Southern Fried Life Safety

Moss Landing in the historic town of Washington, N.C., is like one of those well-kept secret enclaves featured in Southern Living magazine most people dream about retiring to some day. Located on the Pamlico River, the impressive eight-acre development offers waterfront views along North Carolina’s Inner Banks with proximity to the Intracoastal Waterway. To satisfy the residents’ security and life-safety expectations, the developers selected nonproprietary commercial systems to safeguard the community’s luxury villas and townhomes.

Fire protection and security are major considerations for homeowners here, especially in a condominium setting where common walls are shared. With most residents on fixed incomes, monthly costs of maintenance and other services must be kept to a minimum.

Entrusted with the design and installation of all the project’s fire/life-safety, video and access control systems was local integrator S.C.I. Technologies.

State-of-the-Art Fire Protection

Phase I of the Moss Landing development is now complete, encompassing five buildings that are already occupied. 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. Each building is three stories with parking underneath and elevator service to each level.

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 S.C.I. Technologies, which was already onsite to install camera and audio systems 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 about $1,500 per month. This cost would eventually pass to the condominium owners as part of their monthly maintenance fees.

Cutting Costs the Wireless Way

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 offsite disaster recovery purposes.

The addition of a 2UD daughter board to the FireWatch IP Communicator gave S.C.I. technicians the option of accessing the panel remotely via the Internet using standard control panel upload/download software readily available at Panel history can be downloaded through the panel’s IP connection to determine if maintenance is needed, such as cleaning or replacement of smoke detectors.

Roberson’s team mounted one IP Communicator in a Fire-Lite IP enclosure beside each fire alarm control panel. The devices are powered by the panel’s auxiliary 24-volt power terminals. To simulate two standard, analog telephone lines, the IP device supplies dial tone and 48VDC to both telephone ports.

If you enjoyed this article and want to receive more valuable industry content like this, click here to sign up for our FREE digital newsletters!

Security Is Our Business, Too

For professionals who recommend, buy and install all types of electronic security equipment, a free subscription to Security Sales & Integration is like having a consultant on call. You’ll find an ideal balance of technology and business coverage, with installation tips and techniques for products and updates on how to add sales to your bottom line.

A free subscription to the #1 resource for the residential and commercial security industry will prove to be invaluable. Subscribe today!

Subscribe Today!

Get Our Newsletters