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Industry Terminology

A |B |C |D |E |F |G |H |I |J|K |L |M |N |O|P |Q|R |S |T |U|V |W |X|Y|Z


Audio Alarm Verification, also known as 2-way voice to the central station. The LYNX-REN has this feature built-in. The LYNX-R can use the LYNX-AVM, other panels can be used with an Eagle Model 1250 or other appropriate module. The control panel will trigger this module upon kissoff from the central station receiver and microphones and speakers connected to the Eagle board will allow a 2 way voice dialog between the central station operator and the protected premises.

Addressable Control Panels
Addressable Control Panels make it easier to pinpoint the exact alarm and trouble conditions. This exact pinpointing is accomplished by having all addressable devices connected to a single two-conductor circuit called a Signaling Line Circuit (SLC) and assigning each addressable device with a unique address. The control panel is able to “interrogate” each addressable device and display its’ status at the control panel. This signal will report the exact location of any alarm or trouble condition of an addressable device on the SLC.

Addressable Devices
Any module that connects to the panel’s ECP (keypad) bus requires a specific address which identifies this device to the control. Devices are either addressed via dip switches, software, or have fixed addresses. These devices include keypads, expansion modules, wireless receivers and transmitter modules, telephone modules, and some AlarmNet radio transmitters.

Alarm Cancel Verification
In the event of a false alarm, after the user enters their code + OFF, “Canceled Alarm” is displayed on an alpha keypad confirming the alarm has been canceled at the central station. “CA” will be displayed on a fixed English keypad.

Alarm Signal
A signal indicating an emergency requiring immediate action, such as a signal indicative of fire.

Analog Initiating Device (Sensor)
Like an addressable device, this type of initiating sensor pinpoints its alarm and trouble conditions. Additionally, analog sensors are capable of sending analog values (sensitivity) that represent the amount of smoke or heat at the sensing chamber. Several features of analog systems are:
  • The control panel can individually set the sensitivity of each sensor in the system (high, low & medium)
  • The control panel can change the sensitivity of all the sensors in the system to make them more sensitive at night or on weekends when the building is not occupied.
  • The sensor can send a maintenance alert to the control panel when it is becoming dirty and may false alarm
  • The sensor can send to the control panel its sensitivity level
  • Drift compensation – During the life of the sensor it gets dirty and becomes more sensitive. The control panel can compensate for the drift by adjusting the alarm threshold and achieve constant sensitivity

A unit containing two or more indicator lamps, alphanumeric displays, or other equivalent means in which each indication provides status information about a circuit, condition, or location.

(VISTA-128BP, VISTA-128FBP, VISTA-250BP and VISTA-250FBP). Alpha Paging Module - ADEMCO model V8201. Wires to the panel’s J8 connector via a 4142TR cable.

Audible Exit Warning
When the system is armed in the Away or Maximum mode, the keypads will sound a warning of slow beeps and change to fast beeps for the last 5 or 10 seconds. The VISTA-20PS has a feature where the system can be programmed to display the exit time remaining in intervals of 1-5 seconds.

Audible Signal
An audible signal is the sound made by one or more audible notification appliances such as bells, horns or chimes in response to the operation of an initiating device.

Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ)
The organization, office or individual responsible for approving equipment, an installation or a procedure. The AHJ is typically the local Fire Marshal.

Auto Stay
If the user arms the system in the Away mode but does not exit before the exit delay expires, the system will arm in the Stay mode.

Automatic Fire Detectors
Fire produces well-defined signatures such as thermal energy (heat), smoke, and radiant energy. Fire alarm system designers normally select automatic fire detectors such as heat and smoke detectors to detect these signatures in accordance with the requirements of the National Fire Alarm Code.


Bells may be of the single-stroke or vibrating type. They may be provided with 4-inch through 12-inch gongs (in 2- inch increments). The 6- and 10-inch sizes are the most commonly used. Usually, bells with 4-inch gongs are reserved for use as trouble signals. Generally, the larger the diameter of the gongs, the lower the frequency and the louder the audible signal (expressed in decibels [Db]).

Breakglass or Nonbreakglass Pull Station
To initiate an alarm, a breakglass pull station must break a glass rod in order to actuate the station. Activated breakglass pull stations are easily identifiable. They also discourage tampering and consequently false alarms. Non-Breakglass pull stations do not have the breakglass feature.


Class A Circuit
Class A refers to an arrangement of monitored initiating device circuit, signaling line circuit or notification appliance circuit that prevents a single open or ground on the installation wiring of these circuits from causing loss of the system’s intended function.

Class B Circuit
Class B refers to an arrangement of initiating device circuit, signaling line circuit or notification appliance circuits that permits a single open or ground on the installation wiring of these circuits to cause loss of the system’s intended function.

