Understanding alarm systems for property managers

Alarms come in various brands with different features.

Alarms come in various brands with different features.


A Practical guide to understanding security systems
Made specifically for Property Managers and Owners

By Larry Love – Peak Alarm

Rather than reading the entire booklet just turn to the section you need.

Fire Alarm Systems –Zoned – Conventional 2
Fire Alarm Systems – Addressable – 2
Fire Alarm Systems – Analog Addressable – 3
Battery calculations and voltage line drops and why they are important -4
Elevator Recall/Monitoring (Fire alarm can recall elevator to floor without fire) -5
Communicators- DACT – Dialers – IP Internet – Radio – Cellular -5
Central Station -7
Customer Information sheet 8 then prices for monitoring options page -9
Mass Notification – Speaker Strobes / Voice Evacuation /Fire Phones -10
CCTV – Camera Systems – Analog / IP / DVRs / NVRs -11
Coax – Cable – Low voltage wire – A brief overview – 12
Access Control – 13
Security / Intrusion – 14
Partitions -14
Security Options not commonly understood- 15
Security Codes and understanding how they can/should be programmed-16
Electrical Engineer information and why it is important to talk to them-17
Code info such as NFPA 72, NFPA 70 (NEC) and Life safety 101 (ADA) & R710 –18
Maintenance note – extend the life of your system-19
Supplemental information 20-21
General Terms: 22

A typical zoned fire alarm system will monitor a small building where just a few zones are needed such as monitoring if there is water flowing from the fire sprinkler system (FLOW ALARM) and whether or not the water valves have been turned off or tampered with (TAMPER). Typically you have at least one smoke detector and at least one pull station on a system such as this. This would be a 4 zone conventional panel and normally these smaller panels cost much less than a large expandable system. Horn/Strobes will normally be installed to warn the occupants to evacuate. Horn/Strobes are normally red although they can be white and they have fire written on the side and they make noise and flash. To install a zoned system the wire will be installed from each device back to the panel.

• Trouble shooting tips – If a sprinkler tamper valve is shut off or even turned partially it could set the supervisory signal off.

• When the dispatchers at the central station receive a supervisory signal such as a TAMPER they don’t dispatch the fire department they just call to inform you that the water may be shut off so you can correct the issue. If you cannot correct it yourself it is prudent to call for service
since this is a liability issue if there is a fire and the system does not function.

• When a FLOW signal is received Fire Department is dispatched

Fire Alarm Systems – Addressable
An addressable panel will have one circuit where all the input devices are connected and the panel will be programmed to recognize each point individually and communicate this to the central station. This midrange option is normally slightly more money than a zoned system and a bit less than an analog addressable system. Normally addressable systems are required on buildings over one story.

Fire Alarm – Analog Addressable
An analog addressable panel will report individual points just like the addressable system although it also can report additional information such as “how full of dirt the smokes are” which is the obscuration level and the heat detectors may even report the exact temperature and what room they are in. Many analog systems allow you to get a list of the sensitivity of each smoke detector. This allows your maintenance department to schedule which smokes need to be cleaned. Even analog addressable fire alarm systems have different levels of panels. If your building will never have over 127 points then you may not need the panel that can expand to 1500 points.

Some devices and appliances that may be connected to your Fire Alarm
Manual Alarm boxes / Pull boxes / Pull stations (Should take two actions to activate)
Smoke detectors – 24 volt DC There are not batteries in these smokes –backup in panel
Heat detectors – resettable and non resettable many come with specific temperatures
Remote Annunciator – Keypad – These can notify you of exactly what the main panel sees
Duct Detectors monitor if there is smoke in the ducts and they can shut down the airhandlers
Duct Detectors may have RTS remote test switches mounted in an accessible area.
*Many times the DD are build into the RTU units although they will need a MM
MM – Monitor modules or input modules can monitor almost any device
Output relays CM or R – These relays provide an output to activate equipment
PIV – Post indicator valve (Where you can turn off the water to the entire building)
Horn/Strobes – Strobe only units (typical for restrooms) – Speaker Strobes- (Warn to leave)
Door Holder magnets that hold doors open will release upon fire alarm dropping doors closed
Tie in to specific dampers to stop air flow
Smoke Control system allows you to move smoke from one area to another or vent it out
Flow – Fire Alarm connects to monitor the fire sprinkler system if water is flowing
Tamper – Fire Alarm connects to monitor if the water gets turned off – Supervisory
DACT Dialer /Communicator – IP – RADIO – CELLULAR – Tied to Panel for communication
Interface with access control or security system for specific purposes
Interface with access control will release maglocks upon fire alarm activation
Power Supplies to provide additional power for things like Horn/Strobes or smokes

Battery calculations and voltage line drop calculations
We don’t need to detail the technical aspects of battery calculations other than to explain that a licensed and trained Fire Alarm expert will calculate the current draw of each device to make sure that the power supplies provided will power all the devices and appliances and that there will be enough power even on long wire runs so that the last appliances or horn/strobes on the circuit will function.

Most of the time you would not install more than 8 horn/strobes on one circuit but there are several factors to this figure because if your wire runs are longer then you might only be able to install 4 or 5 and if you use high candela horn/strobes for a very large room then the figures change as well.

When a contractor installs a 6amp power supply and there are 100 horn/strobes that draw 200mA each on the system that adds up to over 20amps so the system would not function, it would not pass a fire marshal test and you would be required to install additional power supplies to make it work.

You could install 8 Horn/Strobes on a 500 foot wire run using 14 gauge cable but you could not install 8 Horn/Strobes on a 1200 foot wire run because the appliances at the end would not have enough power to function. You can increase the size of the wire to 12 gauge but then many times the wire will not fit into the Horn/Strobe terminals and you have to make separate connections and reduce the wire making a trouble shooting problem for the future.

Depending on the calculations you may need larger batteries than 7amp so they may be 12 amp or 18 amp hour batteries to assure that the system will function for 5 min after a 24 hour AC power loss or in larger buildings it would be 15 min.

