away and the next latest and greatest technology takes over.

You could also install an IP communicator with a cell for backup, but considering how many times you lose internet service I won’t even delve any further into this solution.  You can probably realize the unreliability without my explaining the down falls of this solution.

So you may be asking so what is the best solution.  The answer is an AES Fire Radio.  This is a technology that was developed for the military to rapidly deploy radio networks in the field and not have to worry about lost signals or dropping data.  AES then took this technology to our industry.  The beauty is that in the 7 years that we have been building our radio network, which is now well over 700 radio transceivers, the radios we installed at the beginning are the same transmitters that we install today.  AES has made every product 100% backward compatible.  As they have improved and modernized the product they have insured that everything already installed will continue to operate as well as it did the day it was installed.

With our AES radios you have a single source provider from your location to the central station.  No third party cell carriers, no third party network operations center.  No points of failure to jeopardize your property.  Only our radios retransmitting all of your signals on a private FCC licensed radio network.

Brian Arenofsky is a Sales Manager with BH Security.  BH Security was incorporated in 1979 to provide security and life safety solutions to the New Jersey and Metro New York area. Since its inception, over 35 years ago this family owned and operated company has developed a reputation for professionalism and reliability. Brian can be reached via phone at (908)277-0070 or via email at barenofsky@bhsecurityonline.com

 

 

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