Fire Alarm Monitoring

A fire alarm can be either “Stand-Alone” or Monitored.

A Stand-Alone system will alert the occupants locally within the building using audible and visual indicators.

A monitored system can also alert the occupants locally, but will automatically send a signal to a remote building usually called an Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) informing the personnel in the ARC that the fire alarm has activated. The ARC will then following the predefined instructions given in the event of receiving a signal; this may well be to call the Fire & Rescue Service and the building keyholders.

Having the fire alarm monitored has the advantage that the Fire and Rescue Service are automatically summoned at the first instant and without having to rely on anyone making the call. The Early calling of the Fire & Rescue service can be vital when saving lives or reducing damage to property.

Should a P-type category fire alarm be installed to protect the property and assets, then it will have to be monitored.

The most well-known brand of monitoring is BT Redcare. However, there are many Alarm Receiving Centres known as ARC’s all over the country monitoring not only fire alarms but intruders, Building Management systems, Fridges, or any equipment that needs to be monitored and if activated someone alerted.

Video Above

In the video, we show how a fire alarm is interfaced to a Redcare Secure unit and how the fire alarm company or the client can access and control their monitoring via a web portal.

To give you all some idea as to how the Redcare Secure operates, we have installed a unit into our office at Fire Systems Ltd. As we venture inside the fire alarm panel you will observe the comms type cable in the connection block to the right-hand side.

In this example, we will be monitoring a “Fault” and “Fire” condition from the system.

The unit is wired into the “Fault” relay and the “Fire” relay as shown.

The blue wire is going to Pin 1 and will provide a “Fire” signal.

The Yellow wire is going to Pin 2 and will provide a “Fault” signal.

The red and black wires are providing the power to the unit.

The unit can handle up to 7 different channels.

The black box to the left of the unit is the antenna, or sometimes referred to as the Ariel. The reason for the antenna is to transmit the fire and fault signal to the Alarm Receiving Centre via the GSM network.

The two green 8 way segment display units, provides useful information such as the

  • GSM signal strength. Which should be 12 or over, our unit is showing a value of 19
  • Alarm Signals – In our case it will be 1 or 2, representing the fire signal on channel 1 or the fault signal on channel 2.

The red and black cables provide the power to the unit, with the blue wire on pin 1, providing a fire signal and the blue wire on pin 2, providing a fault signal.

The black box to the left is the antenna to transmit the alarms signals using the GSM network. The digital display provides GSM signal strength and Alarm signal information.

Right, let’s carrying out some testing and view the results. As you can see from my mobile phone the date is Friday 17th April at 11:42.

The first test will be to generate a fault by removing the 230v supply. You will see on the digital display the fault has been received. Showing an alarm on channel 02.

The next test will be another fault test and is being recorded at 11:44. The engineer will remove the battery backup supply that will again generate a fire alarm fault. The fault has been accepted. The battery has been reinstated and the panel reset.

The following test at 11:45 was another fire alarm fault generated by the removal of a smoke detector.

This time the following test will be a fire alarm activation and not a fault. The time recorded for this activation is 11:46.

You will not observe the number on the digital display is now changed to 01.

The following test will be recorded at 11:46, and will be a “fire” alarm activation and not a “fault”.

You will now observe that on the digital display the Alarm indication is now followed by a 01, as opposed to a 02. 01 is the number for a fire alarm activation.

The fire alarm system has gone back into a fire alarm condition as there is still smoke detector gas within the chamber of the detector.  This 2nd alarm will also be recorded in the event log.

Touch Portal – Fire Alarm Monitoring

The “Touch” portal is accessible via the web, allowing you to view the site history from your desktop or mobile device. At arriving at the portal, you enter you’re your security details and this will take you to the “Account  Statistics Overview” page.

We then click the top option “Total Systems Monitored” to view a list of all sites currently active and being monitored.

The site we are looking for is our office “Fire Systems Ltd”, we click on this, and this takes us to a further list of options. We then select, the “Events History” and this will reveal an event history log.

In relation to the test we carried out, our first test was on Friday the17th at 11:42, this was the removal of the 230v mains supply. As you can see it is listed as a “Fire Fault” under a Zone ID of 2. If you remember all faults will be logged as channel 2. Once the fire alarm panel is reset, this is also logged as a “Restored PA Zone” and the time is recorded.

If we continue with the next fault, which was the removal of the backup battery; as you can see the fault was logged again as a “Fire Fault” channel 2 at 11:44 and restored at 11:44.

The next fault was the removal of the smoke detector, and this was recorded at 11:45 and restored at 11:45. All of these fault signals came in on Zone ID 2, which is channel 2.

Our first fire alarm activation is recorded at 11:46, and is listed as a “Fire Alarm” with a Zone ID as channel 1. The system is restored at 11:46.

Finally, we have another fire activation, this was due to the detector reactivating the system, as the sensing chamber still has an element of test gas within it. The reactivation was also recorded at 11:46 and restored at 11:47.

As you can see from the event log, all alarms have been accounted for and match the times recorded.

Fire Systems Ltd have all their connections controlled using this portal called “Touch”.