Elevator Recall
Smoke detectors in the elevator lobby when activated will send the elevator to a floor where there is no smoke. The programming normally sends the elevators to the first floor or if there is smoke on the first floor then the Fire Alarm System will send the elevator to the second floor or possibly the ground/basement floor depending on the building. Sometimes smoke detectors with built in relays are used and other times separate relays are used. Certain buildings may not be required to have a fire alarm system but may be required to have elevator recall in which case the panel could be labeled to say “Elevator recall system” instead of Fire Alarm System. The Fire Hat light in the elevator when lit indicates to anyone that may use the elevator that there is smoke in the elevator control room so it may not be safe to operate the elevator.

Elevator Monitoring
Peak Alarm only charges $15 dollars a month to monitor each elevator phone where a live dispatcher will pick up the phone and talk to the person that is in trouble. Peak will need the caller ID to the elevator phone and Peak will issue an account number and also need a normal contract signed but the process is quite easy and quick to do. The Elevator contractor would only need to program the Peak 800 number into their equipment in order to make the change.

Communicators- DACT – Dialers – IP Internet – Radio – Cellular
Older communicators or dialers that worked on the phone lines may not work with digital lines and this could be causing problems on your fire alarm system when your phone lines changed to digital. These were known as DACT dialers and were used mostly with analog phone lines. It is very difficult to get analog lines even in new construction situations now. In fact even when you have copper and they tell you they are analog lines many times about 200 feet out the door they convert to digital.

Now you can have your panel monitored using an IP Internet module when you have a static IP address although this is not the method we recommend since there are many aspects beyond our control that come into play and if the IP changes then your Fire Alarm or Security panel will stop communicating so Peak Alarm prefers to use Radio or Cellular. If there is a problem with your router or network equipment this could affect your signals and those devices are not on battery backup as per code as our cellular and radio systems are. There is an additional charge or radio or cellular although it is very reasonable price.

Our AES Radio systems are UL listed for use with Fire and Security Systems and can be installed in most areas although not in all areas if there are no other radios in use. The AES radio system is very dependable.

Cellular monitoring has two general types one which is normally used as a backup where if your phone line is cut it can send signals and then there is the high supervision type which send signals out every few minutes or over 4000 times a day and that costs a bit more per month because it is sending signals so often. The signals are sent approximately every 6 minutes for advanced cellular.

Central Station
There are two UL listed Central Stations in Utah and the State Fire Marshal requires that Fire Alarm Systems be monitored over a UL listed Central Station.

UL listed is an expensive process that requires the Central Station receiving alarm signals to have backup generators, special security and backup receivers as well as a certain amount of dispatches on duty. It is a very difficult certification to obtain.

The dispatchers receive a signal and normally respond within seconds by either calling someone on the call list, the fire department, medical or the police depending on the alarm they receive.

Dispatchers cannot take an incoming call as an authorization unless you have the proper code words and account information. To change a call list you need to do it in writing. If you don’t want a dispatcher to call someone in the middle of the night then don’t put that person’s name on the call list. When a fire alarm has a low battery or other issues the dispatchers will call those on the call list no matter what time it is since it is a life safety issue.

Years ago the Police and Fire Stations used to receive signals directly from the stores or homes and would dispatch directly. This is no longer the case, all alarms, troubles and supervisory signals need to go through the Central Station first.

Customer Information Sheet
1. After signed paperwork is received and processed plan on 2-4 Weeks before the installation will take place. Normally equipment takes about 5 -7 business days to get here and we are normally booked out approximately 2-3 weeks.

2. When switching over monitoring we will need an emergency call list, zone list, password and we will need to send test signals in on each point on the system.

3. Other services: Monthly monitoring fees vary based on what services you decide on. Monitoring/Guard/Cell/Radio/Elite/Web see attached sheet.

4. You can decide to add $15 per hour extra on the projects under 8 hours and there is a possibility that we can put a rush on the project to get it done sooner although this also depends on equipment and the current schedule.

5. Another option is to pay for overnight shipping or two day shipping although with the process of paperwork this will get the equipment here but normally won’t speed up the 2-4 week lead time by more than a couple of days.

6. When you have questions about the contract don’t hesitate to ask. If you sign up for a repair agreement most labor and parts will be covered unless the equipment was damaged because of vandalism, an act of nature or an accident like an employee knocking a device off the wall with a forklift. Parts are warrantied for one year and labor is warrantied for 90 days.

7. When you do not enter a repair agreement with PEAK ALARM then you will end up paying TIME AND MATERIAL. Labor rates are as follows for SERVICE: $100 per hour for Residential or $130 per hour for commercial.

8. When you have additions to your system please call Larry and he can arrange a lower labor rate for installation than service.

9. When you have changes done to your phone lines or change service providers this can affect the way your security system functions especially if they make any changes such as changing analog phone lines to digital phone lines or if they change how the RJ31X seizure boxes are wired.

Peak Alarm is not responsible for these items that we do not have control over. It is prudent to consider cellular monitoring in case the phone line is cut etc…

Monthly Monitoring and Service options
Monthly monitoring may vary depending on several factors and which services you choose. It will also depend on how many months the contract is set up for and how many buildings you have being monitored.

Monitoring Rate (This rate may very slightly qty etc…).. $35/mo
Alarm Response 4 included response/year…(Guard)………$10/mo.
Camera Control up to 4 cameras………………………………….. $10/mo.
Standard Cellular backup service………………………………….. $10/mo.
High supervision cellular every 6 min……………………………. $22/mo.
Elevator monitoring for phone inside the elevators……… $15/mo.
Elite Control includes cellular (smartphone control)……… $15/mo.
Emailed Reports……………………………………………………………. .$5/mo.
Garage door control……………………………………………………… $4/mo.
Key Response- 4 / per year (Add to Guard need lockbox). $20/mo
Lighting Control ………………………………………………………………$4/mo.
Lock Control…………………………………………………………………….$4/mo.
Managed Access for access systems upto 100 cards……….$35/mo.
Name Service………………………………………………………………..$4/mo.
Openings/Closings with User ID………………………………………$5/mo.
Partitions (Ability to arm different areas on same panel)…$12/mo.
PeakLink image Sensor……………………………………………………$15/mo.
Repair agreements depend on cost/size of system min is .$7/mo.
Schedules (late to open, early to open, late to close)…… $10/mo.
Service Retainer (If we do not have contract)…………………$10/mo.
Temperature Control………………………………………………………$4/mo.
Text or Email Notification……………………………………………… $5/mo.
Video Verification……………………………………………………………$10/mo.
Videofied (indoor motion viewers only)…………………………..$23/mo.
Videofied (Outdoor Motion viewers)……………………………….$43/mo.
Web Access …………………………………………………………………….$5/mo.

