VOIP Phonelines for Fire Alarm dialout UPS?

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love9099

Member
Location
Salt Lake City
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?
 

wireguru

Senior Member
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?
 

love9099

Member
Location
Salt Lake City
VOIP fire alarm dialing

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.
 

AV ELECTRIC

Senior Member
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 .
 

TLBryant

Member
Location
West Virginia
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.
 

love9099

Member
Location
Salt Lake City
new voip

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.
 

TLBryant

Member
Location
West Virginia
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.
 

wireguru

Senior Member
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.
 

MAK

Senior Member
My experience with VOIP

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.
 

Marlon_S

Member
Fire Alarm Internet Communicators

Fire Alarm Internet Communicators

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

http://www.firelite.com/support/bulletin/FLMU08-02-1.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.
 

ryant35

Member
Location
Cypress, CA
Some manufacturers have UL approved internet communicators. This is an example:

http://www.firelite.com/support/bulletin/FLMU08-02-1.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.
 

hbiss

EC, Westchester, New York NEC: 2014
Location
Hawthorne, New York NEC: 2014
Occupation
EC
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
 
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.)
 

dbuckley

Senior Member
Where I work we comission a new building every couple of years, and although all new buildings use VoIP for phones, and the BMS is now over IP, when the telecomms guys are laying their fibre they still throw in a fifty pair for lifts, FA etc.
 

nhfire77

Senior Member
Location
NH
Does the manufacturer of the communicator say that it will work with anything but plain old copper?
Exactly, no FACP out of the box, without an additional device is compatible with VOIP. Ask any of the tech reps for any brand and they will tell you NO, it won't work

Will it really work,? Maybe. Is maybe good enough for Fire?

The 24 Hours of back up power of course is a huge issue, that until recently has been completely overlooked.


Sell them a new form of communication.

Try AES intellinet radios if the service is available in your area. No phone lines. Universal compatibility for any FACP! Ul 894 9th ed approved http://www.aes-intellinet.com/documents/AES_77447788_TC_000.pdf

Having control over your FACP communication... priceless for me, and it adds to the RMR.
 

nhfire77

Senior Member
Location
NH
(Put all your comm on a single circuit, much less a single wireless link? Not my facility.)
This is just my opinion.

Ultimately the phone line coming into the building is a single circuit (point of possible failure). The cable could be damaged at the street, a pole carrying it could be hit by a truck and come down or the Telco CO/Switching station could be flooded and there would be no phone service for weeks (happened here last year). These are all single points of failure outside the building that could sever communications.

Wireless transceivers that use multiple wireless paths that are redundant are much safer that POTS lines. Sure the transceiver is a single point of possible failure, just like a POTS cable that can be cut. However all the POTS lines eventually go to a single point outside the building before hitting a central station. A wireless wireless mesh network does not need to rely on such a scheme. The system I use has a min of 4 and max of 8 available routes.

Maybe you were referring to GSM? That's another topic with its own challenges.
 
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Ultimately the phone line coming into the building is a single circuit (point of possible failure).
In telco-speak, each POTS line, trunk, etc is a separate circuit. They may all be in a single cable, but they're considered separate. As for physical damage, yes, it can happen but isn't nearly as common as things like internet router crashes and such failures, and telcos are still known for quick repairs when a car takes out a 200pr cable. Redundant cable paths are available in some places, however you pay dearly for them so people accept the risk.

Wireless transceivers that use multiple wireless paths that are redundant are much safer that POTS lines. Sure the transceiver is a single point of possible failure, just like a POTS cable that can be cut. However all the POTS lines eventually go to a single point outside the building before hitting a central station. A wireless wireless mesh network does not need to rely on such a scheme. The system I use has a min of 4 and max of 8 available routes..
I was referring to a single-span wireless link as are commonly used for Internet delivery (e.g. WiMAX). A purpose-built multi-path system is much preferable to any single-path system. Given the choice, I'd take the multi-point radio system, then copper POTS lines (or both), and only VoIP on a non-dedicated path if that was all that's available.
 

hbiss

EC, Westchester, New York NEC: 2014
Location
Hawthorne, New York NEC: 2014
Occupation
EC
This is from Cablevision's TOS as I was saying above:

Cablevision does not support the use of Optimum Voice for Business as a connection between (i) medical alert systems, (ii) any high security monitoring systems (UL 681 or similar) or (iii) fire alarm systems (UL 864 or similar). and the central station monitoring Subscriber must maintain an alternate connection.

I would further add that it won't make any difference if you are using the dialtone off a cable modem or the broadband internet connection. Both are subject to the same reliability issues. So I can't see under what conditions a UL approval for an IP communicator is possible.

-Hal
 
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