Retirement Community Finds Faster, Frugal Fire Alarm Communications


Moss Landing is one of those well-kept secret “Southern Living” areas most dream about retiring to some day. Located on the Pamlico River, this beautiful 8-acre development offers waterfront luxury along North Carolina’s Inner Banks with proximity to the Intracoastal Waterway. The site features luxury villas and town homes with upscale amenities and a deep-water marina in the historic, waterfront town of Washington, N.C.

Villas and “Townes” are 1,526- to 3,210-square-foot homes with open architectural floor plans featuring high ceilings, lavish master suites and gourmet kitchens. All boast spectacular riverfront views. The Townes-style buildings are three stories with parking underneath and elevator service to each level. Phase I of Moss Landing construction is now complete, encompassing five buildings that are already occupied.

Along with the many amenities found in this beautiful development, residents desire a sense of safety for peace of mind. With most on fixed incomes, monthly costs of maintenance and other services must be kept to a minimum. Fire protection is a major consideration for home owners especially in a condominium setting where common walls are shared. To satisfy customer requirements, the developers chose non-proprietary commercial systems that are readily available and cost-effective, with a proven track record of positive results. 

Initial Installation
In Phase I of the development, commercial fire alarm panels manufactured by Fire-Lite Alarms were used to protect two of the buildings. Like most fire alarm systems, each panel required two phone lines for communications with a central station. Each phone line cost $60 per month for a yearly total of $1,440 per panel for both lines. In addition, a pump station located in each building required one dedicated phone line, another $60 cost, to monitor station failure switches.

To complete the fire alarm installations throughout the remaining three buildings of Phase I and take over system monitoring, developers called on local fire alarm and security dealer, S.C.I. (Solar Creations Inc.) Technologies of Winterville, N.C. Developers had originally hired S.C.I. Technologies to install the camera systems and house audio in each residential unit.

Once the five fire alarm panels and additional pump station monitors were up and running, total phone line charges escalated to $900 per month. This cost would eventually pass to the condominium owners as part of their monthly maintenance fees.


High-Tech Cost Reductions
Shortly after completion of Phase I, one of the developers mentioned the exorbitant telephone charges to S.C.I. Technologies President Mike Roberson. Determined to help his customer reduce costs, Roberson researched options and found an Internet communicator that is UL-approved for both primary and secondary communications with Fire-Lite Alarms control panels. 

The FireWatch IP Communicator is listed to ANSI/UL-864 Ninth Edition standards and meets the latest 2010 NFPA 72: National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, section 26.6 requirements, titled Communications Methods for Supervising Station Alarm Systems. Designed by Fire-Lite to connect to its panels’ existing phone line ports, the IP Communicator was a surprisingly easy change for Roberson’s team to make.

“After reviewing the specifications, I was convinced the installation of this little device would translate into big cost savings for our customer,” says Roberson. “Costs aside, the added reliability IP monitoring provides is a great bonus.”

While standard fire alarm phone dialer systems typically run one supervisory test in a 24-hour period, the FireWatch IP Communicator is polled over the Internet every 90 seconds. Central stations need only a VisorALARM-Plus receiver, which supports up to three destination IP receiver addresses, allowing for additional equipment redundancies and a multitude of configuration options. This unique flexibility enables the configuration of secondary IP receivers for backup or even clusters of two or more receivers for off-site disaster recovery purposes.

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