Mass Notification – Voice Evacuation
Code requires certain occupancies to have these special systems that can notify you using a voice message, strobes, tones and even tactile signals to alert occupants of any type of emergency. The voice message requirement is that it shall be understandable so speaker strobes have to be placed in a special configuration every so many feet to accomplish this. Many of the systems also have the ability to allow live messages as well. Some of the events that this system would be used for could be terrorist events, earthquake, person with a gun, fire, etc… The live message function would allow messages to be sent that may not be evacuation messages but it may be to stay where you are or move to a certain area. Other systems that are being integrated with these systems are text messaging and internet social media as well in order to notify an entire campus environment.

Fire Phone System
In very large building it is still required that a Fire Phone system be installed so firemen can plug phone headsets into jacks throughout the building to communicate. For the most part the Firemen use their radio headsets although this requirement is still part of the code.

CCTV – Camera Systems – Analog / IP / DVRs / NVRs
This industry is changing very quickly and the new technology is very exciting. It is not prudent to continue using the older technology although you can still buy analog cameras and camera systems. It is quite difficult to get ahold of a VCR now so those are about out of circulation almost just like typewriters. DVRs are still very common and NVRs (Network video recorders) are another option.

Currently you can purchase a hybrid DVR (digital video recorder) or NVR that will allow you to continue using your older analog cameras and add IP camera on in the future and as time goes on you can convert your analog cameras to IP cameras. We have converters that also allow you to continue using the same coax instead of having to change the wire. IP POE cameras (powered over the Ethernet) have some length limitations. When you have runs over 300 feet you will need power boosters or additional power supplies.

Currently we have entry level systems, midrange systems and enterprise camera systems that you can view remotely over your smart phone. This systems can be compared to purchasing a car. When you ask the car dealer for a car the price will depend on lots of factors including brand, features, warranty etc…the same applies to camera and security systems.

Verifocal lenses, vandal resistant housings, heater blowers are all options you could have for your cameras. Keep in mind that a megapixel camera will often be taking up ten times the storage as your old analog camera so you will need to plan on a NVR that has enough capacity for your needs.

Avoid getting cameras systems for your business from a big box store because “You get what you pay for” If you pay $50 dollars for a camera there is no way around it, you just bought a $50 dollar camera and that is very different than a $300 or $450 dollar camera. Many times cheap systems end up being very expensive.

Understand that viewing remote video over your phone will depend on your bandwidth at your home or office and the system you have. Using a static or none changing IP address for your NVR is a very wise move but many times cost and extra $10-$20 per month. Port forwarding can be used however when changes are made you may have issues with the system and it may need to be reconfigured.
Coax – Cable – Low voltage wire – A brief overview –
Price of wire fluctuates with price of copper and oil. Price also depends on wire size

Coax – RG6 – Normally used for cable TV and should not be used for cameras
Coax – RG6 95% copper used for cameras with very long runs
Coax – RG59 much of the time with 18 gauge 2 conductor for power – cameras
Fire wire normally RED normally 18 gauge for data loops and devices
Fire wire normally RED normally 14 gauge for Horn/Strobes (Shielded only for Speaker/Strobes)
FPL – Fire Rated Wire normally RED but can be ordered in white
FPLR Fire Rated Riser wire used for buildings taller than one story (holds it own weight in shaft)
FPLP Fire Rated Plenum wire meets req. of riser wire and puts off less toxic fumes when burning
Access Control cable bundled -18g2c for locks,22g6c reader,18g4c for motion,22g2c for contact
Security cable is normally 22g4 or 18g4c two conductor for the device and 2 for power
Wire gauge and conductors can vary depending on your specific project

For wire that will be on roofs or underground it is best to purchase wire that has the special UV rating and or burial rating so it will not be damaged as quickly by water or the sun.

Addressable data loop wire often needs to have a specific amount of twists per foot (12) for data transfer. Check the manufacturer wire recommendations.

Keep in mind that if a contractor needs to drill holes through walls, install long cable runs, rent a lift for high work, install special hangers for wire that these costs will add into your project. Deciding when you will require low voltage systems in conduit is a business decision since code does not require it other than in areas where the wire can be damaged by normally daily use. Conduit is expensive although it does protect the cabling.

Contractors should be licensed, insured, factory trained and have their individual state license as well for security systems. Our company will provide you with copies of all needed paperwork.

Access Control Systems
Access control systems control the locations and times people can enter specific doors. You can have doors on schedules to open or lock at certain times and you can have groups defined so managers can have 24 hour access or you can set it up so janitors can only enter certain doors on certain days within specific hour limitations. We also have badging systems for foto ID printing.

Access Control readers often are proximity readers where a card is placed near the reader in order to open the door. We also have readers that require a pin code as well to make the facility more security in case someone drops their card or loses it. We can install eye scanners or biometric fingerprint readers or even a vein scanner. Readers come in different sizes and some have the ability to read for longer ranges or be weather proof so we can help design a system to best fit your needs. Typically an access control system cost about $2000 to $2800 per door depending on the type of system.

Reader, scanner or keypad
Controller (Can be wireless or on network or hardwired)
Request to exit motion when maglocks are used instead of electric door strikes
Sometimes an exit button is required
Electric locking hardware
Door Contact to monitor if the door is held open or blocked open.
Tie into Fire Alarm System for door release upon fire alarm.

We have entry level systems that more economical or midrange systems or enterprise systems that do not have limits on how many readers you can have installed and they can be controlled from one location and the cards programmed from a corporate office etc…

Security / Intrusion Systems
Intrusion systems normally have motion detectors, door and window contacts, glass break sensors and can be programmed to be silent alarms or have sirens and strobes activated. Often people do not utilize security systems to their full potential because you can also tie water sensors, liquid level sensors, gas sensors, high low digital temp sensors, humidity sensors and airflow sensors for server rooms all into your security system. You can control lighting, thermostats and many other building controls all from your security system.

