Sunday, May 19, 2013

Card Access System Layout

TOP 10 Card Access Sales Questions

When you visit a job site to gather information for a card access quote, consider these questions:


1) How many doors need Card Access Control?

2) How many users will the Access Control system require?

3) How many locations/zones/partitions need Card Access?

4) Are there any existing Card Access readers?

5) If so what is the current card access system being used?

6) Do they have a card access reader and/or credential preference?

7) Do they want to integrate any other security with the Access Control?

I.E. Intrusion panel or Video?

8) Do they have an existing video platform?

9) Is there existing platform IP or Analog?

10) How old is the video system?

Once you have completed these questions, you will find that designing your card access system will be much easier.  Also ask the client if they have a scale drawing of the floor plans that you can acquire before your job walk.  This gives you a good starting point and area to make detailed notes.

Pre Alarm Fault on Gamewell 600 Series FACP


Have you ever replaced an Apollo XP95-P or XP95-I addressable smoke detector on a Gamewell 600
series fire alarm control panel? If you have been in the industry for a while, then chances are that you have.

Gamewell Apollo detector head XP-95TLet me paint a scenario for you. You receive a call from a customer or your central station claiming that their Gamewell 600 series fire alarm control panel is displaying a missing fault for an addressable smoke detector. Your technician responds and replaces the device one for one. (of course this is after he or she troubleshoots the other probable causes for a missing device) Now if you have determined that the device was bad and needed to be replaced then there should be no issues with a one for one swap, "right?'. Well the anser is yes and no. Most of the time the panel will poll the SLC (signaling line circuit) loop and find the newly installed XP95-P or XP95-I. On some occasions the fire alarm control panel may display a Pre-Alarm condition for that brand new device.

According to Gamewell's technical support department, this is caused from the panel's internal memory for each device's status. So theoretically the fire control panel is still finding the status of the old device for that particular address. Maybe before the device went missing it was dirty to the point of no return. Now the panel is showing a Pre-Alarm due to the mistaken identity of the old vs. new device.

With that said, have no fear there is a quick fix. Simply enter programming mode through the front display and select #1 for "Circuit Programming" then select #3 for "Initialize Circuit". Once the panel finishes scrolling through a few items enter the circuit number that the particular device is on and hit enter. This should re-poll the entire loop and reset the panel's memory for that device. To exit programming mode continue to hit the "enter" key until the panel displays "Commencing System Reset".

This should take care of your fault. If not read my article on Gamewell's 600 Series Soft Reset.

NICET Level 4 Major Project Writeup



If you need your NICET certification in "Fire Alarm Systems", then you have found the right place. Our site contains a ton of great information to help you achieve any NICET certification. If you are pursuing your NICET Level 4 certification you will need to perform what NICET refers to as a Major Project Write up.

The NICET certification level 4 Major Project Write up consist of a two to three page concise and detailed description of one major fire alarm system project.  Simply put you will need to write about a sophisticated fire alarm system you were involved with from design to final inspection. Here are a few things to keep in mind when drafting up your essay:

1 - Give a good description of the project and how your were involved.
2 - The NICET Certification level 4 Major Project Write up must be a separate document from your work history.
3 - The fire alarm project you choose to discuss must be within the past 3-4 years.
4 - Be sure to include all of your responsibilities, job duties and practices used to accomplish the completion of the project.


We have complied a a digital download to assist fire alarm technicians with practicing for the NICET certification exam. Our material also contains Major Project Write up guidelines and another documentation on how to properly write an essay. All of this drastically helps as this process can be very tedious.


With NICET continuing to strive in their efforts to properly certify technicians in the field of fire alarm, it is important to stay up to date with their regulations and requirements. Visit NICET for more information or check out our material for NICET practice tests and NICET study material.

Wow System Sensor D4120 Duct Detector is Now Fixed

System Sensor D4120 DNR Duct Smoke DetectorA while back I posted on the new System Sensor D4120 duct smoke detector. I stated that although a great improvement on the previous DH100 series it did have one major flaw. The System Sensor D4120 duct smoke detector would open the supervisory contact when powered up causing a trouble condition at the main fire control panel every time the end user or tech performed a reset. This was a major deal especially when you have a new high rise with over 60 of these new System Sensor D4120 duct detectors. The AHJ (authority having jurisdiction) typically does not understand why the fire control panel starts receiving 60 troubles when you reset the system.
Our tech department has been contacting System Sensor for months (ever since this device came out) trying to get an answer as to why they did this.

Well I am happy to report that System Sensor finally listened and has corrected the issue. Now when power is restored to the D4120 the supervisory contact will close immediately. Great job System Sensor with what we can now call another awesome product.

