DMP In The News

November 06, 2001


NFPA gives nod to Internet fire transmission By Andrea Gural

QUINCY, Mass.-The Standards Council of the National Fire Protection Association has approved a Tentative Interim Amendment that gives the agency's rubber stamp to the transmission of a fire signal via the Internet or intranet, an approval that could prove to be a boon for both fire panel manufacturers as well as users, said the TIA's author.

The move paves the way for Underwriters Laboratories to list equipment for use in transmitting fire signals over the Internet or via a company's intranet, much like the agency did in February when it approved DMP's XR200 control panel and SCS-1 receiver for Internet transmission of a burglar alarm signal in a high-line security application. The NFPA council approved the TIA, which changed a subsection of NFPA 72-1999 to address Internet monitoring, at a meeting in early October.

Lou Fiore, immediate past president of the Central Station Alarm Association who wrote and submitted the TIA for approval, said the code change could be a major impetus for sales of panels that are currently being used for Internet and intranet monitoring, especially for users such as large chain stores that are linked through an intranet.

"UL has already allowed them to use networks for burg (signals)and at this point they are having to spend extra monies to meet NFPA 72 with dedicated lines," Fiore said. "This would free them of that."

To meet NFPA requirements, the new transmission method would have to be able to prioritize a fire signal to ensure its speedy transmission to the monitoring station. Because the networks, both Internet and intranet, are packet switched data networks - data is put into digital packets and transmitted via a series of network equipment - and also transmit other types of data, such as financial information or burglar alarm signals, the network is incapable of distinguishing between those signals. Instead, the alarm signal must be recorded and displayed at the monitoring station in 90 seconds or less from the time the alarm is initiated, said Lee Richardson, NFPA staff liaison to the fire alarm code.

"Because the signals can be sent far faster than 90 seconds, (the users) will actually get better fire coverage," Fiore said. Fiore said he planned to submit the revised NFPA code to UL within the next few weeks. That organization still must devise its own criteria to list equipment for the Internet fire signal transmission, he said.

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