Comparison: FACP monitoring via third-party service or in-house server
By Andrew Erickson
September 12, 2022
If you have a FACP (Fire Alarm Control Panel) in your building or group of buildings, it's important to monitor it 7x24x365. This will ensure that any alarms are collected and that first responders can arrive on the scene quickly and safely.
There are two different ways to monitor your FACP
You have two primary choices here, which will feel very familiar if you've purchased almost any software in the last 15 years:
1. Use a third-party service
There are many companies that offer this type of service, and they will be able to provide you with real-time information about which alarms are active. This does involve extra fees, but it does afford a certain level of convenience. This can be especially important if you don't have a 24-hour monitoring center within your organization.
2. Use a central server that you control
This software allows you to collect data from multiple FACP panels and view it in one place. It also provides real-time updates, so you can always be sure that you're seeing the most up-to-date information. This option does require some initial setup and configuration, but it can be a cost-effective way to monitor your FACP if you have the in-house resources to do so. If you have medium or large facility (like a university, military base, or city) and at least a small purchasing budget, a server like Prism LX with a long history of widespread use is probably your best option.
Whichever route you choose, monitoring your FACP 7x24x365 is crucial to ensuring a fast and safe response in the event of an emergency. It's your duty to choose an effective external service or, ideally, a proven central server that is 100% under your control.
You must choose a monitoring option that is compatible with all of your fire panels
It's crucial that you select a monitoring service or device that is 100% compatible with each and every FACP you have. This is because every FACP must be monitored in order for first responders to have the most up-to-date information about the emergency scene.
Your primary concern here is about transport, whether that's IP, serial-based ASCII communication, radio, or anything else. You need the infrastructure to carry alarm signals from each FACP to the central monitoring device (or the internet if you're paying for a third-party alarm monitoring service).
There are also different protocols that have been used over the many decades of industry history. The central monitoring that you select must be able to receive data in each protocol used by your fire panels.
Make sure to do your research and select a monitoring service or device that will work with all of your FACPs. This way, you can be sure that you're always getting the most up-to-date information.
Do you have "Addressable" or "Non-Addressable" FACPs?
There are two major categories of FACP, describing whether or not they know precisely where an alarm has been triggered:
An addressable FACP has a unique address for each initiating device, so first responders can quickly identify the source of an alarm. This is the more advanced option, and it's typically used in larger buildings or groups of buildings.
A non-addressable FACP does not have unique addresses for each initiating device. This means that first responders will have to search for the source of an alarm, which can delay the response time. Non-addressable FACPs are typically used in smaller buildings or groups of buildings.
Unsure of which type you have?
If you're not sure which type of FACP you have, you can check the documentation that came with the panel or contact the manufacturer.
This doesn't directly relate to your central monitoring choice, exactly, but it's worth noting that older ("legacy") FACP tend to have older transports and protocols. Therefore, you can expect a greater need for legacy compatibility if you have a lot of non-addressable fire panels that are still in operation.
Prism LX is a popular choice at universities, military bases, and municipal governments
The Prism LX is a high-quality FACP monitoring server that is widely used in universities, military bases, and municipal governments. It has a long history of reliability and performance, and it can be configured to work with nearly any type of FACP.
Additionally, Prism LX offers extensive reporting and logging features, so you can always have a clear understanding of what's happening at your facility.
It's useful in most scenarios, but the Prism LX is especially effective when you have some amount of legacy fire alarm gear in your system. As one example, Digitize engineers have literally built and maintained the ability for the Prism to interpret incoming telegraph signals.
A single server that monitors everything from telegraph to phone dialers to modern LAN is a blessing in an industry full of fractured & closed technology standards.
Prism LX is a proven 8th-gen solution
The System 3505 Prism LX, the eighth generation of our alarm reporting and monitoring system, is advanced and flexible, and accepts signals from virtually any alarm-input device. This makes it a great choice for facilities that have a mix of modern and legacy fire alarm gear.
The Prism LX can be configured to work with nearly any type of FACP, and it offers extensive reporting and logging features. So if you're looking for a single server that can monitor everything from telegraph to phone dialers to modern LAN, the Prism LX is a great choice.
Secure Smart Phone Tethering is a feature that allows you to connect your smartphone to the Prism LX to get remote support. This is one less thing you have to do, and it's also totally optional if you have a security policy that forbids this type of external connectivity.
Digitize has a long history of providing reliable FACP monitoring solutions, and the Prism LX is our most advanced option yet. If you're looking for a high-quality FACP monitoring server, the Prism LX is a great choice.
Digitize is under new ownership as of June 2022, so this is a very exciting time full of new monitoring options for you.
Give me a call to discuss your FACP monitoring choices
Call me now at 1-800-523-7232 or email me at digitize-inc.com to discuss the many options you have for monitoring your fire panels.
If you're looking for a FACP monitoring service and you don't know where to start, don't worry – we're here to help. Digitize has a long history of providing reliable fire alarm monitoring services, and our engineers are experts in working with all types of FACP.
Give us a call at 1-800-523-7232 and we'll be happy to discuss your options and find the best solution for your needs. Alternatively, you can email me at email@example.com and we'll get back to you quickly.
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 16 years of experience building site monitoring solutions, developing intuitive user interfaces and documentation, and...Read More