Combination Detector
These detectors can contain more than one sensing element to respond to a fire. Examples include a combination fixed-temperature/rate-of-rise heat detector, or a combination of a smoke detector and a heat detector. Fixed temperature/rate-of-rise heat detectors are the most common combination heat detector. The advantage of a fixed temperature/rate-of-rise detector is that the rate-of-rise element is more responsive to a rapidly developing fire while the fixed temperature element responds to a fire that develops slowly.

Compatibility Listed
A specific listing process that applies only to devices that receive their operating power from the control panel such as 2-wire smoke detectors. Underwriters Laboratory and Factory Mutual are the most common listing organizations.

Conventional Control Panels
Conventional fire alarm systems use a supervisory current to monitor the integrity of the initiating device circuit (IDC) and notification appliance circuit (NAC). Each IDC and NAC will usually have several devices connected and any change in the circuit supervisory current will be indicated at the control panel. The control panel will display which circuit is in alarm or trouble; however, if there is more than one device connected to an IDC or NAC it will not indicate which device is in alarm or trouble. This makes pin pointing the exact location of an alarm or trouble condition extremely difficult. Typically, an IDC will cover a building zone. A building zone can cover an area up to 20,000 square feet and have up to 25 devices connected to the IDC.

Cross Zoning
For use in false alarm prone areas, 2 zones may be linked together so that an alarm will occur only if both zones trip within a specific time period.


Digital Alarm Communicator Receiver (DACR)
A system component installed at the supervising station, such as a central station, that will receive and display signals from the digital alarm communicator transmitters (DACTs), located at the protected premises, sent over the public switched telephone network.

Digital Alarm Communicator Transmitter (DACT)
A system component at the protected premises to which initiating devices or groups of devices are connected. The DACT will seize the connected telephone line, dial a pre-selected number to connect to a DACR located at the supervising station and transmit signals indicating a status change of the initiating device.

Double Action Pull Station
Two actions are necessary to initiate an alarm. Usually a door must be opened or a cover must be lifted in order to pull the lever to initiate an alarm.

Dry Pipe Sprinkler Systems
Dry pipe sprinkler systems are typically used where there is a potential for the water in the piping system to freeze such as in unheated warehouse spaces or large commercial freezer rooms. Pressurized air is maintained in the piping system to hold back the water supply. When a sprinkler head is activated and opens, the air bleeds out thereby lowering the pressure in the piping system and starting the flow of water to the open sprinkler head. Water will only discharge though sprinkler heads that have been activated.

Dry Pipe Sprinkler Systems
Dry pipe sprinkler systems are typically used where there is a potential for the water in the piping system to freeze such as in unheated warehouse spaces or large commercial freezer rooms. Pressurized air is maintained in the piping system to hold back the water supply. When a sprinkler head is activated and opens, the air bleeds out thereby lowering the pressure in the piping system and starting the flow of water to the open sprinkler head. Water will only discharge though sprinkler heads that have been activated.


Enhanced Console Protocol, or another term for the keypad bus. See Addressable Devices.

Event Log
System events can be stored for later retrieval. Some panels allow retrieval at an alpha keypad, others require connection with the Compass downloading software. The VISTA-128BP, VISTA-128FBP, VISTA-250BP and VISTA-250FBP can also be programmed to print this information directly from the panel. This requires a 4100SM and a serial printer, such as the ADEMCO 6220S. These can alternatively support a parallel printer using the V8201 Alpha Paging Module.

Exit Delay Reset
After arming Away and exiting, if the user reenters before the expiration of the exit delay, the exit delay is reset.

Exit Delay Restart
Also called Quick exit. If the system is armed in the Stay mode, this allows the user to restart the exit and entry delay by pressing the * key.

Exit Error Logic/Exit Alarm
Alerts the user and allows for correction in the event the exit door is left open. Sends an unique report to the central station.

The type of hard wired and RF (wireless) zone expansion. VISTA-20P, VISTA-20PS use 4219 or 4229 modules for zone expansion. The VISTA-128BP, VISTA-128FBP, VISTA-250BP and VISTA-250FBP use multiplexing (aka: polling loop or V-Plex). All wireless expansion is 5800 series.


Fire Alarm Control Unit (Panel)
A system component that receives inputs from automatic and manual fire alarm devices and may supply power to detection devices and transponder(s) or off premises transmitter(s). The control unit may also provide transfer of power to the notification appliances and transfer of condition to relays or devices connected to the control unit. The fire alarm control unit can be a local fire alarm control unit or master control unit.

Fixed-Temperature Heat Detectors
These detectors initiate an alarm when the detecting element reaches a predetermined fixed temperature. One draw back of this type of heat detector is that when the detector activates, the temperature of the air surrounding the detector has exceeded the predetermined temperature set point. Therefore there is a lag in time between the time the temperature reaches the predetermined point and when the detector activates. This is called thermal lag.