Security systems can be very simple systems and very cost effective or they can be programmed to be very complex and more expensive.

We sell a double steel walled panel that cannot be pried open without destroying the wall and setting off a tamper that can be installed inside the can and the wall behind the can. We also have BMS contact that are balanced magnetic contacts so the system is much harder to defeat because a normal magnet will set the system into alarm if it is placed next to the contact or it will also alarm if the contact is pulled off the wall. Wireless systems have their place and they are getting better all the time although you should consult with a professional before making the decision on which type of system to have installed in your home or business. Motions – Tritech are better to avoid false alarms.

Certain panels can be programmed to arm and disarm different areas or partitions. You could have a strip mall with one panel controlling all 8 stores or more all with different keypads and codes activating independent of each other but all sending signals over the same communication set up.

Security Options not commonly understood
Late to open – This means you will get a call if your employees don’t disarm by a certain time. If they should have opened by 7am and they don’t open till 720am you would get notified.

Late to close – When your employees don’t arm the system up by a specific time you would get notified.

Early to open – You would get a notification if your building was disarmed before a specific time schedule.

Partitions – Although we already mentioned this keep in mind that you could have the office on a different partition from your working area or shop and those employees would not have access to the accounting area etc…Some people have a gun room or a wine cellar that is on a separate partition.

Web access – For $5 extra per month you can get into your account and view reports and such on your own.

Security Codes and understanding how they can/should be programmed
It is prudent to program in CODES that are not easy to guess, therefore avoid codes like 6969 or 3344 or 2468 or codes burglars try like birth year codes 1971 or 1980 etc…

Codes should be changed periodically and deleted when employees leave the company.

Installer code – This code is used to program the points and the system but normally does not have authority to arm or disarm the system.

Master code- This code is one you should not loose but keep locked up. Your Master code can be used to add more codes, change codes and delete codes.

User code – These are the normal codes for end users and employees.

When you intend on managing your own codes read the manual and get the training from your alarm contractor because you need to remember when programming codes that there are authority levels for each code, a name location for each code, areas to be programmed in for each code. Example: Betty may only have access to area 1 and 3 but not to areas 2 and 4 although Kyle may have access to all the areas and that needs to be entered when programming in codes. Often our customers would prefer that we do these changes for them and on many of our systems we can make these changes remotely.

Electrical Engineer information and why it is important to talk to them
For commercial systems it is wise to get an electrical engineer to design your system with plans and specifications. Then when bidders give you pricing they will all be bidding using the same guidelines otherwise you may not get consistent proposals. You can decide to go directly to an alarm contractor to get the design and the system installation although if you approach three or four companies your proposals will be all over the board if you do not have specifications with a clear scope of what work is to be done and by whom.

For Fire Alarm System often one of the requirements by the AHJ Fire Marshal is to have a PE stamp on your plans. PE is Professional Engineer. (Electrical Engineer stamp) Other times a NICET III stamp is acceptable.

Often cities will require that you submit drawings and submittals to the city inspector before the building permits are issued. It is prudent to verify in your city what is required so you can be prepared to get all of the steps completed and not hold up your construction or permits.

After your Electrical Engineer has done the plans and the specifications it is smart to go over the drawings and the scope of work to make sure it is clear and not under or over specified according to your budget. A good example is a project that we just bid out where the entire project came to 10,000 dollars but $3000 of the ten thousand was extra equipment that the Engineer required in the specifications. Verify with each bidder if they included that extra equipment because that may be why there is such a large price difference in the proposal. On this specific project the Engineer may have felt that since it was a shell and core system that they needed this equipment for the future which is fine as long as the property manager/owner understand that.

Code info such as NFPA 72, NFPA 70 (NEC) and Life safety 101 (ADA) & R710
NFPA 72 is the National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code
NFPA 70 is the National Electric Code – wire, conduit fill etc.. code
Life safety 101 ADA – Sometimes facilities require this code
R710 State of Utah Fire Code
IBC is the International building code
IFC is the International fire code

NFPA 72 has spacing requirements for smoke detectors, pull station and horn/strobes. It also has mounting heights and requirements for communications and operations. NFPA 72 also has the testing requirements listed.

Example: NFPA 72 current edition and current adopted edition no longer require smoke detectors at the fire alarm panel location on a fully sprinkled building although R710 Utah code still requires smokes at the Fire Panel so it will communicate before the panel burns up in the event of a fire at the panel location.

Life Safety 101 can require horn/strobes every 50 feet in the hallways rather than every 100 feet like the NFPA 72 code so if your occupancy and facility requires this code to be met adjustments will need to be made to appliance, devices and spacing.

Having a knowledge of these codes is very important especially when installing fire alarm and access control systems.

Maintenance note – extend the life of your system
Having your smoke detectors cleaned out periodically is one way to increase the life span of your detectors and system. Many times just blowing them out is not going to work as well as taking them apart and cleaning out the inner chambers. If your detectors are over ten years old in a residential environment it is recommended that you purchase new ones. When you don’t maintain your fire and security systems you can end up with more false alarms and costly service at a later date.

Utah code requires that your Fire Alarm System be tested at least once a year. Your insurance company may require additional tests.

Batteries normally last from 3 to 5 years. The other day a gentleman told me he had a set of batteries last 12 years. Most likely they did not last the full 12 years because when you do a load test with a special battery tester you will see that they may pass the voltage test but fail the load test. This means if you lose power the batteries most likely will not continue to function or run the system as they should. When you replace the batteries do not mix up the red and black wires as you can burn out the panel equipment which can be very expensive. It may be best to call a technician to do this routine maintenance for you.

When you replace the batteries be sure to tag the battery with the date that you changed them out. Also if you purchase your own batteries check the manufacture date because if you purchase them from a store that does not rotate their batteries on a constant basis you may have purchased a battery that was a year or two old to start with. The manufacture date is stamped on the top of the battery.