Read more from System Sensor here.

NICET Certification with New CBT Format

Has anyone taking the NICET certification exam with the new CBT (Computer Based Testing) format? I am under the impression that it is the same exam (questions and NICET elements). I completed my NICET level IV before the CBT went into effect.

I know that the Sate exams such as the California State fire technician certification exam is based on a multiple choice format through computer. It defiantly makes things nice not having to bubble in all of your answers on a scan-tron with a #2 pencil.

I would appreciate any help and or feedback on the new NICET testing procedures as I need to update my NICET fire alarm training CD. I am pretty sure it wont matter as the NICET questions are most likely the same.

Also can you still challenge questions on the new NICET test format?

If you are interested in taking the NICET Test for "fire alarms" or "Inspection and Testing of Fire Alarms", then we have you covered!  We are now selling our CBT Levels 1 - 4 NICET practice test with preparation material.  This material is packed with tons of NICET practice test questions along with all code references as to where to find the answers.  We have also supplied the material with all of the necessary NICET applications, CBT calculator demonstrations, links and more.  If you need more information, feel free to send an email.  You can find the link to purchase our NICET Practice Test on the top left section of this site.

Make sure to join our Fire Alarms Online Facebook Group HERE.

Another thing I heard is it takes a lot less time to receive your results. Maybe instant.

Fire Alarm Speaker Amplifiers New vs. Old

Old Analog FCI Fire Alarm Voice EVAC speaker amplifierWow times have changed. Check out these two pictures. The first one is a cabinet full of old fire alarm speaker amplifiers found at a high rise we are currently working at. CHeck out the size that each one of these take up.
Its amazing to think that back in the day this was state of the art!

Like I mentioned earlier, we are changing this existing system out one floor at a time so we currently have our FCI E3 voice system side by side with the old fire alarm panel in the electric room. This is where you truly notice the difference in modern technology. Check out this next picture of the FCI E3 AM-50 cards. New FCI E3 AM-50 Fire Alarm Voice RVAC speaker amplifiersThere are four installed in this one picture, each with the capability of two supervised fire alarm speaker circuits with 50 watts.

It can't wait to see what the next 40 years will bring us.

I have also included some random pictures of this install to show how we have temporarily mounted the new FCI E3 fire alarm control panel using uni-strut. Once the entire high rise building has been switched over to the new FCI E3 we will demo out the old panel and move our new system to the wall.

Make sure to join our Fire Alarms Online Facebook Group HERE.




PSI technician with FCI E3 fire alarm panel
FCI E3 NGA Touchscreen Keypad on temp mounted FCI E3 FACP



















When Are Fire Alarm Batteries Required to be Replaced

What is the Code for Replacing Fire Alarm Batteries?


It is common knowledge in the fire alarm installation industry that fire alarm batteries are to be replaced typically within 4-5 years from date of manufacturing. What you will commonly notice with companies is a lack of experience resulting in dead fire alarm batteries. Most fire alarm technicians will simply take a label maker or Sharpie and write down the installation date on the backup fire alarm batteries.

You may ask yourself, "What's wrong with this?"

Fire Alarm Battery Manufacturer Date Code

The answer is simple. As stated above the the fire alarm batteries must be replaced with 4 - 5 years from date of manufacture. If you write the installation date on the batteries then you are not noting accurate information. The reason for this is that there is no telling how long those fire alarm batteries sat in your warehouse or even the manufacturer's warehouse.

What's the Correct Way to Note the Battery Date?


Fire Alarm Back-up battery manufacturers are stamping the fire alarm batteries with the month and year of manufacture. This is the date that you want to mark down.  The fire alarm battery pictured above is manufactured by Power Sonic and has a date tamp of 10194-H on it.  I wont go into too many details about battery date codes as I have another files to assist you with this.  The code of 10194 = the Month (10) the Day (19) and the Year (2004). So as you can see by a technician labeling the batteries new on "2/2/2015" throws things off a bit.  If you want to download our multi-tool with voltage drop calculations, battery calcs, dB loss and battery date codes, click here.

For your reference I have included the NFPA 72 2013 edition code sections below:

Table 14.4.3.2 #9  Fire alarm batteries shall be replaced in accordance with the recommendations of the alarm equipment manufacturer or when the recharged battery voltage or current falls below the manufacturer's recommendations.

10.6.10.1.1 When the fire alarm batteries are not marked with the month/year by the manufacturer, the installer shall obtain the date code and mark the batteries with month/year of battery manufacture.

Make sure to join our Fire Alarms Online Facebook Group HERE.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Fire Alarm Definitions and Industry Terms


Glossary/Definitions

Addressable Device: A fire alarm system component with discreet identification that can have its status individually identified, or that is used to individually control other functions.

