Today’s fire panels are just not the same

SSN Staff  - 
Tuesday, June 1, 2004

Everyone marketing a commercial fire alarm system, has a little, one-or two-loop addressable panel, which probably sells for somewhere around $1,000 to $2,000. The major problem is that these panels are stamped out like cookies at Christmas, along with a “fixed design” software package.

The issue is there is no flexibility, in either the hardware or software. Let me give you an example. I have to provide a system to a customer, with a large manufacturing plant, and an equally large distribution warehouse about half a mile away. I currently have a system in the warehouse, but not in the manufacturing plant. The manufacturing plant head of security wants me to provide him with 22 relay outputs at the rear of the warehouse, where his multiplex loop comes into the building. The 22 outputs are the waterflow rise / waterflow indicators, in the warehouse, which they want to report to the manufacturing fire panel.

In the addressable industrial fire alarm system that I would have used from my former employer 10 years ago, it was a simple matter of putting either four relay output transponders at the back of the warehouse or a 24-relay module with a loop decoder.

Now, with present-day hardware, the only way to do it is to use a single addressable relay module that is made to mount in a double-gang electrical box. This means that I will have a cabinet on the wall, four-to five-feet high, filled with 22 of these little relays. Also, I will have to make up adapter plates to mount them into the cabinet.

The present-day systems, for the most part, are limited to purely single-point input modules and single-point output modules. The fire alarm industry is flying backwards.

Having sold systems in the past to Caterpillar Tractor, Ford Motor Company, University of California in Los Angeles, etc., I fail to understand how these small panels can satisfy the needs of the large, industrial customer.

Fred Clinger
Fire Alarm Systems Engineer
Mead Electronics
Bucyrus, Ohio
We want to hear from you
Security Systems News invites its subscribers to share comments on news stories or trends impacting the physical security market.

Are you fed up with the false alarm problem in the security industry and trying to take action at your company? Tell us about it. Are you concerned about labor pool issues and the lack of qualified technicians in your service area?

We want to hear from you and share your story with others. Send an email to Security Systems News at