Common Fire Alarm Trouble Code Definitions
Fire alarms are an essential part of every building's safety system. They are designed to detect the presence of fire or smoke and alert the occupants to evacuate the building. However, sometimes fire alarms can experience trouble codes that can be confusing for building managers and occupants.
Are you responsible for the maintenance of a fire alarm system? If so, it’s important to understand the common trouble codes that may appear on your fire alarm panel. By familiarizing yourself with these codes, you can detect and resolve any problems. You'll resolve them as quickly as possible and ensure that your building is properly protected by the alarm.
As opposed to "alarm codes" that indicate an actual fire detection, fire alarm trouble codes are different. They occur when a problem is detected within the system. This could include any issues with smoke detectors, wiring malfunctions, ground fault issues, or other failure conditions. When the fire alarm panel receives a trouble signal from one of these components, it will display an associated error code.
Let's now look at many different common labels of trouble conditions and talk about what they mean. I've assembled this list by reviewing several actual reference guides published by fire alarm control panel manufacturers.
As a result, you likely will not have a 100% match on your FACP (fire panel). What this list will help you to do is understand the meaning of a code. You paid good money for your fire panel, so you should understand what it is saying.
Simply search for the code that you do see on your own fire panel.
Before we get into specific trouble conditions and their codes, understand that every "trouble" message has a counterpart "restore" message. Instead of ending in the word "trouble", it will instead end with "restore".
This is your signal (to your central station or proprietary monitoring server) that the trouble condition has ended. Everything related to that trouble alert is now OK.
With that out of the way, let's now look at specific trouble conditions like will trigger trouble codes.
The "Device Missing" trouble code indicates that there is a missing device in the fire alarm system. This might be a smoke detector or heat sensor. This can be caused by a malfunctioning device, incorrect installation, or human error.
When this trouble code appears, it's essential to investigate the missing device's location. You must then ensure that it is repaired, replaced, or reinstalled promptly.
The "Maintenance Required" trouble code indicates that the fire alarm system is due for routine maintenance or inspection. It's important to follow the manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedule. This ensures that the fire alarm system's proper functioning and compliance with local fire codes and regulations.
The "Panel Trouble" trouble code indicates that there is a problem with the fire alarm control panel itself. This can be caused by a malfunctioning component, faulty wiring, or a software issue. When this trouble code appears, it's important to investigate and repair the problem promptly. The fire alarm system's proper functioning depends on the control panel's correct operation.
The "Supervisory Trouble" trouble code indicates that there is a problem with the fire alarm system's supervisory circuits. These circuits are designed to monitor other systems in the building, such as sprinklers or elevators. They can detect issues such as low water pressure or elevator malfunctions.
When this trouble code appears, it's important to investigate the cause of the supervisory trouble. You must then ensure that the affected system is repaired promptly
"AC Power Trouble"
This tells you that something has been disrupted with your normal AC power supply. The mere fact that you're receiving this message indicates you're running on backup batteries or some other redundant power source.
"Low Battery" or "Battery Trouble"
As you might have expected from the above, this is where the UPS/backup battery can report that it has some kind of fault.
The "Low Battery" or "Battery Trouble" trouble code usually indicates that the fire alarm's backup battery is low or needs to be replaced. This can happen when the battery is old or has not been replaced on schedule. When this trouble code appears, it's essential to replace the battery promptly to ensure the fire alarm's proper functioning.
"Battery Charger Trouble"
Your batteries themselves are distinct from the charging system that charges them from the AC power supply. Any problem with the charging system can be indicated using this separate trouble code.
This indicates a ground fault in the system. It could mean that one of the wires for your fire alarm has become compromised, leading to electrical current traveling through an unexpected pathway.
Grounding problems can be difficult to trace, so definitely keep in mind that there could be more than one section of wire that is damaged. All areas causing ground faults must be repaired before this trouble code will be resolved.
"Smoke Detector Trouble"
If you're receiving this code, it means there's an issue with one of your smoke detectors. This can be anything from a low battery to physical damage. A break in the wire (as monitored by a simple termination resistor) can also trigger this trouble code.
"IP Reporting Ethernet Trouble"
Modern fire panels will generally have reporting via LAN/Ethernet (which can be routed over the public internet). You'll almost always have a backup reporting path as required by code. Still, it's never good to be "running on your spare tire without knowing it." This trouble code tells you that the system is currently unable to report alarm/trouble/restoration messages via Ethernet/LAN.
Fire panels often contain a DACT (Digital Alarm Communicator Transmitter) or have one attached as an external accessory. The DACT is a mediator between older communication outputs from older panels (serial, dial, etc.) and modern output protocols. A problem with your DACT will sever this vital mediation.
Obviously, receiving this message at all means that you still have some kind of alternate reporting path active. Remember also that you may have more than once DACT, so the message may be numbered like "DACT 1 Trouble" or "DACT 2 Restore". Some systems also split the
"Open Circuit" or "Open Loop"
The "Open Circuit" or "Open Loop" trouble code indicates that there is a break in the circuit or loop of the fire alarm system. This can happen due to a loose wire connection, a faulty device, or a damaged cable. This trouble code requires immediate attention as it means that the fire alarm system is not functioning correctly. It's crucial to investigate and repair the problem to ensure the fire alarm's proper operation.
The "Ground Fault" trouble code indicates that there is a problem with the electrical wiring of the fire alarm system. It typically occurs when the electrical circuit's hot wire comes into contact with the ground wire or another conductive surface. This trouble code requires immediate attention as it can cause the fire alarm system to malfunction, and there is a risk of fire.
The "Sensor Fault" trouble code indicates that there is a problem with one or more of the fire alarm sensors. It can be caused by a dirty or dusty sensor or a malfunctioning sensor. When this trouble code appears, it's essential to investigate and clean or replace the sensors as needed to ensure the fire alarm's proper functioning.
The "Communication Fault" trouble code indicates that there is a problem with the communication between the fire alarm control panel and the sensors or other devices. This can happen due to a faulty cable or communication module or a configuration error. This trouble code requires immediate attention. It can cause the fire alarm system to malfunction, and there is a risk of fire.
You must understand trouble codes to do your job
By understanding the common fire alarm trouble codes, you can take the necessary steps quickly. You'll ensure that any issues are promptly addressed and your building is adequately protected. For further assistance in recognizing and resolving any errors, consult a qualified professional or your fire protection provider.
It’s essential to understand what the codes mean and be able to quickly identify them on your fire alarm panel. This will ensure that any troubleshooting can be completed as soon as possible and that your building is well protected from potential fires. Familiarize yourself with the different trouble codes associated with fire alarms to keep your building safe.
If you're unsure how to address a fire alarm trouble code, it's best to contact a professional fire alarm technician to investigate and repair the problem promptly. Remember, a well-maintained fire alarm system can save lives in the event of a fire.
Call Digitize for help with your fire panels, including trouble codes
Digitize engineers are experts in fire alarm systems. Although we manufacture and sell central monitoring servers and mediation devices, that necessarily means that we have experience with fire panels (FACP).
To get help with understanding trouble codes or anything else, give me a call at 800-523-7232 or email me at email@example.com
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UPDATE: Get Even More Alarm Codes
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