Keltron Blog

Advances in modern alarm management software redefine on-site fire alarm monitoring at multi-building facilities

Lisa Korklan, VP of Marketing

Many multi-building facilities and campuses still use old, inefficient technology for monitoring and dispatching their fire alarms. Master alarm panels from their fire alarm control panel (FACP) manufacturers often consist of a board that lights up or presents an alarm code. These codes or lights require dispatchers to figure out the type of alarm, where the initiating device is, and what they should do about it. Not the most accurate or fastest method to manage essential life safety programs.

More sophisticated alarm automation software made for commercial central alarm monitoring stations does not easily adapt to the needs of on-site campus and multi-building facility alarm monitoring. This is particularly true for college or healthcare campuses and military or industrial facilities where risks are high and on-site knowledge of a life safety incident is most critical.

Technologically-advanced, software-based, alarm management systems provide an optimal solution. These systems offer single-view screens that are easy to use and easy to learn, enabling dispatchers and administrators to become proficient faster and improving the accuracy of the response. Instead of only indicating the building where the alarm is, software alarm management systems can pinpoint the exact location of the initiating device and display the information in plain English along with the specific instructions for handling the event. This substantially enhances the efficiency of event response.

To further minimize the time spent by dispatchers on resolving an event, these systems automate necessary services such as history reporting, stakeholder notification, email and text reminders. With the increasing need for dispatchers and administrators to operate and oversee multiple building systems, harnessing new technology can reduce stress, improve event response, and potentially save lives and property.

So your police/security department doesn’t want to monitor fire alarms?

Lisa Korklan, VP of Marketing

It is common for campus police/security departments to be responsible for monitoring and dispatching fire alarms. They are usually busy with other responsibilities such as campus security, access control, video monitoring and a whole host of administrative jobs such as visitor parking passes. It’s no wonder that adding a life safety responsibility such as fire alarm monitoring with its inherently heavy level of process and responsibility, may be met with resistance. We get it – they already have too much to do but there are solutions.

Continuously improving technologies help to reduce the burden of the incremental responsibility of fire alarm monitoring. Computer-assisted dispatch software exists that greatly facilitates the process of effectively dispatching a fire event: it’s quick and simple, involving minimal training, and reducing the likelihood of mistakes. New technologies provide detector-level fire and life safety event information such as the exact location in a specific building the alarm is coming from. Dispatchers are no longer limited to knowing only the building where the alarm is. They don’t need to spend critical time trying to obtain or relay more specific information to the responders – it’s all on one, easy-to-use screen.

Technology exists to enable a facility to automatically send groups and types of signals to different responders. For example, trouble signals that indicate equipment malfunction can be sent to the campus fire alarm technicians leaving only essential alarms such as fire alarms for the police department dispatchers. Alarm monitoring, dispatching and reporting systems can also receive information from other building systems, so that dispatchers don’t have multiple screens to watch.

With organizations’ continued push to improve life safety but reduce operating costs savings, finding ways to increase efficiency while increasing situational awareness is a challenge…but there is technology to help. Find out more →