Air Sampling-Type Detector: A detector that consists of a piping or tubing distribution network from the detector to the areas being protected. A fan in the detector housing draws air from the protected area back to the detector. The air is analyzed for products of combustion

Alarm Signal: A signal indicating an emergency requiring immediate action, such as a signal indicative of a fire.

Alarm Verification: A feature of some automatic fire detection and alarm systems to reduce unwanted alarms. Smoke detectors must report alarm conditions for a minimum period of time, or confirm alarm conditions within a given time period after being reset, to be accepted as a valid alarm initiating signal.

Analog Initiating Device: An initiating device that transmits a signal indicating varying degrees of condition, such as smoke obscuration levels. As contrasted with a conventional initiating device which can only indicate an “on/off” condition

Annunciator: A unit containing two or more indicator lamps, alphanumeric displays, or other equivalent means in which each indication provides status information about a circuit, condition, or location.

Approved: Acceptable to the “authority having jurisdiction”.
Note: The National Fire Protection Association does not approve, inspect or certify any installations, procedures, equipment, or materials, nor does it approve or evaluate testing laboratories.

Authority Having Jurisdiction: Organization, office or individual responsible for “approving” equipment, an installation or a procedure.

Automatic Extinguishing System Operation Detector: A device that detects the operation of an extinguishing system by means appropriate to the system employed. Including but not limited to water flow devices.

Automatic Extinguishing System Supervision: Devices that respond to abnormal conditions that could affect the proper operation of an automatic sprinkler system or other fire extinguishing system. Including but not limited to control valves, pressure levels, room temperature, etc.

Automatic Fire Detectors: A device designed to detect the presence of fire or the products of combustion. Including but not limited to heat detectors, flame detectors, smoke detectors.

Auxiliary Fire Alarm System: A system connected to a municipal fire alarm system for transmitting an alarm of fire to the public fire service communication center. Fire alarms from an auxiliary system are received at the public fire service communication center on the same equipment and by the same methods as alarms transmitted manually from municipal fire alarm boxes located on streets.

Breakglass Fire Alarm Box: A fire alarm box in which it is necessary to break a special element in order to operate the box.

Ceiling: The upper surface of a space, regardless of height. Areas with a suspended ceiling would have two ceilings, one visible from the floor and one above the suspended ceiling.

Ceiling Height: The height from the continuous floor of a room to the continuous ceiling of a room or space.

Ceiling Surfaces: Ceiling surfaces referred to in conjunction with the locations of initiating devices are as follows:
A} Beam Construction: Ceilings having solid nonstructural members projecting down from the ceiling surface more than 4 in. and spaced more than 3 ft., center to center.
B} Girders: Girders support beams or joists and run at right angles to the beams or joists. When the top of girders are within 4 in. of the ceiling, they are a factor in determining the number of detectors and are to be considered as beams. When the top of the girder is more than 4 in. from the ceiling, it is not a factor in detector location.

Central Station: A supervising station that is listed for central station service.

Central Station Fire Alarm System: A system or group of systems in which the operations of circuits and devices are transmitted automatically to, recorded in, maintained by, and supervised from a listed central station.

Class A Circuit: Class A refers to an arrangement of monitored initiating device, signaling line, or notification appliance circuits, which would permit a single open or ground on the installation wiring of these circuits from causing loss of the systems intended function.

Class B Circuit: Class B refers to an arrangement of monitored initiating device, signaling line, or notification appliance circuits, which would permit a single open or ground on the installation wiring of these circuits to cause loss of the systems intended function.

Combination Detector: A device that either responds to more than one fire phenomenon or employees more than one operating principle to sense one of these phenomenon. Typical examples are combination smoke/heat detectors or a combination rate of rise and fixed temperature heat detector.

Compatibility Listed: A specific listing process that applies only to two wire devices [such as smoke detectors] designed to operate with certain control equipment.

Digital Alarm Communicator Receiver [DACR]: A system component that will accept and display signals from digital alarm communicator transmitters [DACT] sent over public switched telephone network.

Digital Alarm Communicator System [DACS]: A system in which signals are transmitted from a digital alarm communicator transmitter [DACT] located at the protected premises through the public switched telephone network to a DACR.

Digital Alarm Communicator Transmitter [DACT]: A system component at the protected premises to which initiating devices are connected. The DACT will seize the connected telephone line, dial a pre-selected telephone number to connect to a DACR, and transmit signals indicating a status change of the initiating device.

Display: The visual representation of output data other than printed copy.

Evacuation: The withdrawal of occupants from a building.
Note: Evacuation does not include relocation of occupants within a building.