Supplementary Information:

The information provided in this packet will help you obtain much
of the knowledge that you will need to be able to make sound
decisions regarding these systems. Please remember to consult
with the local AHJ or Fire Marshall for his or her final decisions
on code requirements. Keep in mind that this information is no
substitute for an Electrical Engineer or design consultant. The
expertise that security contractors gain from years of experience is
a very valuable asset in the design process and most contractors
charge for these services.

It has not been very long ago that you could have your electrician
install a system and then you could forget about it. With the new codes,
requirements & liability associated with these systems it is best if you
hire a Fire Alarm Contractor that has experience in this field and is
regularly engaged in the installation of such systems. Some Electrical Contractors have a special division that focuses on these low voltage systems and they do a very professional job. These systems need to be tested and cleaned regularly. If you intend on remodeling or building a new facility the assumption is that the plans that are drawn up by the engineer are reviewed by the Fire Marshall in plan review.
This assumption is incorrect. The Fire Alarm plan should be submitted
to the Fire Marshall to be approved and this is separate from plan
review. Working in conjunction with the AHJ or Fire Marshall is a
good idea and will save you headaches in the long run. Many companies will
try and do the minimum required by code just to get by.
Other companies because of insurance requirements have additional systems installed.

When PEAK ALARM designs a system it is done to code. Designing your
system to surpass code is very advantageous, not only for liability sake
but for peace of mind. Knowing that your maintenance department and
the authorities will be called automatically in case of fire, flood or
security breach assures that the proper action can be taken to avoid
problems that can be costly to the company and it also shows the public
that your company did everything in its power to avoid any accidents
or incidents. When I refer to surpassing code requirements it would include such sensors as high and low digital temperature sensors, humidity and airflow sensors for server rooms, remote video to verify alarms, additional protection such as flame detection for specific circumstances and so on.

Many fire alarm contractors are leery to give out unit pricing. Each
Project is different in the fact that some projects may require that
Trenching between buildings be done or drilling through walls to run
Wire or extremely long wire runs may be needed. With all the factors
taken into consideration prices will vary depending upon how busy a
contractor may be, the price of copper (wire) and the labor that the
individual job may take. Many times a customer may require a fixed
bid. A time and material bid will in most cases save the end user quite
a bit. Fixed bids take into consideration several contingencies that may
come up. Prices on new construction work will be more consistent
than prices on remodels. PEAK ALARM is not always the low bidder, however
PEAK ALARM is very professional and will do the job right the first time.
PEAK ALARM has a saying in the office: “Your Protection is our profession”.

General Terms : (Just a few of the Alarm terms you may need to know)

Not in alphabetical order

FACP – Fire Alarm Control Panel

Voice evac or mass notification – System that notifies occupants with special instructions for different emergency situations. Speaker strobes are installed and you need to be able to understand the instructions.

Zoned – A wire goes to each point such as smokes, motions and then back to the panel. (Homeruns) This takes more labor and more wire although it can be more secure.

Addressable– One long piece of wire has all the devices on it reporting individually whether it be a security or fire alarm system. Normally the modules cost anywhere from $35 dollars each up to $85 each depending on the system so you need to decide if you save enough money in conduit, wire and labor when installing an addressable loop. The point is normally around 24 points where it becomes cost effective to install an addressable system.

Addressable module – A small box that will tell the panel the exact location of the device such as a door, smoke detector etc…

Duct Detector- A smoke detector that detects smoke in the duct work that has relays to shut down the RTU. If the belt burns out and cases smoke you can have the duct detect shut down the RTU before more damage is done. (Just one of the purposes)

NFPA 72 – National Fire Alarm Code

Manual Pull box or Pull Station – That is the small red box you pull if there is a fire

PIV valve – This is a shut of valve that can shut off the sprinkler water to the fire alarm sprinkler. Otherwise known as POST INDICATOR VALVE

Horn/Strobe – These are the noisy red or white boxes on the wall that flash and make noise.

RTE – Request to exit motion or some refer to this as request to enter if they use the REX as a request to exit motion. This motion can release the magnetic lock holding the door and you could have a button as well.

Prox card reader – This little boxes are what you put your access card up against so the system will open the door. These door systems vary in price but they have special electronic locks, the reader, the hold open door contact and a controller. These normally cost from $1,500 to $2,700 dollars depending on the brand name of equipment and the location in the building.

This short report is not a substitute for working with an alarm professional who has experience and certifications required to install and program these systems. The purpose of the report is to give you a better knowledge of general alarm systems so you can better work with the alarm contractors. When you note any errors please contact larry@peakalarm.com and he will make corrections to the report.
Peak Alarm has been in business for over 45 years and Larry Love has been in the alarm industry for almost 20 years.

Prices vary depending on how many buildings you are bringing online with Peak Alarm for monitoring although we do offer monitoring currently for $26.95 per month and there are several other services we offer such as web access for $5 extra per month per account allowing you to check on your account(s) over the web where you can see alarms, troubles and the calls that Peak has made to the customer and to the Fire and or Police department.

Please let us know if this report has been helpful to you. If you would like a more detailed report in any area please us know that as well.

Horn Strobes on Fire Alarm Panels

calculating how many is important

calculating how many is important

How many Horn Strobes can I put on a circuit is a question that I often get from Electrical contractors and the answer is “it depends.” They really don’t want to hear that answer so my normal answer is 8 Horn/Strobes per loop. If you have some that are set to the lower settings and some set on 75cd then a mix will put you close to that figure. If they are all ceiling mounted high current horn/strobes then the answer will be different.

Not figuring in a volatage line drop if you have a 1.5 amp circuit that is 1500 mA and if your using Horn/Strobes set at 75cd you could put 7 on a circuit and if the circuit is a 2amp circuit 2000mA you could put 9 and if the circuit is a 2.5amp Circuit you could put 12 although now you need to consider 2 more factors. The distance of your wire and if you have a requirement to have any extra capacity on your circuit for additions at a later date. Many Electrical Engineers will require that you have a 25% buffer so on a 1.5amp circuit you could only put 5 and on a 2amp circuit you could only put 7 and on a 2.5amp circuit you could only install 9.

