It's Here!

Convergence in fire alarm and IP technology has arrived


When using remote diagnostics, there may have to be a higher degree of coordination for allowing the systems service provider access through firewalls and to ensure that an open door is not left into other aspects of the owner's IT system.

While the date has not yet been verified, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has begun the discussion to determine when POTS will no longer be a valid form of communication in the U.S. Some dates have been as early as 2014 in recent reports.

The demise of POTS

With new construction in some service areas, it is becoming more difficult to have POTS lines 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.

IP Fire Communicator

Pluses:
- Cost savings
- Remote diagnostics

Challenges:
- Greater coordination required
- Understand IT standards and practices
- Power backup for IT components

Dave Miller, SET is a principal with and leads the Fire/Life Safety practice for True System Designers Ltd. (www.trusys.com). 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 dave.miller@trusys.com or 503-537-9200.