What do I need for fire alarm?

Proprietary vs Non-Proprietary

Addressable vs Conventional

Synchronization, what is it?

What is an area of rescue and do I really need it?

Do I need Monitoring?

Check out our Fire Alarm training center and view some of the panels we offer.

How much fire alarm do I need?

How much and what type of coverage you need depends on the type of occupency and size of your building. There are a lot of factors that need to be considered to make sure that your system will meet building, fire, and ADA codes. Call or email us to get a free quote based on your needs.

Proprietary versus Non-Proprietary

The Non-Proprietary system is a fire system that anyone with an electrical license may purchase and install. There is nothing wrong with these systems and many are very good systems such as Firelite. Installers may also take factory run training classes to learn more about the systems and how to install them. There is no guarantee, however, that the people who install, service, or make changes to the system are trained to do so.

There are two types of proprietary systems. The first type is manuafcturer proprietary. This is a system where the manufacturer is also the compny that does the installation. This means that there are certain things, such as adding a smoke detector or programming, that only the manufacturer can do. This limits the end user to a single company for certain types of service.

The last type of system is the distributor proprietary system. This type of system must be installed and serviced by an authorized distrubtor of the manufacturer. These companies are privately owned and operated and there are generaly several from which you can choose in your area. This option gives the end user a variety of companies from which to choose while guaranteeing that the company has factory trained personel and are qualified to work on the system.

Addressable versus Conventional

A conventional system uses zones to monitor smoke detectors, pull stations, and other initiating devices. Each zone requires a new wire to be run and all the devices on a single wire report the same thing to the panel. If one device is removed, such as a smoke detector head being removed from its base, every detector after it may be rendered inoperable. If a smoke detector goes into alarm, the panel may read ZONE 1. The person looking at the panel must now look at the zone list which may say something like: "Zone 1: West wing smoke detectors."  The person would then need to walk down the west wing looking at each detector to see which one has a red light on. These panels are less expensive to put in for parts, but take more wire, are more time consuming to install and use, and are more difficult to use.

An addressable panel uses a single 2 conductor wire to attach numerous devices to the panel. This number ranges from 25 to 312 depending on the panel. Each device has it's own unique address and reports to the panel as an indidual point. When a smoke detector goes into alarm it may read: "1st Floor  West Wing Stair A   Smoke Detector" If a detector is removed from it base, the panel report which detector is missing and all other devices will continue to operate normally. These panels are generally easier to operate.


Synchronization is is when the strobes within a given area flash together at the same time. The purpose of this is to protect those that have epilepsie from having a seizure during a fire alarm caused by random flashes of light. Strobe synchronization had been require by NFPA-72 code since 1999.

Horns should also synchronize in a three beat temporal pattern.

Area of Rescue

An area of rescue, sometimes called an area of refuge, is a two way communication system. These are required by the americans with disabilities act in locations where someone in a wheel chair may not be able to get out in an emergency. This includes buildings with loading docks without wheel chair ramps and some stairwells. These systems may be required to call a central station or they may call 911. This decision is up to the local fire marshal.


Most fire alarm systems are required to be monitored by a central station including any system that has a sprinkler system connected to it. Central stations must be UL listed for fire alarm.

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