On a 500 foot run of 14 gauge wire you will have just over a 3.3 volt line drop so if you started at 24 you will now be at 20.7 volts and now you need to figure all the combined devices and their draw. So if you have a 1000 foot run you cannot put 10 horn/strobe on that circuit because with the mA draw and the voltage line drop combined you will not have enough voltage/current left to power all the appliances.

So now you have your answer as long as you know what power supply you are using and what gauge wire and how long your loop or circuit is.

Now I will explain how I get to that figure.

1. What gauge wire are you using? FPL, FPLR or FPLP solid 14 gauge 2 conductor wire is the most common so doing calculations as to how far you can run the wire and still have power at the last device is very important. If you use 18 gauge cable the distance you can go will be less.

2. What power supply are you using to power the horn/strobes? Normally Horn/Strobes are 24 volt DC although you can get them in 12 volt for very small projects although I will talk about 24 VDC models. Many installation use 6amp UL listed Fire Alarm supplies or 4 –1.5amp circuits although I prefer the 10amp power supplies with four of the 2.5 amp circuits. (Batteries are a whole different topic but remember your batteries need to run the Horn/Strobes for 5 min after the power has been out for 24 hours or for 15 min if the building is a larger building so choosing the right size batteries is important)

3. What cd or candela (candle power) setting and what setting will you use for the sound are other questions that will help you determine how many you can put on a circuit. There are 3 main brands that I will use for comparison (Gentex, System Sensor and Cooper Wheelock) and the appliances set to 15cd for a small area like a restroom would draw between 105 and 158mA depending on the unit you decided on. Most areas would have the cd set to 75 so the horn/strobes set to 75 would draw between 162 and 253mA or an average of just over 205mA. If you are in larger rooms and you have to have the higher settings then the mA is higher. Do your battery calculations using the exact models that you are dealing with. For this example we will an average of 205mA draw per appliance. Remember when checking the mA draw to include the horn draw and the strobe draw for the cd that you will need. Many people overlook the horn db mA draw.

4. Voltage line drop means simply that the further you run a wire know that you will loose some of your voltage just because of your wire run and the length of it.There are spread sheets just to calculate these figures.


Load X Ohms Resistance = Voltage drop.

Example: A 24 Volt Horn/Strobe will still sound 16 Volts
The example above of 12 Horn/Strobes on 1000 feet would not allow the last horn to sound
whereas the 10 on 500 feet would work just fine (within acceptable limits) as long as you have 2.2 avail amps on the circuit

Standby load (amps) x standby time (hrs)=standby AH
convert mA into amps for this chart

Battery calculations should be done for all circuits on a project and most Horn/Strobe manufactures have those sheets on their web sites.

Standby Load (Amps)
Multiply by Required Standby Time(24 or 60 hrs)
Total Standby AH =

Alarm load(amps) x alarm time (.084hrs)=Alarm AH
Standby AH + Alarm AH = Total AH

This will assist you so you can purchase the appropriate batteries.

Ohm’s law: E=IxR (E=Volts, I=amps, R= ohms)
Power law: P=ExI (P=watts, E=volts, I=amps)

If you don’t want to mess with any calculations make sure you hire an experienced Fire Alarm Contractor such as PEAK ALARM who has been in business for over 45 years and has the ability to do any size project.

Call Larry Love at Peak Alarm 801 486 7231 x 384 or email any suggestions or corrections to Larry@peakalarm.com

Utah Fire Alarm dealers and manufactures

List of different dealers and manufactures

List of different dealers and manufactures

Call Larry@peakalarm.com 801 428 1384 for pricing on this security equipment


ADT- Security, Cameras – Call for additional information (877) 809 3274 www.adt.com

Alarm Control – Siemens, Cerberus Pyrotronics,Silent Knight, Firelite. Suppression Panels: Fike, Ansul and Fenwall,Cerberus – (801)486 8731 Alarm
Control installs and services Fire Alarms and Suppression Systems as well. http://www.alarmcontrol.com
Alarm Tech – Silent Knight Fire Alarm 801 568 6757

Alpha Corp, Inc. (801) 977 8608 Fire Alarm: GE Vigilant by Edwards United Technologies. http://alphacorpsecurity.com

BEST – GE Vigilant- Mirtone Fire Alarm, Fire Alarm Access Control, Security, Cameras 801 352 0743

CERTIFIED FIRE – Farenhyt Fire Alarms and Silent Knight (Janus Fire Systems) Call (801) 694 1215 Certified Fire has been in business over 11 years and also is a full service company that offers Fire Suppression and Fire Sprinkler Systems. http://certfire.com/

Delta Fire Systems, Inc. (801) 972 4500 Fire Alarm System brand is GE Vigilant by Edwards United Technologies. This company is who we recommend for sprinkler systems. http://www.deltafiresystems.com

GSL Electric also sells and installs Siemens Cerberus Pyrotronics Fire Alarm Systems. http://www.gslelectric.com/

Siemens – Siemens Cerberus Pyrotronics- Fire Alarm (801) 590 7373 (Alarm Control and GSL Electric also services Cerberus)

StateFire – Call (801) 288 2100
StateFire has been in business since 1989 as a strong full service fire suppression company. StateFire provides service for Simplex, Fike, GE-EST, Notifier, FCI and Silent Knight. StateFire Is an Authorized dealer in EST, GE-IO Series and Fike. StateFire installs Fire Alarms, Clean Agent Suppression Systems as well as service and monitoring. We are a full service fire suppression company which services fire sprinklers, extinguishers, kitchen hood suppression systems. www.Statefire.com

FSS Fire Suppression Services, Inc. (801)277 6464 cannot find a web site for this company. Fire Alarm: GE Vigilant/Edwards United Technologies

Firetrol – Notifier & gamewell- EST – Bosch- Firelite – Silent Knight- Digitize – Fire Alarm (801) 485 6900

Honeywell -Security, Access Control, Fire Alarm and Cameras (801) 886 2957

Interwest Fire Protection, Inc. (801) 746 4040 http://www.interwestfire.com
Mountain Alarm or Fire Protection is the company name for their fire alarm division -Notifier is their main brand although they can also do Bosch, Silent Knight or Firelite as well. Mountain Alarm is their security division and Fire Protection does the fire alarm installations. (801) 363 9696 www.mountainalarm.com

Mountain West Security, LLC Orem Utah (801) 226 6786 http://www.mwsecure.com Fire Alarm is GE Vigilant by Edwards United Technologies

Nelson Fire – FCI and Gamewell (801)468 8300 This company does quite a bit of work for the school districts.

