It’s eleven o’clock at night and the phone has jarred you from sleep. One of the tenants in the building across the street says there is smoke coming from one of your buildings. They’ve just called 911. Your thought: why did the fire alarm not go off? Why is my neighbor calling instead of the security company that monitors the system? Then, how bad is it, is the fire department there yet, is everyone out of the building?
Fortunately, there is only minor damage to one room and no one was hurt. But the nagging question is why the alarm system did not work properly. You call the security company to investigate and discover the phone system is not properly connected. It’s not an uncommon problem!
What happened? In a landline phone monitoring system there are two phone lines connected. One phone is the primary and the other is the back up. Since the lines are all connected to the same junction boxes as the other phones in the building they are sometimes disconnected by vacating tenants turning off their service. It may go unnoticed until your annual inspection or when you get a call from your neighbor across the street.
There is a high cost for this landline system. You call the security company to check the system and find it is working correctly except for the phone line connection. There is a charge for this testing. Then you call the phone company to find the proper lines and reconnect the system. There is a charge for this visit also. You are also paying for two phone lines that are only used in an emergency and you are paying a company to monitor the system.
Chris Moye is with Guardian Security and does work for Windermere Management. Here is a project he’s working on based on new technology.
Fire Alarm monitoring requires two dedicated phone lines as per NFPA code. In the digital age of communications these analog lines are obsolete and are slowly being phased out, and according to reports released by the FCC this transition will be taking place in the next 3-5 years.
In anticipation of this we have gone through great lengths to develop our AES radio mesh network in the Northwest, and have begun the process of converting our 35,000 monitored accounts. In most jurisdictions the AES radio system is the only approved form of UL Fire monitoring aside from the traditional analog phone lines. Analog lines take between 36-60 seconds to transmit the signals from the fire alarm panel to the central monitoring station. The AES radio system takes 3-6 seconds. Each radio sends and receives signals which create a giant “mesh” of signal paths allowing for hundreds of routes of transmission. This system is self-healing and more reliable than analog lines, and doesn’t have the same issues with service interruptions, cancellations, and outages.
The Economics of the New System (costs may vary from these estimates)
Fire alarm monitoring current cost: $39.50/month
Two phone lines attached to your fire system with an average cost of $40/month per line
Total monitoring cost including 2 phone lines $119.50/month
AES Radio monitoring: $65/month
Canceling 2 phone lines you save, on average: $44.50/month, $534/year and $2670/over a five year contract
Installation of radio system: free
Maintenance/repair/replacement of radio system: free
The only thing we ask for assistance with is the City permits for fire and electrical work, and having a dedicated electrical outlet for the radio to plug into. These permits vary depending on the size of the system. The dedicated outlet is something our techs will facilitate if needed and make all necessary arrangements during installation to have in place.
For more information:
For further details on the AES radio monitoring systems see this web site: http://aes-intellinet.cmadigital.com/technology/how-mesh-radio-technology-works/
There are other options than radio-monitoring that do not use phone lines. I spoke with Jim Vos at Security Solutions and he suggested a cell phone network for security monitoring through companies like AlarmNet by Honeywell. This is the GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) system. One advantage Jim mentioned is the public nature of the system guarantees certain stability with public money supporting the network. For more explanation and details see this web site: http://www.walkerhomesecurity.com/ask/what-is-gsm-alarm-monitoring.php
Save money and have peace of mind knowing your radio or GSM monitory system is reliable, always working, and less expensive.