It’s Here!

IP fire alarm communications

With new construction in some service areas, it is becoming more difficult to have POTS line installed. With the proliferation of VOIP for standard business phone use, the handwriting is on the wall, POTS will end in the foreseeable future.

IP fire alarm communicators will save the system owner money by sparing them the costs of the POTS lines and by potential savings in service calls. There is an advantage to the system service provider in that they can be more responsive and flexible in their ability to remotely diagnose system issues for the owner.

This will not be without its issues for the fire systems service provider. They will be required to have a higher degree of coordination to ensure the IP service is available when needed for acceptance testing. These providers will need to increase their level of understanding of IT issues pertaining to firewall security and practices and to ensure that the remote connection is secure from tampering. Finally, they will need to be conversant in working with the owner to determine the level of power backup required for the IT components.

While there is a learning curve required for owners and systems providers, ultimately IP fire alarm communicators will be a win-win for all parties.

End notes

1. NFPA 72, 2007 – 8.6.4

2. NFPA 72, 2007 –

3. NFPA 72, 2007 –



Dave Miller, SET is a Principal with and leads the Fire/Life Safety practice for True System Designers Ltd. ( Dave has over 20 years of experience in a wide variety of fire/life safety applications, and provides NICET Fire Alarm exam preparation courses throughout the U.S. He is a regular contributor to the TRUSYS Institute. He can be reached at or 503-537-9200.


“There are two significant advantages to the use of IP communicators: reduction in operating costs and remote diagnostics.”

“The FCC has begun the discussion to determine when POTS will no longer be a valid form of communication in the U.S., some dates reported as early as 2014.”










[i] All references to NFPA 72 are to the 2007 Edition as it is currently more widely adopted than the 2010 Edition.



[ii] NFPA 72, 2007 – 8.6.4



[iii] NFPA 72, 2007 –



[iv] These comments are made from the perspective of small businesses or property owners who do not possess sophisticated IT practices or methodologies.



[v] Consult your legal advisor for specific language.



[vi] In the return on investment (ROI) example, the following assumptions are made:

  1. The school district already has IP connectivity in the schools and that the POTS are “dedicated.”
  2. The FACP, IP communicator and IP connection point are in relatively close proximity to minimize installation costs.
  3. There is no increase in cost for monitoring service or inspection and test services.
  4. The school district has sufficient backup power for the IP components.