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    VOIP Phonelines for Fire Alarm dialout UPS?

    We have an installation that just switched all their lines to VOIP, they did not tell us about it and normally the panels self test every day. One day the VOIP system went down and we stopped getting test signals from the 10 buildings on site, later we found out it was due to the system shutting down and not being reset. They corrected this and now we are getting test signals. We are used to using Analog phone lines where we can set up line siezure using an RJ31X block. We contacted the State Fire Marshal and we were told VOIP was ok as long as it met the rest of the codes. The issue I see is they do not have a 24 hour battery backup UPS on their VOIP system to avoid the kind of problem that occured. Analog lines would not go down if there was a power outage. Can you help me with a code reference to support this UPS backup?

    #2
    I wouldnt trust voip only for a fire alarm, what happens when the internet goes down? Make them get a landline or cellular backup. After the change to Voip, are the RJ31Xs even still wired correctly?

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      #3
      VOIP fire alarm dialing

      Your right , I don't trust the VOIP either and no the RJ31X blocks had to be re-wired and I wrote up a long report listing the liability and I also notified the local fire marshal of my concerns. So I think we have covered the issues but still thought that the VOIP system should have the 24 hour backup just like the panel does.

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        #4
        I had my phone line ported to my cell phone and for some reason me and a friends voip phone system cant make a call to the ported cell phone. att could not explain why this was occurring a first for them . All other cell phone and land lines work . I would probably not trust this as a primary or emergency point of contact .

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          #5
          What you have to keep in mind with VoIP and alarm systems is that the VoIP Modem is now the phone demark -- so RJ31X jacks need to be checked for correct line seizure and verified that they are still ahead of any premise phone/fax sharing that line.

          Understanding and embracing VoIP and Ethernet communications can be a money maker for alarm dealers and fire alarm companies.

          I recently converted the all the fire alarm systems for property management company that owns 43 building n the same commercial office park over to Ethernet and GSM communications. The conversion is going to save them tens of thousands in phone bills. They are able to cancel 86 phone lines so the cost to convert/upgrade will pay for itself in a couple of years.

          We made money on the equipment sale, installation, and increased monitoring fees.

          New communication infrastructures are here and it won't go back to how it was. We have to keep up with technology, understand the vulnerabilities, and protect the systems from them by using redundancy and UPS.

          As with any new product, methods, or technologies;The Code will catch up in time.

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            #6
            new voip

            The UPS on the system is a $1300 dollar UPS that will hold the system for about an hour from what the phone guy told me. My worry is if it goes out it won't meet the secondary power supply 24 hour requirment and apparently one that will is much more money. I did mention cellular backup and the Radio monitoring as well. We also have the Internet monitoring module for the Bosch panels that poles every 75 seconds but we have been getting lots of troubles on those accounts since their Internet comes up and down quite often. Thank you for your answers.

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              #7
              You can't always prevent customer ignorance or out right complacency.

              We carry a lot of liability in the fire alarm industry so CYA by writing a clause into your contracts that states the owner/customer is responsible for providing and maintaining the required communications wiring/infrastructure and secondary power. We can only go so far. It is no different than when a customer cancels a phone line and the DACT can't communicate with the central station any longer. Clearly not the contractors fault, but have the customer's signature will go a long way in clearing up who is responsible and it makes it easier to collect $$$ for the service call.

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                #8
                Thank you

                Thank you these are great ideas and we do need to gear up for the technology as you pointed out.

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                  #9
                  Originally posted by AV ELECTRIC View Post
                  I had my phone line ported to my cell phone and for some reason me and a friends voip phone system cant make a call to the ported cell phone. att could not explain why this was occurring a first for them . All other cell phone and land lines work . I would probably not trust this as a primary or emergency point of contact .
                  I had that happen when porting a number away from ATT, they (ATT) did not remove the number from their routing table (or whatever its called) making any calls coming through att think that att still held the number which resulted in a number out of service message.

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                    #10
                    My experience with VOIP

                    My company has a sight that had converted to VOIP a few years ago. We have about 23 burglar alarm systems on this sight and worked with the VOIP company to get everything running correctly. The problems with this sight now are sometimes the ATA devices lose dial tone but still put out voltage which makes the alarm panels think a phone line is still active and functioning. Another problem is the I.T. department is responsible for the VOIP system and thus has replaced some ATA's with different models that appear to have a problem with the signals sent from the alarm systems. Sometimes the signals sent will get through to a central station or their onsite receiver but it has not proven to be reliable.
                    This would have been a lot easier to rectify if IT had been more willing to work with us on these problems instead of changing them out to a cheaper, untested model.

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                      #11
                      Fire Alarm Internet Communicators

                      Some manufacturers have UL approved internet communicators. This is an example:

                      http://www.firelite.com/support/bull...LMU08-02-1.pdf

                      They are not common and some municipalities may not like the idea, but they are approved. Plus, it save the customer money by not requiring them to have a dedicated phone line in some cases.

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                        #12
                        Originally posted by Marlon_S View Post
                        Some manufacturers have UL approved internet communicators. This is an example:

                        http://www.firelite.com/support/bull...LMU08-02-1.pdf

                        They are not common and some municipalities may not like the idea, but they are approved. Plus, it save the customer money by not requiring them to have a dedicated phone line in some cases.

                        Target stores now use this product to communicate with their own central station. They also use one of their VOIP lines as a back-up.


                        I was discussing this with one of my contractors looking to replace the 2 phone lines in 50+ Vons stores with VOIP or an IP-DACT. I think it would be the end user's responsibility to use a reliable internet provider.

                        One of the questions that came up was when you have 2 phone lines, they leave the building to the phone provider's service as 2 separate pairs of wires. Both lines on a VOIP leave on one T1, cable or DSL line. But on the other hand, if construction broke the phone lines they would probably break all of them them anyway. So mention that to the AHJ as an argument and then will they ask to have the phone lines provided in 2 separate locations of the building?

                        There are problems and possible failure points in all 3 types of communication.

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                          #13
                          Does the manufacturer of the communicator say that it will work with anything but plain old copper?

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                            #14
                            We have an installation that just switched all their lines to VOIP,

                            I think what you are really saying is that they changed to dial tone provided by a cable company via a cable modem. That may or may not be VoIP and shouldn't be called that, but at any rate that kind of situation shouldn't be confused with using something like the Fire-Lite IP communicator.

                            So as for "cable company telephone", I believe if you can find and then dig deep enough into their terms of service you will find a disclaimer about the reliability of their service and that it may not function properly with alarm monitoring services. They recommend that it not be used with fire systems.

                            I would further question the reliability of using a broadband connection, particularly that supplied by a cable company since it still relys on the same type modem and connection that provides dial tone. Further, the broadband service is dependent on the public internet.

                            I can't be sure from what was posted, but the approval for use of an IP communicator such as the Fire-Lite may be dependent upon a dedicated IP internet connection directly to the central station, not the public internet unless there is a redundent backup. That would be the only thing sensible in my mind from a reliability standpoint.

                            -Hal

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                              #15
                              Back in the day... every decent-size PBX out there would have a couple of POTS lines so that if the PBX failed or some/all of the trunk circuits went away, there was a path. There were also power-fail transfer boards so that when the PBX batteries finally died, those lines would cut straight over to plain analog phones.

                              IMHO it's false economy to eliminate -all- 2-wire direct copper POTS lines from a facility. Even the best data centers and internet providers don't approach the relaibility of POTS. (Put all your comm on a single circuit, much less a single wireless link? Not my facility.)

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