Johnson Controls (801) 973 4001-

PEAK ALARM – DMP Security, DSX Access Control, Salient/Axis Cameras, MIRCOM Fire Alarm, HOCHIKI Fire Alarm as well as Silent Knight, Firelite and DMP Fire Alarm- – UL listed Monitoring (801) 486 7231 – Ask for Larry Love 801 428 1384 Larry@peakalarm.com www.PeakAlarm.com Peak Alarm only has 2 complaints on the Better Business Bureau in the last 3 years as of 08/31/16 both issues were billing issues.Check http://www.bbb.org before buying from any company because of the alarm companies have over 3000 complaints. Low price is not always the best indicator. Peak also installs encrypted security systems using DMP or Qolsys.com

PST Professional Systems Technology, Inc. – GE Vigilant – EST Fire Alarm, Access Control, Fire Alarm, Security – (801)649 6696 http://www.pstslc.com

PCS – Power Control Systems- Access Control, Security – MIRCOM Fire Alarm (801) 560 6423

SIMPLEX Grinell – Fire Alarm, Intrusion Security, Access Control, Cameras. SIMPLEX, Grinell, Thorn and Autocall Fire Alarm (801) 633 9830

United Fire – Fike and Harrington

Wasatch Electric Comtech division- Cameras, Access Control, Security and Fire Alarm (801) 487 4511 – GE EST Edwards System Technology

Why’rd (801)568 6757 Ask for Myron http://www.why-rd.com GE Vigilant Edwards United Technologies (Fire Alarm)

LIST OF FIRE ALARM MANUFACTURES (All equipment is UL listed)

1. Bosch – UL listed Fire Panel including conventional, addressable and analog addressable www.Boschsecurity.us
2. DMP – UL listed Fire Panels www.dmp.com
3. Digitize Fire Alarms http://www.digitize-inc.com/
3. EST – GE http://www.edwardsfiresafety.com/ Edwards United Technologies
4. Faraday http://www.us.sbt.siemens.com/ By Siemens
5. Farenhyt Fire Alarms http://www.farenhyt.com/ Silent Knight by Honeywell- Aphacorp here is Utah is a distributor for Farenhyt ask for Kent. AAA Fire is also a distributor
6. FCI Fire Control Instruments – http://www.gamewell-fci.com/ Gamewell FCI by Honeywell
7. Fike Corporation – http://www.fike.com/ Fire Alarm, Air Sampling and Releasing panels. Alarm Control and United Fire.
8. Firelite by Honeywell http://www.firelite.com/ Peak Alarm also installs.
9. Fireworx – Conventional and addressable small building detection http://www.edwardsfiresafety.com/ Edwards United Technologies
10. Gamewell – http://www.gamewell-fci.com/ Gamewell FCI by Honeywell
11. GE UTC Fire & Security: A united technical company http://www.utcfireandsecurity.com/ There are 7 companies here in the area that sell GE Vigilant Fire Alarm systems by Edwards.
12. Harrington http://www.harringtonfire.com/ Sales rep listed on web site is in Arizona
13. Hochiki – Full line of conventional (zoned) and analog addressable Fire Alarm Systems including Air Sampling smoke detection as well as listed panels for releasing / Extinguish panels www.Hochiki.com Peak Alarm is one of the four distributors for Hochiki here in Utah. There is another Hochiki dealer in Bountiful, one in West Jordan and two in Salt Lake.
14. Keltron corporation http://www.keltroncorp.com/ codded or McCulloh or l00mA coded circuits
15. Mircom http://www.mircom.com/
15a. Mirtone
16. Notifier www.notifier.com by Honeywell
17. Siemens Industry Inc. Fire Safety Division http://w3.usa.siemens.com/ same as Cerberus Pyrotronics – Alarm Control and GSL also sell and install Cerberus Pyrotronics.
18. Silent Knight by Honeywell https://www.silentknight.com
19. SimplexGrinnel LP http://www.tycosimplexgrinnell.com/ by TYCO
20. Vigilant http://www.edwardsfiresafety.com/ Edwards United Technologies There are 7 dealers for GE Vigilant

Note: The following are not fire alarm manufactures of Alarm Systems but of devices or appliances such as Horn/Strobes etc…

1. Gentex
2. Cooper Wheelock
3. System Sensor
4. Edwards also make bells, horns and such although most of the appliances are from 1-3

Fenwal http://www.fenwalfire.com/ Fire Alarm releasing /suppression control units


Air- Intelligence by Edwards United Technologies

When you have current information or corrections on any of the dealers or manufacturers please send corrections or updates to Larry@peakalarm.com and I will update the information on this blog. This information was obtained using the web so if I did not find the current dealer please let me know and I will correct it.

Partitions on a security system by Peak Alarm

Peak Alarm employees are on 24/7

Peak Alarm employees are on 24/7

Many people don’t understand how many features the newer security systems can do now. Here are a list of items that you can discuss with your security contractor. Know that some of the entry level panels will not do all of these functions but Bosch and DMP will do all of them and more.

1. Partitions can be set so you can one one security panel and arm and disarm several different areas independently. You can arm up all the emergency doors on one area. You could arm up the room where the money is on a different area and disarm it when needed. You could have 8 or 16 stores in a strip mall and have separate keypads on each one and they all could arm up separately and the security codes for the ice cream store would not work on the hair salon although the system is all working off one main security panel the panel is partitioned into different areas and even different account numbers.

2. Openings and closings. This allows the panel to send reports to the central station every time it is armed and disarmed and by whom.

3. Late to open. When you have a store and want to make sure your employees are opening the store on time you can set the time up and you will get a phone call or email notification if your employee opens late.

4. Late to close. Same thing, if they arm up too late you will be notified.

5. Early to open. If if your employee opens up too early you will be notified. We had a tanning salon where the employees were going in around 4am to tan before the salon would open and the owner was notified and resolved the issue.