End Of Line Device: A device such as a resistor or diode placed at the end of a class B circuit to maintain supervision.

End Of Line Relay: A device used to supervise power [usually for 4-wire smoke detectors] and installed within or near the last device on an initiating circuit.

Evacuation Signal: Distinctive signal intended to be recognized by the occupants as requiring evacuation of the building.

Exit Plan: Plan for the emergency evacuation of the premises.

Fire Alarm Control Unit [Panel]: A system component that receives inputs from automatic and manual fire alarm devices and may supply power to detection devices and transponders or
off-premises transmitters. The control unit may also provide transfer of power to the notification appliances and transfer condition of relays or devices connected to the control unit. The fire alarm control unit can be a local unit or a master control unit.

Fire Rating: The classifications indicating in time [hours] the ability of a structure or component to withstand fire conditions.

Fire Safety Functions: Building and fire control functions that are intended to increase the level of life safety for occupants or to control the spread of harmful effects of fire.

Flame Detector: A device that detects the infrared, ultraviolet, or visible radiation caused by fire.

Four Wire Smoke Detector: a smoke detector that has two distinct circuits used in its operation. The first circuit provides resettable power for the detector and the second circuit monitors the contact on the device. These types of devices are not listed for compatibility.

Heat Detector: A device that detects abnormally high temperature or rate of temperature rise.

Initiating Device: A system component that originates transmission of a change of state condition, such as a smoke detector, water flow switch, etc.

Initiating Device Circuit: A circuit to which automatic or manual initiating devices are connected.

Ionization Smoke Detector: A smoke detector that has a small amount of radioactive material which ionizes the air in the sensing chamber, thus rendering it conductive and permitting a current to flow between two charged electrodes. This gives the sensing chamber an effective electrical conductance. When smoke particles enter the sensing chamber they decrease the conductance of the air by attaching themselves to the ions, causing a reduction in mobility. When conductance is reduced to less than a predetermined level, the detector responds.

Level Ceilings: Those ceilings that are actually level or have a slope of less than 1 1/2 in. per foot.

Light Scattering: The action of light being reflected and/or refracted off particles of combustion for detection by a photoelectric smoke detector.

Line Type Detector: A device in which detection is continuous along a path. Examples include projected beam smoke detectors and heat sensitive cable.

Listed: Equipment or materials included in a list published by an organization acceptable to the “authority having jurisdiction” and concerned with product evaluation, that maintains periodic inspection of production of listed equipment or materials and whose listing states either that the equipment or material meets appropriate standards or has been tested and found suitable for use in a specific manner.
Note: The means for identifying listed equipment may vary for each organization concerned with product evaluation, some of which do not recognize as listed unless it is also labeled. The “authority having jurisdiction” should utilize the system employed by the listing organization to identify a listed product.

Local Fire Alarm System: A local system sounding an alarm at the protected premises as the result of the operation of automatic or manual initiating devices.

Manual Station [pull station]: A manually operated device used to initiate an alarm signal.

National Fire Protection Association [NFPA]: Administers the development of and publishes codes, standards, and other materials concerning all phases of fire safety.

Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL)a laboratory that is recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration as meeting the necessary qualifications specified in the Code of Federal Regulations. Common NRTL in the United States that deal with fire alarm products are FM Approvals, Intertek Testing Services (ETL) and Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (ULI)

Non restorable Initiating Device: A device whose sensing element is designed to be destroyed in the process of operation.

Notification Appliance: A fire alarm system component such as a bell, horn, speaker, strobe, etc. that provides an audible or visible output or both.

Notification Appliance Circuit (NAC): A circuit directly connected to a notification appliance.

Obscuration: A reduction in the atmospheric transparency caused by smoke. Usually expressed in percent per foot.

Particles of Combustion: Substances resulting from the chemical process of a fire.

Photoelectric Smoke Detector: A smoke detector utilizing a light source and a photosensitive sensor so arranged that the rays from the light do not normally shine on the photosensitive sensor. When smoke enters the light path, some of the light reflects off the smoke onto the sensor, causing the detector to respond.

Proprietary Fire Alarm System: An installation of fire alarm systems that serve contiguous and noncontiguous properties under one ownership from a proprietary supervising station located at the protected property.

Rate Of Rise Heat Detector: A device which will respond when the temperature rises at a rate exceeding a predetermined amount [usually about 15 degrees per minute].

Remote Station Fire Alarm System: A system installed in accordance with NFPA 72 to transmit alarm, trouble and supervisory from one or more protected premises to a remote location at which appropriate action is taken.

