How To Leverage Your Fire Alarm Monitoring System Redundancy

By Ziad Alezabi

February 2, 2024

Fire alarm monitoring systems are something that will exist as long as the potential for fire hazards does. To ensure the safety of your assets and the people in your facility, it is crucial to have a reliable fire alarm monitoring system that is self-supervised and easily visible.

One way to do this is redundancy. It is vital to be redundant at every level of your fire alarm monitoring, whether it be the headend, the communication, the sensors, power supply units, or different alerting methods.

This may include a slave-master method where a slave unit will turn off the master unit and become the main functioning unit. Another example is annunciating to multiple dispatches or rerouting your data communication to a different site if the main site fails to receive a message.

Let's dive into the different examples of how you can use redundancy and dual-redundancy to bolster your fire alarm monitoring reliability.

The Different Redundancy Types

System Level Redundancy

System-level redundancy means adding two of the same components to ensure that your system operates correctly if a device equipment occurs. This ensures redundancy across the entire system and not just one piece of equipment.

The different components of system-level redundancy are:

  • Dual FACPs: having redundant FACPs will give you fault tolerance. This means that if one of your FACPs malfunctions, the other FACP will take over control, similar to how headend units operate. This gives you enough time to go out and fix your primary FACP without hampering your operations.
  • Multiple communication routes: This is different from communication protocols. For example, if one communication route isn't working, such as an Ethernet cable, you should have a backup radio communication method.
  • Backup power: A redundant power supply is essential to every device. Your power supply needs to offer an emergency mechanism for power outages. Monitoring equipment that isn't supplied with power is a hazard.
  • Monitoring station redundancy: The final display that maintenance staff looks at to determine where to go is important. If one CGRMS or Dispatchers goes offline, you would need a backup to kick in.

Component Level Redundancy

The main difference between system and component-level redundancy is that you would want to make an entire redundant system instead of just duplicating one device. For example, a system-level redundancy would be duplicating bi-directional fire department alarm acknowledgment in a police station. This would most likely include CGRMs, a Dispatcher, a head monitoring unit, etc.

In contrast, a component-level redundancy would include two backup battery systems to your headend unit. When you think that something is "dual redundant" it might come off as a redundant statement at first (pun intended).

A dual redundant system, however, would mean that you have two buildings, each with its system connected to the other. The two buildings would have their individual systems equipped with redundant components, hence dual-redundancy.

The key difference between the two is:

  • Component-level redundancy prevents individual components from not doing their job
  • System-level redundancy prevents an entire system from not transmitting sensitive data.

You will see this installation a lot in most army bases, where fire safety departments cannot afford to not communicate an alarm.

Communication Level Redundancy

We've discussed communication paths and how you need more than one. You also need to make sure that your communication methods are different. This could mean that you opt for mesh radio.

Mesh radio is a nodular communication method that operates on a web of nodes. This means that if one node is broken in the network, data can work around it and still reach its target. Mesh radio is known for reliable communication data thanks to its robust structure.

This can also include primary and backup communication methods such as VoIP, IP, cellular, traditional phone lines, etc.

Additional Redundancies

Many things in your fire alarm monitoring system can benefit from redundancy. This includes the following:

  • Redundant sensors
  • Redundant displays
  • Redundant batteries
  • Redundant power supply
  • Redundant communication
  • Redundant connection

Challenges in Redundancy Integration

Separating Communication Channels

Problem: Understandably, systems become complex when you use redundancy. How do you ensure dual FACPs communicate effectively without interfering with each other? Setting up multiple communication routes that avoid interfering with each other can be complicated.

Solution: To fix this, your dual FACPs should be on separate communication channels. If they are on the same channel, give them a different frequency if possible. Each FACP should always have a different IP.

Protecting Your Budget

Problem: Budgets can be another key concern when you are duplicating an entire system to a new building. Because it's costly, some people might think twice.

Solution: If you are backed by a good manufacturer, however, you will be able to integrate bulk discounts, integration, and technical help.

Frequent Management

Problem: You have to think about maintaining your equipment once it is installed. dual-redundancy means doubling or quadrupling the equipment that you need to upkeep. This is an obvious hassle.

Solution: The first step to your solution would be having a reliable headend unit that alerts you to any failures in your system. Your second step would be to buy your equipment from a manufacturer that offers text-2-cell via email gateway capabilities so that your workers can deal with these problems promptly and exactly. Also, look for a manufacturer that is willing to give you free tech support virtually.

Upgrading Your System And Equipment

Problem: With time, newer technology comes out. More efficient and less worn-out ways of fire alarm monitoring become available. All these upgrades could become a piling expense if you aren't careful.

Solution: Good fire alarm monitoring manufacturers give distributors distributor discounts that enable them to create a profit margin. Make sure to also ask for device trade-in discounts.

Digitize Gives Your Affordable Redundancy

Digitize is an industry-tested fire alarm monitoring system that is adamant about giving distributors and end clients everything they need for success whether it be in-depth documentation and expert tech support to support our clients, or offering you deals that can get you started with a profit margin.

Digitize wants you to treat it as your own personal engineer. We have a full arsenal of mediation and connecting equipment to help link your headend units, backup batteries, etc.

If you would like to learn more about how to set up a dual-redundant system or if you have any questions about how to do so, please feel free to contact me. Even if we do not reach a compromise, I will do my best to point you in the right direction.

Call me at 1-800-693-0351 or Email me at

Ziad Alezabi

Ziad Alezabi

Ziad Alezabi is a seasoned marketing writer renowned for his expertise in crafting compelling content and strategic marketing communications. With a rich background in the industry, Ziad has contributed significantly to various projects, delivering engaging blog articles, impactful videos, and...Read More