Burglar alarm panels used as commercial fire alarm panel

Hi all,

is it allowable to use burglar panels as DSC Powerseries, GE Networx, Honeywell vista etc etc etc as a commercial fire alarm panel?

or is it allowable to have them as a combination also? burglar and fire alarm combo with one of the above mentioned panels?

does is say in NFPA72 somwhere? is yes under what code?

since all other our competitors are using burglar panel as a fire panel since its cheaper… so saying that we have issues on bidding on projects because of the cost.

please advice

Don’t take my word for it, but I would assume it is allowable. I mean, where I live, most houses/small buildings just use a security system for detecting fire as well. Plus, every school in my city has their Security system tied in with the fire alarm system.

Absolutely, as long as the panel is listed for commercial fire and properly configured, you can use what is typically called a “burglar alarm” panel as a fire alarm panel. The Ademco Vista 128-FB easily comes to mind. What you will see is two labels on the inside of the panels - one will say something along the lines of “Household Burglary & Fire Alarm”, the other “Commercial Burglary & Fire Alarm”.

The “Household” panel is just that, for residential use only. You can get away with using a household panel for commercial burglary but not fire - but I have seen some companies get away with putting in a smoke detector or two. These are never permitted systems and if the FM found out, they would be forced to remove the equipment or install a compliant system. You can use a household panel for the fire alarm system in a private home as long as you adhere to the requirements in the manual - one that I can think of off hand are limiting the current on the “Bell” circuit and only using specific make/model of sounder (something that is never if ever done). Again, if you look at the installation manual for the panel, it will list the requirements of making it a compliant system.

The “Commercial” panel, again, is just that, for commercial use. It has to be listed specifically for fire alarm use - and can also be used for burglary use. You can even place a commercial panel in a private home but it is overkill. Using a commercial panel for fire alarm use you still have to configure and wire the panel just as you were configuring and wiring a stand-alone fire alarm panel, no difference there, but you are sharing the enclosure with burglar alarm wiring, wireless receivers, etc, and can get a little crowded. Some of the big Notifier Fire Alarm panels also support “Security” functions and you can use them as a burglar alarm panel. I’ve only seen this used once in my career at a Community College Library building (door and motion detectors) but that system was replaced a couple years ago. There are some advantages to using a combined system: lower installation costs, shared telephone line (still have to have two lines), one account number, ability to lockout your competition - but then there are some disadvantages: usually more difficult to use, if something goes wrong you have two systems down. Personally, I like separate, but it’s usually the sales guys that win out in the end!

ok thanks for the info

just its really hard to compete with those “burglar panels” since they are much cheaper then the fire panels like Edwards Fireshield or firelite conventional

Have to start bidding with them in mind I guess. I don’t like it either, but sometimes on the smaller jobs where you just have a flow switch and couple of pulls, the economics just don’t work. Ademco (Honeywell), DSC, Napco, Bosch, DMP, all have fire versions. Probably more.

I remember on one of SimplexTech’s videos (one showing a 2001 system with 4051+4050-80 horn/lights), he said the security system was tied into the fire alarm system. When the horns sounded, a security siren started going off. After the alarms were silenced, the security siren continued sounding. He noted that was not supposed to happen (the security siren going off.)

Probably just connected up to the security system to act as a dialer. Was the siren going on - off - on - off? That’s usually the default pattern, would be better to program the siren as silent. But if the FACP was hooked up to the security panel, you would need to reset the security keypad after you reset the fire alarm, or wait for the siren to time out.

It’s explicitly allowed in residential in chapter 29.

You’d have to check the UL listings on each panel to see if they’re usable as a fire alarm system in a commercial setting, but for a sprinkler monitoring panel you can use about anything. Sprinkler monitoring and fire alarms are two very different things code wise, as fully sprinkled businesses with occupancy’s under a certain amount don’t require a fire alarm, just for a the waterflows to be monitored and reported to a central station. This means you can throw a few extra points onto a burg panel to monitor a few things in the sprinkler system and activate a strobe or two in the entire building and have it covered.

What size projects are you looking at? I’m single building retail stores, restaurants, etc… I’d recommend coming up with a single panel solution like your competitors are using. We don’t even bother with that market because we’d rather be a fire alarm company.

Oh, not around here! Anymore, the AHJ wants a fully functional fire alarm system with literally all the bells and whistles for even the most mundane sprinklered building. Pulls at every exit, horn strobes everywhere, duct detectors on the AHUs… Even an empty built to suit type building is outfitted as it’s an occupied building. Years ago we could get away with a little Notifier 911 dialer in the sprinkler room and a 120v bell on the outside, not any more!

Yes it was. I saw the same video.

This is the video, right?

Yes, that’s the video I’m talking about; I don’t know about Wiley.

I can barely hear the siren over the horns… which are totally in 120BPM march time, not 90BPM! :lol:

Wait until he silences it.

That’s the exact same setup that they have in all the schools in my city.