Restorable Initiating Device: A device whose sensing element is not ordinarily destroyed in the process of operation. Restoration may be manual or automatic.

Shall: In NFPA literature indicates a mandatory requirement.

Should: In NFPA literature indicates a recommendation or that which is requested but not required.

Signaling Line Circuit: A circuit or path between any combination of circuit interfaces, control units, or transmitters over which multiple system input signals or output signals, or both are carried.

Sloping Ceiling: Ceilings having a slope of more than 1 1/2 in. per foot.
A: Sloping - Peaked Type, Ceilings in which the slope is in two directions from the highest point. Curved or domed ceilings may be considered peaked.
B: Sloping - Shed Type, Ceilings in which the high point is at one side with the slope extending toward the opposite side.

Smooth Ceiling: A surface uninterrupted by continuous projections such as solid joists, beams or ducts, extending more than 4 in. below the ceiling surface.

Solid Joist Construction: Ceilings having solid structural or nonstructural members projecting down from the ceiling surface a distance of more than 4 in. and spaced at intervals 3 ft. or less, center to center.

Spot Type Detector: A device whose detecting element is concentrated at a particular location. Examples include certain smoke and heat detectors.

Stratification: An effect that occurs when air containing smoke particles or products of combustion is heated by burning material, rises until it reaches a level where there is no longer a temperature difference between it and the surrounding air.

Story: the portion of a building included between the upper surface of a floor and the upper surface of a floor or roof next above.

Supervision: The ability to detect a fault condition in the installation wiring which would prevent normal operation of the fire alarm system.

Supervisory Signal: A signal indicating an “off normal” condition on the fire suppression system. Examples include, tamper indication, low air pressure and low building temperature.

Thermal Lag: The difference between the operating temperature of a thermal detector and the actual air temperature.

Two-Wire Smoke Detector: A smoke detector that initiates an alarm condition on the same pair of wires that supply power to the detector

Duct Smoke Detectors and LED Test Plates

Duct smoke detectors are a common device found in most fire alarm systems from the past and present. Whether the duct smoke detector is addressable or conventional, they both work the same way. A sample tube is inserted into the duct work and samples the air for smoke. If smoke is detected then the photoelectric smoke detector head within the duct smoke detectors sends an alarm signal to the fire alarm panel and shuts down the air conditioning unit.

With that said, most of these duct smoke detectors are located in areas that are not very easily accessed. These areas could include areas such as above t-bar or hard lid ceilings, attic spaces or roof tops. If the actual duct detector is located above a ceiling then access hatches or panels must be provided for obvious reasons. Also if the duct smoke detector is located in an area out of sight then you must provide a detailed description of the device location within the fire alarm control panel program as well as a remote LED plate on the ceiling below the device. This will assist the fire department, end user and technician locate the device. In fact, some jurisdictions such as L.A. County are requiring the remote LED plate to be installed any time you have a duct smoke detector above a ceiling and out of plain view.

With all of this information it is hard for me to understand how some of these local fire alarm installation companies are getting away with installing the remote LED plates on the wall directly above the thermostat controls for the particular HVAC unit. This picture was taken at a local restaurant in the Valencia, CA area. Now with these remote LED plates installed on the wall it makes it easy for fire alarm testing but it totally eliminates their true purpose. If there is a fire reported at the building with a signal coming from a duct smoke detector then the fire department is going to want to know exactly where it's location is the minute they enter. The LED on the wall does not exactly help.

Elevator Recall Explanation and Programming

Elevator Recall Programming for Fire Alarm


Programming and designing elevator recall for fire alarm systems is a fairly simple process if you are familiar with the codes and standards in place.  Most fire alarm programmers and contractors understand the principle behind capturing passenger elevators but for those of you that don't, check this out!
Fire Alarm Elevator Recall

Elevators are required by code to be connected and controlled by a Building Fire Alarm System (NFPA 72 2013 3.3.105.4.1) or an Elevator Recall System which falls under the NFPA 72 classification of Dedicated Function Fire Alarm System (NFPA 72 2013 3.3.105.4.2).

As required by NFPA 72 2013 21.3.5*, the spot type smoke detectors for the use of capturing the passenger elevator shall be mounted within 21' centerline of the elevator door.  In addition to these detectors, you will have smoke detector(s) in the elevator machine (EMR) room and at the top of the elevator hoistway.   Keep in mind that smoke detection in the elevator shaft is only required if the elevator hoistway has automatic sprinklers.  Automatic sprinklers are only found in the elevator hoistway if the elevator is constructed of combustible material.  Consult NFPA 13 and the International Building Code for more details.  All of these spot type smoke detectors will be associated with your building fire alarm or dedicated function elevator system's elevator recall functions.