General Alarm
When a general alarm pull station is activated it will immediately sound the notification appliances throughout the building. This is the most common type of pull station.


H/W Zones Built-in
The number of standard hard wired zones included with the panel.

Hardwired Short Detection
The VISTA-15 can be programmed to detect a short circuit on any hardwired zone which will result in a trouble condition if the system is disarmed. If the system is armed, an alarm will be generated.

Heat Detectors
Heat detectors respond to the thermal energy (heat) signature from a fire and they are generally located on or near the ceiling. They respond when the detecting element reaches either a predetermined fixed temperature or when a specified rate of temperature rise occurs.

Horns are used for applications that require louder or more distinctive signals, or both. Horns may require more operating power than bells; therefore, care should be taken to see that circuits are electrically compatible when powering horns. They may be of the surface (grille), flush, semi-flush, single projector, double projector, or trumpet type. In very noisy areas such as a factory, resonating, air-powered or motor-driven horns are sometimes used because of their inherently high decibel output.


Initiating Device
A system component that originates transmission of a change of state condition, such as a smoke detector, manual fire alarm box, supervisory switch, etc.

Initiating Device Circuit (IDC)
A circuit to which automatic or manual initiating devices are connected where the signal received does not identify the individual device operated. Another common term used is zone.


Keyfob Zones
Wireless keys that can be programmed without taking away from the number of maximum zones in the panel.

Keypad Macros
Allows a shortcut to simplify various system commands.


Equipment, materials or services published by an organization acceptable to the Authority Having Jurisdiction that evaluates materials, products or services. The listing organization maintains periodic production inspections of listed equipment or materials or periodic evaluation of services. The listing states either that the equipment has been tested and the material or services meets identified standards.

LRR output and Dynamic Signaling
The panel can support AlarmNet radios connected to the ECP (keypad) bus. This allows for extremely simple connections and programming of a 7845C, 7835CF, 7720PLUS, and 7820 radio transmitter for backup reporting to the central station. The radios will transmit all messages programmed to go to the primary telephone number. Dynamic Signaling allows you to assign which method of transmission will have priority and how long to wait before transmitting on the other medium. Eg: If the dialer has priority and is acknowledged before the programmed delay expires, then the message will not need to be sent using the radio. If for some reason the dialer message is not acknowledged by the end of the delay period, the message will be transmitted via the radio.


Magnetic Door Holders
Electromagnetic (magnetic) door holders are designed to hold-open doors during normal conditions and close when the fire alarm system has been activated.

Magnetic door holders operate on loss power or as it is more commonly referred to as fail-safe. For example, if the power to a magnetic door hold-open device is interrupted, the door will close or fail-safe just as it is designed to do during an alarm condition.

Manual Pull Stations
Manual fire alarm boxes (or as they are more commonly called pull stations) have a lever on the outside of a metal or plastic enclosure that contains a switch that is housed within the enclosure. A person pulling a lever on the outside of the enclosure will activate the switch inside the enclosure. Once actuated, the pull station must be manually reset to restore the unit to a normal non-alarm condition.

Max Zones
The maximum number of total zones supported by the panel.


Night-Stay Mode
Designates certain interior zones to remain active while others are bypassed.

Night-Stay Mode
Designates certain interior zones to remain active while others are bypassed.

Non-restorable Fixed Temperature Detectors
This type of heat detector uses a fusible element made from a eutectic metal alloy such as lead or tin that melts rapidly at a predetermined temperature (commonly 135 degrees F). The operation of the detector destroys either the entire unit (or at least the operating element) that the system maintainer must replace.

Notification Appliance
A fire alarm system output component such as a bell, horn, speaker, strobe, printer, etc., that provides an audible or visible output, or both. Another common term used is signal.

Notification Appliance Circuit (NAC)
A circuit or path directly connected to a notification appliance. Another common term used is signal circuit or bell circuit.


VISTA-20PS,VISTA-128BP, VISTA-128FBP, VISTA-250BP and VISTA-250FBP uses the secondary telephone number to send messages to a numeric pager. This limits the number of attempts the control panel will make to reach the central station to 8. The panels use a separate alpha paging module which requires adding a 4100SM (serial module) and a separate telephone line. They can also send messages to a numeric pager without adding a separate module but requires an ADEMCO VA8201 alpha pager module to send messages to an alpha pager, and can support up to 8 different pager telephone numbers.

Panic Keys
Keypad panic zones in addition to standard zones.

Some control panels have the ability to be programmed for multiple partitions, which allows the single control to protect different areas as if each had its own control.

Photoelectric Beam Smoke Detector
In a photoelectric beam smoke detector, a light source and a photosensitive sensor are arranged across a protected space so that the rays from the light source normally fall on the photosensitive sensor. When smoke particles enter the light path, the intensity of the light is reduced, causing the detector to initiate a fire alarm signal.

