Wireless Radio Technology Saves on Fire Alarm Monitoring Costs


There is a new and exciting technology on the market which will allow building owners and managers to save money on their monthly fire alarm system monitoring. In this economy having access to technologies which can lower operating costs while providing more efficient service can be a great asset. Wireless radio monitoring can provide exactly that.

Fire alarm panels/communicators have traditionally transmitted signals through telephone lines. Fire codes mandate that fire alarm systems use two (2) dedicated phone lines (primary and secondary) to transmit all fire alarm related signal. Two (2) separate telephone lines create redundancy, to ensure that fire alarm signals are transmitted in the event that one (1) of the telephone lines is out of service. Although it is necessary from a fire life safety standpoint, it forces owners and managers to not only incur the costs for the monitoring of the fire alarm system, but the monthly phone line costs as well. This has long been accepted as the industry standard, but wireless radio monitoring may provide some relief. 

This technology by the AES Corporation uses radio transceivers to transmit fire alarm signals to one of two IP Link Transceivers. The IP Link Transceivers then relay the fire alarm signal through an internet connection back to central station receivers. The IP Link Transceivers also utilizes a back-up telephone line in the event that internet connection is out of service. Each radio transceiver acts as a repeater, as more of these radio transceivers are put into service, a network (web) of radios is established. These radio networks are highly redundant, and capable of multiple paths back to the central receiver. This way if any one radio on the network is down for any reason, there is still a path available for the radio signal to travel. Typical signal transmission time for a standard slave dialer is around 30-45 seconds. Signal transmission time for a wireless radio dialer is 5-10 seconds. It is a much faster technology, which has the ability to save valuable time in the event of an emergency. The wireless network provides redundancy, reliability, and faster signal transmission than any wired technology. It is UL 864 Edition 9 listed, and NFPA approved.

Radio monitoring has been available for a few years now, but is only becoming widely utilized as of late. There are only a handful of companies in the Denver Metro area who have their own wireless networks up and running, and can provide a true proven signal path back to the IP Link Transceivers. Each vendor utilizing this technology must have their own network in place to prove to the local AHJ the radio signal path, and that each radio’s signal has the proper signal strength and network connectivity (NETCON) rating per U.L. standards. This information is critical in the proper administration and maintenance of their radio network. This information may also be needed to show the local authority having jurisdiction proof that the radio signal meets NFPA requirements for permitting purposes.

As radio monitoring grows, it will offer a great opportunity for owners and managers to lessen response time in the event of a fire, while at the same time reducing their annual operating budgets. The larger the number of properties radio monitoring is utilized in, the greater the cost savings will become.