Regarding the elevator and the building fire alarm system relationship, we have additional functions that require the installation of thermal spot type heat detectors.  You will need these thermal spot type heat detectors in the elevator machine room (EMR) and elevator shaft (only if automatic sprinklers are present).  Note these heat detectors do not recall or capture the elevators.  These thermal heat detectors shunt the power to the elevator controller in the event of a fire.  Remember the thermal spot type detectors used for shunt trip are required to be set or programmed to a lower temperature point then the surrounding automatic sprinkler heads.  The intent is for the fire alarm system to sense the fire before the automatic sprinkler heads.  This way the fire alarm control unit (FACU) can disconnect the power to the elevator controls prior to the sprinkler head applying water to its electronics.  You can read more about fire alarm system elevator shunt trip in the following article: elevator shunt trip.

Designated Level Recall and Alternate Level Recall


NFPA 72 2013 21.3.14.1.  Designated Level Recall.  All smoke detectors associated with elevator recall that are not installed on the primary floor of egress including the top of the elevator shaft will activate the designated level elevator recall relay.  This function will send the elevator car to the main level of exit discharge.  (typically lobby floor or level #1 depending on the building layout).

NFPA 72 2013 21.3.14.2.  Alternate Level Recall.  All smoke detectors associated with elevator recall that are installed on the main level of exit discharge will activate the alternate level elevator recall relay.  This function will send the passenger elevator to the alternate floor of egress. (typically the basement or 2nd floor depending on the building layout).

Elevator Flashing Hat LightThe floor or level where the elevator equipment room is located will determine the recall relay to be activated in the event of an activated smoke detector.  Example:  If the elevator machine room (EMR) is located on the first floor, its associated smoke will activate the alternate elevator recall relay.  If the elevator machine room is located on the roof, its associated smoke detector will activate the designated elevator recall relay.

The heat detectors in the elevator machine room and elevator hoistway will activate the shunt trip relay killing power to the controller.  On top of this the heat detectors shall shut off any back-up power to the elevator.  Per NFPA 72 2013 section 21.3.14.3* The elevator hoistway and equipment machine room smoke detectors and or heat detectors shall activate a visual warning commonly known as the flashing Fireman's Hat Light near the elevator call buttons.  This allows the fire department to become aware if there is a fire in the hoistway or elevator machine room.

Now programming all of this might seem difficult but it is actually really simple.  Get basic instructions on how the programming breaks down in this article:  fire alarm system with elevator recall.

Make sure to join our Fire Alarms Online Facebook Group HERE.

Elevator Recall Programming for Fire Alarm

Are you up to speed with fire alarm systems in relation to elevator recall and elevator shunt trip?  If not, check out this article titled Elevator Recall and Shunt Trip Basics.

Easy Way to Breakdown Elevator Recall and Shunt Trip Programming


Now that we know what elevator recall is all about, lets move on to programming basics for fire alarm systems.  The best way to start this process is to write down all of your fire alarm devices associated with the elevator recall functions.  Make a list running vertical (top to bottom) of all the smoke detectors and heat detectors used for these functions.  Example below:

1 - 1st floor elevator lobby smoke detector
2 - 1st floor elevator machine room smoke detector
3 - 1st floor elevator machine room heat detector
4 - 2nd floor elevator lobby smoke detector
5 - 3rd floor elevator lobby smoke detector
6 - 4th floor elevator lobby smoke detector
7 - Elevator hoistway smoke detector
8 - Elevator hoistway heat detector
9 - Designated elevator recall relay
10 - Alternate elevator recall relay
11 - Shunt trip relay
12 - Elevator battery back-up relay
13 - Elevator fireman's hat light relay

Now that we have all of our fire alarm devices associated with the elevator recall functions written down, it's time to place them in groups or zones.  This is the process that tells the fire alarm control panel what to do in the event one of these devices is activated.

As stated in one of our previous articles,  we know that the smoke detectors on all floors other than the first floor will send the elevator the the 1st floor.  We also know that the smoke detectors on the first floor will send the elevator to the second floor.  And last the heat detectors will activate the shunt trip and battery back-up and the elevator hoistway and elevator machine room smoke detectors will activate the fireman's hat light or visual warning per NFPA 72 2013 21.3.14.3.  To make this simple we are going to use 5 different zones (1 = general alarm, 2 = primary elevator recall, 3 = secondary elevator recall, 4 = shunt trip/battery back-up, and 5 = fire fighters hat light).

With that said, take your list above and write down the zones or groups for each point next to the device description.  Also make note of which devices are inputs and outputs.

