Addressable Versus Conventional Fire Alarm Systems. What’s the Difference?

Fire Safety in the Workplace: Who is Responsible?Whether you’re installing a new fire alarm system or you’re simply upgrading the old one, it’s helpful to know the difference between a conventional and addressable fire alarm system and which one may be right for your needs.

What is an Addressable Fire Alarm System?

Also known as an “intelligent system”, an addressable fire alarm system monitors all the fire, smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detection devices in your building. It is typically used for larger office buildings with more complex requirements. Each alarm has its own address, which is monitored independently in order to let the system know when it is either activated or not working properly. The activated device will show up on the control panel monitor, allowing you to pinpoint the exact location of a fire in a timely fashion. Devices are connected using a loop, meaning they are connected to the control panel with a single wire instead of a wire for each device. The loop acts as a failsafe measure so the connected devices are not disabled if one end of the loop is disconnected from the control panel.

In addition to rapid detection capabilities, this particular system also adds more flexibility and control. Systems may offer built-in dual path communications, programmable buttons, as well as the necessary support for fire and CO addressable detection.

What is a Conventional Fire Alarm System?

Typically costing less to purchase, but more to install, a conventional fire alarm system is hardware-based and uses analog technology. Unlike addressable systems, each detection device is connected to the control panel with its own wire. Conventional systems are also not capable of pinpointing the exact location of a fire. It takes creative wiring to create zones that help to narrow down the location of the emergency. In a conventional system, individual circuits trigger a signal that communicates with the panel, making its capabilities limited and the system less reliable than an addressable system. Also, if a wire is severed, the device will no longer work because there is no loop to maintain communication with the control panel.

Which Fire Alarm System Should You Choose for Your Office Space?

While it may seem like an obvious choice to choose an addressable fire alarm system, not every business can afford its price tag or needs its capabilities. Before you make the investment, speak with licensed fire and life safety specialists who can review your premises and offer you expert guidance. Once your system is installed, reach out to your fire and life safety specialists again to schedule required inspection, maintenance and testing of your fire alarm system.

Total Fire Protection is a trusted, single-source provider for fire and life safety products, inspection, maintenance and testing to leading corporations, healthcare facilities and sports and entertainment venues throughout the New York metro area. Call for information (718) 785-8297.