You Must Improve Fire Alarm Monitoring at Your Industrial & Chemical Sites With These Tools

By Andrew Erickson

May 8, 2024

Recently, our team, including John Ermatinger and Justin Scruggs from Digitize, visited a client site in Kentucky for a meet and greet, system overview, and technical support visit. During the meeting, we discovered that our client only knew some of the full capabilities of their existing Digitize equipment. We also resolved a few technical issues that had cropped up due to third-party equipment and personnel.

Let's explore the discussions and technical insights shared during this visit, looking particularly at how Digitize fire alarm monitoring solutions work within industrial & chemical sites.

Understanding the Client's Needs: Upgrading Existing Systems

John Ermatinger summarized the visit:

"Justin and I were at their site in KY recently as a meet and greet, to give a system overview, and - as it turned out - it was a technical support visit too. One of 2 Prisms needed a new printer mechanism."

The client's site currently uses a Prism LX system primarily for decoding telegraph signals, but their requirements have expanded. This is a common scenario for many of our clients who initially invest in our systems for specific purposes but later realize the broader applications available.

Prism LX device

The Prism LX is a proven central in-house ("proprietary") alarm monitoring system. It's capable of accepting a wider array of protocols and communication methods than you might think.

With many moving parts, the alarm printer on a Digitize Prism LX is a part that sometimes wears out (long before the durable electronic components in the rest of the Prism). Fortunately, replacement is a straightforward process.

Beyond Telegraph Systems: Unifying All Alarms on a Single Pane of Glass

In an email to the client, John explained the extended capabilities of the Prism LX system:

"The Digitize Prism LX that you have does a lot more than just monitoring telegraph systems. While telegraph is still widely used in Municipal, Industrial, and Military applications around the world, we do so much more."

This was an eye-opener for the client, who was primarily aware of the system's telegraph monitoring capabilities. The Prism LX, however, is designed to monitor a variety of inputs, providing real-time supervision of Fire Alarm Control Panels (FACPs), dry contacts from waterflow valves, sprinkler tampers, and relay contact closures from multiple systems.

Incorporating Modern Communication Methods

John also described the versatility of Digitize systems in handling various communication methods:

"Fiber is just one of the many communication methods available in our monitoring products. You can mix and match single-mode fiber, multi-mode fiber, copper, ethernet, and radio. Our systems allow our clients to utilize the infrastructure they have available."

This flexibility is crucial when you want to upgrade monitoring systems at industrial/chemical or other sites - without overhauling your existing infrastructure. By supporting multiple communication methods like this, Digitize gear further helps you bring everything together onto one alarm monitoring screen.

Customizing Solutions for Diverse Monitoring Needs

During our interaction with the client, it became evident that they had diverse monitoring needs beyond fire alarms. John Ermatinger mentioned via email:

"We have systems with real-time supervision that directly monitor Fire Alarm Control Panels and report point-specific data to the Prism LX and other peripheral outputs like the Remote Annunciator that you have. We can monitor dry contacts from Waterflow valves, Sprinkler Tampers, and relay contact closures from pretty much any system."

Digitize's ability to customize monitoring solutions for various systems, including security and safety controls, ensures that all critical infrastructure is under constant surveillance. This approach to monitoring helps in early detection and quick response to any anomalies, thereby safeguarding your facility and your overall operation.

Addressing Specific Client Concerns: Testing and Maintenance

During the visit, the client raised concerns about testing and maintaining their backup systems. John's notes on a follow-up call with the client illustrate this:

"The client wanted some direction on how to perform the switchover between the Prisms. Per information provided by this client, they should just be able to throw the switches. He was a little unsure about performing a test of the backup Prism at this time."

Regular testing and maintenance are critical for ensuring system reliability. Digitize provides detailed support and guidance to help clients perform these tasks confidently. Our systems are designed to facilitate easy switchover and testing procedures, minimizing downtime and operational disruption.

Resolving a Strange Communication Issue with USA Tech Support

The visit also involved troubleshooting communication issues between the Prism LX and the Remote Annunciator (RA). John noted the following in his trouble ticket:

"Spoke with two client reps about a Comm issue between their Prism LX and their RA PC. They also said the horn test was not working, SST transmit function from the RA and the Prism LX... Spent some time troubleshooting.
They sent several pictures of the RA and Prism. The RA had an active alarm, All Clear Box 2. The Prism was clear, no active events. However, there were several system errors on the thermal tape. 55, 76, and 20000FF3B. The 3 errors were related to D-LAN comm to the RA. 76 is D-LAN ethernet connection. 55 is no D-LAN devices reporting. 20000FF3B is RA Comm link down. At this time, communication to the RA is working as noted by running 6666 04 Function printout on the Prism thermal tape. The Prism was receiving "hello" handshakes from the RA. We turned of the diagnostic printout by pressing 6666 00 Func. On the RA, a normal update from the Prism did not clear the active alarm event. We logged into the RA as an Admnistrator and use the - icon to force the event to history.
D-LAN hardware card with RJ-45 port

The D-LAN for Prism LX enables IP-based communication for alarm data.

In the end, the root cause turned out to be fairly simple:

They noted the power company was working at the facility. They had cut power to the plant horn. This was likely the cause of the horn test not working. It may also have contributed to the D-LAN faults.

The ability to resolve such issues promptly is essential for maintaining the integrity of the monitoring system. The Prism LX's D-LAN communication option ensures reliable data transmission between devices, reducing the risk of communication failures and enhancing overall system performance​​.

Monitor All of Your Alarms on One Screen with Digitize

This visit to the client site in Kentucky, and emails afterward, is a great illustration of Digitize's fire/security alarm monitoring systems.

To explore how Digitize can help you enhance your monitoring systems, contact us today. Our team of experts is ready to assist you in designing and implementing "perfect-fit" solutions that make your job easier while improving the safety of your campus.

Email Digitize at or simply call us now at 1-800-693-0351

Andrew Erickson

Andrew Erickson

Andrew Erickson is an Application Engineer at DPS Telecom, a manufacturer of semi-custom remote alarm monitoring systems based in Fresno, California. Andrew brings more than 17 years of experience building site monitoring solutions, developing intuitive user interfaces and documentation, and...Read More