Elevator Recall and Shunt Trip Programming Zones


1 - 1st floor elevator lobby smoke detector (input) -------- 1,3
2 - 1st floor elevator equipment room smoke detector (input) -------- 1,3,5
3 - 1st floor elevator machine room heat detector (input) -------- 1,4,5
4 - 2nd floor elevator lobby smoke detector (input) -------- 1,2
5 - 3rd floor elevator lobby smoke detector (input) -------- 1,2
6 - 4th floor elevator lobby smoke detector (input) -------- 1,2
7 - Elevator hoistway smoke detector (input) -------- 1,2,5
8 - Elevator hoistway or pit heat detector (input) -------- 1,4,5
9 - Designated elevator recall relay (output) -------- 2
10 - Alternate elevator recall relay (output) -------- 3
11 - Shunt trip relay (output) -------- 4
12 - Elevator battery back-up relay (output) -------- 4
13 - Elevator fireman's hat light relay (output) -------- 5



Elevator Recall Detail

Now that you have it all written out it makes it a lot easier to program.  Hope this helps.  If you have questions regarding elevator recall be sure to post a comment or email us.

2009 Gamewell FCI Distributors Conference

This is my partners and I receiving our award at the Gamewell-FCI distributor's conference in Tuscon Arizona 2009.  From left to right: Steve Birdsall (Vice President of Sales for Gamewell-FCI), Kelly Palmer, Kyle Schuler (myself), Tim Olson and Mike Madden.
This picture is a little out dated but since I just found it on our server, I thought I would share it.
Gamewell conference with Steve Birdsall, Mike Madden from Gamewell/FCI and Tim Olson, Kelly Palmer and Kyle Schuler, SET from PSI

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Smoke Detector Placement for Magnetic Door Holders

What are Magnetic Door Holders for Fire Walls


Fire rated doors are in place to control the spread of fire through corridors and passageways.  In a perfect world, these doors would be kept closed at all times.  However, facilities typically want more of an open floor concept as well as ease of access for their visitors.  This is where electromagnetic door holders came into play.  These fire rated door holders have an energized coil which creates a magnet strong enough to hold the self closing fire rated doors in the open position.   On the fire alarm side, you would need a control relay to intercept a switch-leg of power to the door holder circuit as well as an initiating device such as a smoke detector to activate the relay.  Once the detector senses smoke, the fire alarm control unit sends a signal to the relay which then opens the power circuit.  Once power has been lost to the door holders, the coil is de-energized and the magnet no longer has the pulling force to hold the door in the open position.  The self closing mechanism shall close the door from a fully open position (90 degrees) to 12 degrees from the latch at a minimum of 5 seconds.  This insures the doors do not close to quickly.  This information can be located in ANSI 117.1 2009 section 404.2.7.1.


Smoke Detector Placement for Fire Rated Doors and Magnetic Door Holders


There are a few things to keep in mind when installing smoke detectors for magnetic door holder releasing.  For this information we must consult the standards found in NFPA 72 2013.  Below we have broken down a few code sections from chapter 17 to help clear up any confusion:

NFPA 72 2013 SD Spacing Requirements:    


17.7.5.6.5.1 (A)
If the depth of the wall section above the door is 24 inches (610 mm) or less, one ceiling mounted smoke detector shall be required on one side of the doorway only, or two wall mounted smoke detectors shall be required, one on each side of the doorway.

17.7.5.6.5.1 (B)
If the depth of the wall section above the door is greater than 24 inches (610 mm) on one side only, one ceiling mounted smoke detector shall be required on the higher side of the doorway only, or two wall mounted smoke detectors shall be required, one on each side of the doorway.

17.7.5.6.5.1 (C)
If the depth of the wall section above the door is greater than 24 inches (610 mm) on both sides, two ceiling mounted smoke detectors or two wall mounted smoke detectors shall be required.  One on each side of the doorway.

Fire Alarms Online note:  Per Figure 17.7.5.6.5.1 (A) in NFPA 72 2013, the smoke detectors used for the purpose of releasing magnetic door holders shall be located within 5 feet of the header.


