Get the Word Out

Life safety strengthened with layered communications

  • Local Operating Console (LOC) – Section “Mass notification systems shall include a system operating console(s) for authorized occupants to readily access and originate messages in emergency situations.”
  • Autonomous Control Unit (ACU) - Section “the building autonomous control unit shall monitor and control the notification appliance network.” At the ACU, authorized personnel can initiate delivery of pre-recorded voice messages, provide live voice messages and instructions, and initiate visual strobe and alphanumeric message notification appliances.
  • Fire Alarm Control Interface – Section “Where a fire alarm system is installed covering all or part of the same building or other area as the mass notification system, an interface shall be provided between the systems for operational coordination purposes.” This connection will allow the ECS to override fire alarm audio and visual notification appliances.
  • Interface to Other Systems and Alerting Sources – A variety of systems that “shall be permitted” to interface or connect with an ECS/MNS are discussed throughout the latest Chapter 12 draft, including air handling control, door control, elevator controls, public address systems and wide-area (outdoor) notification systems.
  • Notification Appliance Network – This network consists of a set of audio speakers, strobes, and text signs (when required) that are located to alert occupants and provide intelligible voice and visual instructions. A number of these devices must be installed in adherence to ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements too.

In conformance with the latest draft of 2010 NFPA 72 codes, manufacturers like Gamewell-FCI have developed high-tech, low-cost combination fire alarm/ECS solutions for new construction and renovation applications.

Beth Welch is the manager of public relations for Gamewell-FCI, Northford, Conn., part of Honeywell Fire Systems.


MNS and ECS Resources

These companies offer mass notification and emergency communications:

This list is based on independent research by SD&I magazine and may not be all-inclusive.



AtHoc Inc.—

Cooper Notification—





Federal Signal—

Fire-Lite Alarms—


Honeywell (REACT partnership)—

Inova Solutions--

King-Fisher Company—

MadahCom Inc.--

3n (National Notification Network) —


Potter Electric Signal Co—

Signal Communications Corp.—

Simplex Grinnell—

Spacenet Inc.—

STI (Safety Technology International)—

SWN Communications (Send Word Now)—


TOA Electronics Inc.—