Why Should I Upgrade My Fire Alarm Monitoring to Cellular Technology?

fire alarm monitoring with cellular technology

Fire Alarm Monitoring with Cellular Technology

Fire Protection Services Offers Fire Alarm System Upgrades for Commercial Buildings throughout Georgia. Learn why upgrading to cellular technology is critical for your fire and life safety systems to stay in compliance.

No matter what the application, emerging technologies generally prove beneficial. But they can also prove disruptive, both by forcing a transition from long-utilized technologies, and when they evolve so quickly that they cause the need for repeated upgrades. Fire alarm systems provide a good case in point.

Consider that traditional fire alarm systems for commercial buildings long relied on copper phone lines known as POTS (plain old telephone system) for their communications with the firehouse, or central monitoring station. Systems typically were required to be linked by two POTS lines; one dedicated specifically to the alarm system, while the required second backup line could be on a shared line. This system proved effective for decades, but technological changes in communications are rendering it obsolete.

Initially integrators installed network, digital cellular or private wireless communications primarily for new fire systems or when they had to replace a panel. But more recently a substantial market has developed for add-on modules that work with existing panels.
— Changes in the NFPA Fire Code Are Driving a Thriving Retrofit Market


The Impact of Fiber Optics on Fire Alarm Systems

The ongoing replacement of POTS lines with fiber optics marked the first big disruptive technological change. The old system monitored the voltage within the copper wiring to monitor the integrity of the communications. Because fiber optic lines do not carry voltage, this eliminated that form of system monitoring. Thus, as telephone companies replace their POTs lines with fiber optics, businesses are forced to retrofit their fire alarm systems. In fact, the shift to fiber optics has happened so quickly on a relative basis that some businesses in Georgia may not realize that their fire alarm systems are no longer being monitored and are no longer in compliance with code. 


Various Options for Fire Alarm System Retrofits

Meanwhile, the rise of fiber optics is only one disrupting change in the field of communications. Advancements in Internet and cellular technologies have completely changed—and continue to change—wired and wireless communications. This means that businesses are faced with numerous options when considering the retrofit of their fire alarm systems. In deciding on a retrofit, most businesses now have the option of connecting their systems via Internet protocol (IP) on landline, cellular service, or radio frequency. And to complicate this decision, each of these methods comes with their own technology specific alternatives, as well as variations in installation and operating costs.   


Beware of Evolving Technology

Compounding the decision making is the fact that the technologies are evolving so quickly that some fire alarm systems end up needing another retrofit within a few years because their chosen option became obsolete. For example, fire alarm systems that originally retrofitted with cellular 2G systems had to upgrade because 2G is no longer used.


Account for National Fire Protection Association Codes 

In addition to weaving through the numerous technological considerations in retrofitting a fire alarm system, it is imperative that the retrofit follow the National Fire Protection Association’s Fire Alarm and Signaling Code® (NFPA 72®). While this code has undergone numerous revisions in recent years, the latest version is believed to account for the latest technological advances. In fact, the latest version of NFPA 72® is believed to allow for more cost-effective solutions for retrofitting with the new technologies than previous versions. The state of Georgia has adopted NFPA 72®, which means that businesses that follow it in their fire alarm retrofits will be in compliance with state fire codes.


Turn to Fire Protection Services for Your Fire Alarm System Retrofit    

Fire Protection Services LLC offers cellular technology upgrades and retrofits as part of its complete fire alarm system inspection, maintenance, and testing services. Servicing the greater Atlanta area, Georgia and the southeast, we keep abreast of the latest technological advances in communications and can upgrade your alarm system to efficiently protect your commercial business. The Fire Protection Services team will assess your existing fire alarm system, explain communications options, and work with you to cost-effectively come up with a plan to upgrade your system to meet code.

To learn more about our fire alarm system retrofit service, as well as the full range of our commercial fire protection services, contact our office today online, or by calling 770-637-1042 or 478-324-8626.