Smoke Detectors Placement for Door Holders
Smoke Detector Within 5 Feet of the Header
In the above picture, you can clearly see that the header or space above the doorway with magnetic door holders is less than 24 inches (610 mm).  However, the installing fire life safety company installed a smoke detector on the ceiling on both sides of the doorway.  This smoke detector placement is not required but it never hurts to have extra coverage.  Just thought I would point it out.
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Westin SFO Get Fire Alarm Upgrade

Notifier Onyx Series EVAC Upgrade for Westin SFO

Pyro-Comm Systems, a NESCO affiliate for Notifier just completed a rather complex fire alarm upgrade as it was for an occupied 7 story hotel in the San Francisco area.  The old Simplex 4100 was replaced with a much needed upgrade.  We installed a new Notifier NFS2-3030 with 7 SLC loop cards, full voice, fire phones and all new System Sensor speaker strobe devices.  Here are some pictures of the fire control room before paint.  Sorry for the split pictures as the room is to small to get the shot all in one.
Notifier NFS2-3030 with DVC at the Westin SFO


The cabinet in the upper center is full of 5 Notifier XP6-C addressable control module cards to control the fire phones, first floor fire alarm speakers as well as the 5 elevator cabs and 4 stairwell fire alarm speaker circuits.  Below that cabinet are two battery cabinets each with 2 55aH backup batteries.  One for the Notifier NFS2-3030 and the other for the amplifier cabinet located to the right.  The amplifier cabinet is filled with 4 100 watt amps to power up the 7 floors.  Finally to the right of the amp cabinet is three new 12 amp Honeywell remote power supplies used for both the first floor strobe circuits as well as 40 door holders.

Also not shown in the pictures are the two LCD-160 remote annuciators, the fire phone jack handset storage cabinet and one system printer.  All in all it came out really clean. 

We will be writing another post soon with the details of the installation as we ran into some time consuming obstacles

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Fire Alarm Speaker Zone with Music

Here is a great idea for all of you that are installing voice evacuation systems.  Install an addressable relay and control module for each fire alarm speaker zone.  Once installed map the addressable relay to a function button such as the DVC with Notifier.  This can all be done through the display and or laptop computer.  Now make sure to label the DVC (Digital Voice Command) button with the area served as well as music such as "Stair #1 MUSIC".  Once you push the Notifier DVC button it will activate the addressable relay.  Hook up an addressable monitor module such as the MMF-101 for Notifier to the SLC and the class B zone leads to the normally open contacts on the addressable relay (AOM-2RF).  This monitor module should be programmed to activate the music in your program for that specific speaker zone.

Did I lose you yet?
Notifer DVC with Background MusicStep #1:  Map a system function button to an addressable relay
Step #2:  Connect the addressable relay to an addressable monitor module (N.O.)
Step #3:  Program the addressable monitor module to activate a specific speaker zone
Outcome:  When you push the button it activates the relay, the relay shorts out the monitor module and activates the music from your program onto that specific speaker zone.Notifier Relay and Moddule for Background Music

What is the reason for this?

It is simple.  Every time you perform your system testing you can do a quick functional test of the speaker zone paging and alert message and then to make it less distracting to your client, you can play soft music through the speakers while you walk around and verify audibility.

Pretty slick right?

Just make sure to have the program written to activate a system trouble at the fire control panel every time this function is in use.  This will ensure that you do not leave a site with music in place of the actual alert tone.

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System Sensor Fire Alarm Testing the Easy Way

We are fortunate as an FCI (Fire Control Instruments) dealer working strictly with System Sensor fire alarm devices to have the magnet testing feature. Unlike the down time of artificial or canned smoke testing, magnet fire alarm testing is almost instant. In today's economy, fire alarm testing is all about time. How long is it going to take your technicians to test an entire facility and still come up with a profit? That's the question. However, every other company is thinking the same thing and they are all coming up with ways to shave time and get the contract.

If your crew is dragging a ladder around to each photoelectric smoke detector or Innovair System Sensor duct detector than you have already lost. When I say lost it is not necessarily the contract but you have definitely left good money on the table.

Now there are great fire alarm testing contraptions on the market that allow you to reach high areas with canned smoke. And don't get me wrong, they work great. However, they are very costly and don't seem to hold up to the construction lifestyle to well. Mostly made from plastic, they seem to break after a while. Lets face it fire alarm technicians are not the most gentle humans on the planet.

Real quick three downsides to testing with canned smoke:
  • Canned smoke runs out and becomes a reoccurring expense

  • Canned smoke deteriorates the sensing chamber of a smoke detector after prolonged use

  • When testing with canned smoke you may require an additional trip to the fire alarm device with canned air to clean out the sensing chamber. This equals double labor!!!

We at Dimensional Ventures, Inc. have come up with a simple patent pending device that can be used time and time again to test fire alarm devices with magnet test capabilities without any reoccurring expenses, ladders, or worries of destroying your costumers fire alarm detection equipment. With a simple design allowing us to attach to a 1/2" EMT conduit we are able to perform fire alarm testing at more than twice the speed of standard canned smoke methods.

We have tested this device on such equipment as:
  • i3 System Sensor Smokes

  • Innovair System Sensor Duct Detectors

  • All Addressable System Sensor Smoke Detector models

  • And more