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Fire Side Chat: Entrusting Networks With Life Safety

Though not as quick to migrate to IT network signal transmission as other systems installed by security contractors, fire/life safety is nevertheless following suit. Find out the latest technology and code developments in this emerging area.



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Here are some additional code references:

According to Section 26.6.3.1.4, Communications Integrity: “Provision shall be made to monitor the integrity of the transmission technology and its communications path,” which has always been the aim of NFPA 72. All channels of communication must be supervised.

Section 26.6.3.1.4.1, Single Communications Technology, says: “Where only one communications technology is used, any failure of the communications path shall be annunciated at the supervising station within 5 minutes of the failure.

And third, Section 26.6.3.1.4.2, Multiple Communications Technologies, reads: “Where two or more different technologies are used, the following requirements shall be met: (1) Provision shall be made to monitor the integrity of each communications path. (2) Failure of any communications path shall be annunciated at the supervising station and at the protected premises within not more than 24 hours of the failure. Exception: Where technologies used are described elsewhere in this Code, monitoring for integrity shall be permitted to comply with those requirements.”

[IMAGE]11988[/IMAGE]Mass Notification and Integration

Network architecture plays a major role in the MNS fire alarm companies install. January 2010’s “Fire Side Chat” column discussed MNS and how it can be integrated into an EVAC system (www.securitysales.com/Channel/Fire-Life-Safety/Articles/2010/01/Integrating-Mass-Notification-With-EVAC.aspx).

In general, if we stand back for a moment and take a look at the mass notification mission, we’ll see it not only includes the audio/visual components the life-safety market is required by code to deal with, but also any and every means of communication. The object is to place timely, critical information in the hands of those who can use it the most and to do that through every possible electronic means available.

The new NFPA 72, 2010 Edition, offers significant changes on a variety of fronts, one of them being MNS technology. Herein it speaks of an emergency alert system (EAS) Distributed Recipient Mass Notification System (DRMNS), which includes telephonic, facsimile, cellular, Internet, E-mail, instant messaging, SMS texting, textual alerting communications systems and more.

In a subsequent column, we’ll take a closer look at DRMNS requirements, why fire alarm technicians should be aware of them and how EAS plays an integral role in the operation of MNS in a time of crisis. For now, to learn more about DRMNS and how MNS you sell and install today will one day depend on EAS for timely command data, refer to Sections 3.3.67, 3.3.79, and 24.4.4 of the 2010 Edition of NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code.

Al Colombo is an award-winning writer who has covered electronic security and life safety since 1986. Visit his Web site at www.alcolombo.info, and check out his Security Sense blog.


Understanding LAN, WAN and BGAN

The two most common networks in use today are local area network (LAN) and wide area network (WAN). The majority of us are most familiar with the LAN, such as the network in an office. The WAN can cover multiple buildings in a single geographic area, an entire city, state, country or even the entire world.

A third type of network, although not as well known, is called broadband global area network (BGAN). This type of network utilizes a fleet of satellites to transport bidirectional data. Popular services over BGAN include telephony and remote Internet access.

“The terminals are normally used to connect a laptop computer to broadband Internet in remote locations, although as long as line-of-sight to the satellite exists, the terminal can be used anywhere” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broadband_Global_Area_Network).

Network service providers, such as ISPs, are often employed to link individual LANs together, which essentially forms a WAN. Network architecture can include metallic, fiber, or wireless, such as satellite communications, as with the aforementioned BGAN.

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Article Topics
Fire/Life Safety · Systems Integration · Other · Fire/Life Safety 2 · Fire Side Chat · Fire Side Chat with Al Colombo · NFPA 72 · All Topics

About the Author
Shane Clary
Shane Clary, Ph.D., is Security Sales & Integration’s “Fire Side Chat” columnist. He has more than 37 years of security and fire alarm industry experience. He serves on a number of NFPA technical committees, and is vice president of Codes and Standards Compliance for Pancheco, Calif.-based Bay Alarm Co.
Contact Shane Clary: smclary@bayalarm.com
View More by Shane Clary
Fire Side Chat, Fire Side Chat with Al Colombo, NFPA 72


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