How Does a Commercial Fire Alarm System Work? | Security Alarm

How Does a Commercial Fire Alarm System Work? Posted on July 27, 2018 by

If you own a hotel, convenience store, restaurant, or some other commercial structure, then at some point your fire alarm has been activated whether intentionally or by accident. We all know fire alarms are loud. They can even feel too loud. We also know that as soon as the fire alarm sounds, the police and fire department aren’t far behind.

But how does that entire process work? From the time the commercial fire alarm goes off to the time the police arrive, what occurs, and why is the process so important to business owners?

Commercial Fire Alarm Pull Down Feature

How Does a Commercial Fire Alarm System Work?

1# – The fire alarm is tripped.

When the sirens begin sounding, it means that a fire alarm device has been activated. It could be any number of life safety devices connected to your fire alarm system. Perhaps someone intentionally pulled a manual pull station (the little red box by most doors), or maybe a smoke detector was set off, or possibly a heat detector.

#2 – Signal is sent via the phone lines.

If you are set up for phone line monitoring, then a telephone line is connected to your alarm panel for monitoring purposes.  When a fire alarm system is tripped, as described above, the main panel sends the signal through the telephone line where it is then received by the 24-hr monitoring company.

#3 – Notifying the Authorities

Once the monitoring company receives the alarm signal, they then call the authorities (police, fire etc) to let them know that they have received an alarm at that address.

#4 – Notifying the customer

After the authorities have been notified, the monitoring entity calls the location where the alarm originated from to let them know that they received the signal and police and fire are on their way.

Phone Line Monitoring

Above is the sequence of events that occur from when a fire alarm is tripped to when the authorities arrive at the premise. Step back to #2 above. If you are on phone line monitoring, your panel sends signals through the phone line. Every commercial fire alarm life safety system according to NFPA 72 must have a dedicated POTS (plain old telephone line) line to monitor it. Meaning, the phone line connected to the fire panel should be used SOLELY for monitoring purposes and it must be a POTS line. If you do not have a POTS line you need to notify your security provider as your system may not meet code according to NFPA 72.

Commercial Fire Alarm System

Cellular Monitoring

Phone line monitoring is not the only option. Many customers are switching to Cellular Monitoring. Instead of needing to pay for a separate POTS line every month (which can get expensive), most fire alarms can be set up to transmit the alarm signals via the cellular towers instead of through the phone line. The sequence of events laid out above remains the same, with the only difference being how the signal is sent to the monitoring company.

Learn More About Commercial Fire Alarm Systems Today

Talk to your service provider or call us to discuss what the options are for your business’ specific commercial fire alarm system. We would be happy to send a technician out to take a look at your location, free of charge. Contact us at Security Alarm today.

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