6. Specific points can be local while disarmed meaning that the emergency doors could set the siren off during the day but would not send alarms to the central station.

7. Specific points on the same partition can be set to send alarms even while the system is not armed up. These would 24 hour points that need to send signals to the central station even when the system is disarmed like panic buttons, 24 hour emergency side doors etc..

8. All the points can be programmed to either be bypassable or non bypassable.

9. Cross zoning to avoid false alarms. You can make it so 2 points have to be put into alarm before the signal is sent to the central station helping to avoid false alarms.

10. Normal contacts can be defeated by using magnets although high security BMS contacts cannot be defeated with that method so you may consider high security contacts on certain projects.

11. Watch for additional information on motions, glass breaks etc…

12. You could set your roof hatch as a 24 point and when you need to go on the roof just bypass that point, service the items on the roof and then unbypass the point.

13. You can set up different keypads to arm and disarm different areas.

14. You can use your security system to send environmental alarms like humidity alarm, freeze alarm, water alarm, low liquid levels or high liquid levels, high temp alarm or many other such as ammonia alarms or specific gas alarms.

15. You can arm and disarm your system using your smart phone.

Call Larry Love at Peak Alarm 801 898 6003 or office 801 428 1384 email Larry@peakalarm.com

FLIR Camera system

This is the view of our office cameras here at PEAK

This is the view of our office cameras here at PEAK

Peak Alarm can propose an entry level camera system that you can view off your smart phone or we can bid a system that is a bit more expensive that will be higher quality and PEAK can also bid out a high end system that will be an enterprise system. We will meet with you at no charge to determine your needs and budget then we will propose the best options. Peak has been in business for over 45 years. Peak is a locally owned and trusted security company. Call Larry Love at 801 898 6003 or 801 486 7231 x384 at the office. Larry@peakalarm.com

It is prudent to PREWIRE while in stick phase

Trust Peak Alarm for all your security & fire alarm needs.

Trust Peak Alarm for all your security & fire alarm needs.

RE: Prewire for Security System (Generic information for any security system)
The cable/wire that is recommended for small installations is 22 gauge 4 conductor stranded cable and if it is a larger project then 18 gauge 4 conductor stranded cable. (Not shielded) This will work for most hardwired systems. Two of the wires are for power and two in order to activate the alarm. Powered devices are motions, glass breaks, smoke detectors etc…

Whoever does the prewire should label each end of each cable clearly with a zone number that corresponds with a MAP or use a description such as FRONT LOBBY, REAR DOOR etc….Care should be taken so as not to damage the wire when installing it because the outer coating on security wire is much thinner than THHN. (We can do the prewire or you can.)

Most residential and small commercial projects will have wire installed from each device to where the panel will be installed. (HOMERUNS) unless it is a large system that has an addressable loop. If it is addressable then one circuit can be installed going around the entire building. Monitor modules cost from $40 to $65 depending on the system. So you will need to determine if installing 20 mm will save you wire and labor rather than home running all zones.

The panel should be in a spot where power can be ran to the panel as well as phone lines although most systems we install today will use cellular or radio so they won’t be susceptible to phone lines getting cut. This will be a decision the owner will need to be involved with.

The advantage of having a hardwired system is that you will not have to change out batteries for the devices such as motions, smoke detectors or glass break sensors.

Consider installing wire for MOTIONS in Main areas, Smoke detectors, Glass Break Sensors, Low Temperature sensors if the building drops below 40 degrees F, water sensors in areas where flooding could occur and if it is possible you may want cameras installed then now is the time to install the cable. Airflow and humidity sensors can also be installed in the server rooms.

The older cameras (analog) used RG59 with 18g2c cable although the newer IP cameras will normally be POE (powered over Ethernet) using CAT5 or CAT6 but there are limits on distances powering them over the Ethernet without extra power.

Call for free consultation. (801) 898 6003 or the office 801 428 1384 or 801 486 7231 x384 Larry@peakalarm.com www.PeakAlarm.com

Get bids from Peak Alarm

Call Peak for all your security needs

Call Peak for all your security needs

RE: Bid information / Larry Love now at PEAK ALARM

It is with pleasure that I introduce myself and Peak Alarm Company of Utah. For the past 18 years I have been actively engaged in the Fire Alarm and Security industry and I can provide professional bids to you.
Please try to give us a week or more notice if possible when requesting bids. When you need bids on short notice and you provide counts we will do our best to provide you with a proposal/bid.

1. Fire Alarm – Hochiki (Networkable for very large sites) – Silent Knight – Firelite

PRE-PRICING ON FIRE ALARM FOR FLOW AND TAMPER (8 zones) Fire Alarm Panel, 1 Pull, 1 smoke, 1 flow & 2 tampers and 2 Horn/Strobes (includes submittals and green tag) EC provides and pulls wire and Peak installs – excluding wire and conduit. $2,100
PRE-PRICING on FIRE ALARM FOR FLOW AND TAMPER – (Equipment and Programming only) $1,500

2. Security Intrusion – DMP – BOSCH – HONEYWELL – DSC – 2GIG

3. Access Control – DSX – DMP

4. Camera systems – Analog or IP systems – AXIS – Salient and most other brands as specified.
When you call me I will set up a free consultation to come out and evaluate your project site and I will make specific recommendations as requested.

I will also notify you on RFI questions concerning the plans and specifications so we can address issues before change orders are needed at a later date. I can notify the electrical engineer directly or if you would prefer I can notify your office so you can submit the RFI.
With over 45 years of industry experience, Peak Alarm has the ability to design, install, and maintain fire alarm and security systems no matter how big or small. We employee multiple NICET technicians and Master Fire Alarm Techs certified by the Utah State Fire Marshal. Peak provides a full service solution including operating a UL Listed Central Monitoring Station located in Salt Lake City, Utah.
When our products are not specified we can submit a value engineering bid along with an approval request to the electrical engineer. Please let us know if you need just Equipment and Programming or if you need Peak Alarm to provide and install wire, appliances and devices.

Larry Love
Commercial Systems Specialist NICET II #107204
Master Fire Alarm Tech AE034 (801) 486 7231 x384