(VISTA-128BP, VISTA-128FBP, VISTA-250BP and VISTA-250FBP). Panel link Module - ADEMCO model V8200. Used for networking panels together. One PLM is required on each panel linked together. The PLM is connected to the panels ECP bus and communicated to each PLM via a RS-485 connection (3 wire twisted cable).

Pre-signal Pull Station
When a pre-signal pull station is activated it will cause an alarm signal to sound only at designated area such as a security office. The subsequent actuation of a key switch on the pull station or on the control panel will cause an evacuation signal to sound throughout the building. Pre-signal pull stations are commonly used in hospitals or university campuses.

Programmable Function Keys
The A-B-C-D keys on a 6150 or 6160 keypad used on a VISTA-20PS panel can be individually programmed to perform any of the following functions:
  • Panic zone
  • Single button paging
  • Display date and time (returns to normal display after 30 seconds)
  • Arm away, stay, or night-stay
  • Step arming (cycles once from stay, to night-stay, to away)
  • Output device activation
  • Communication test
  • Macro (shortcut of up to 16 keystrokes not including the user code).

Programmable Outputs
Relays, X-10 (Power Line Carrier) devices, or on board triggers that can be used to activate LED’s, strobes, additional sounders, lights, garage doors, etc. Depending on the control panel selected, the outputs can be controlled by system events or by schedules or both.

Programmable Zone Types
(VISTA-20PS). Unique zone types may be added for various custom responses. Configurable options include response to entry/exit delays, response to opens and shorts, sounding, fault and dialer delays, and unique contact id codes. The VISTA-20PS supports four programmable zone types.


Rate-of-Rise Detector
A rate-of-rise detector will operate when the rate of temperature increase from a fire exceeds a predetermined level, typically around 5 degrees F in twenty seconds or 15 degrees F per minute. Small, normal changes in ambient temperature that can be expected under non-fire conditions will not operate the detector. These heat detectors are restorable and are typically combined with the fixed temperature heat detector.

Rate-of-Rise-Compensated Fixed Temperature Detector
In a slowly developing fire, this form of detector responds when the temperature of the air surrounding the detector reaches a predetermined level. In a rapidly developing fire, the detector anticipates the air temperature reaching the operating point accelerating the operation of the detector. This produces a fixed temperature detector with virtually no thermal lag. Rate compensated heat detectors are considerable more expensive than fixed temperature or rate-of-rise/fixed temperature detectors.

Record Drawing
Blueprints, also called as-built drawings, that document the location of all devices, appliances, wiring sequences, wiring methods and connections of the fire alarm system components as they are installed. These drawings are essential to test and maintain the system.

Record of Completion
Formerly called the Certificate of Completion, this is an NFPA document that confirms that a system has been installed properly and operates in accordance with the National Fire Alarm Code (NFPA 72).

Restorable Fixed Temperature Detectors
This type of fixed temperature heat detector uses a bimetallic element. The bimetallic element has two metal strips bonded together with different coefficients of thermal expansion. When the bimetallic element is heated it will create a bending action. This bending action will close a normally open contact thereby initiating an alarm. After operating, the bimetallic type automatically restores when the temperature falls to a point below the set point of the detector.


Schedules can be used to turn output devices on and off, to limit the access of certain user codes, automatically arm or disarm the system, or other similar functions.

Signaling Line Circuit (SLC)
A circuit to which initiating and/or notification appliances are connected. The signal received does identify the individual device operated. Another commonly used term is addressable loop.

Single Action Pull Station
A single action of pulling a lever or other movable part initiates an alarm.

Smoke Detector - Ionization
Ionization smoke detectors are more responsive to sensing invisible smoke particles produced by flaming type fires, like those produced from flammable liquids. An ionization smoke detector has a small amount of radioactive material that ionizes the air in the sensing chamber, thereby rendering it conductive and permitting a current flow through the air between two charged electrodes. When smoke particles enter the chamber, they attach themselves to the ionized air molecules and decrease the conductivity between the electrodes. When the reduction in conductivity reaches a pre-set threshold, the electronic circuit will initiate a fire alarm signal.

Smoke Detector - Photoelectric
A light source and a photosensitive sensor are arranged so that the rays from the light source do not normally fall on the photosensitive sensor. When smoke particles enter the light path, some of the light is scattered by reflection and refraction onto the sensor, causing the detector to initiate a fire alarm signal. Industry experts agree that photoelectric smoke detectors are usually more responsive to detecting visible particles of combustion from burning carpet, furniture upholstery and drapes.

Smoke Detector – Four-wire
Four-wire smoke detectors receive their operating power and initiate an alarm from separate circuits. They receive their operating power from an auxiliary power circuit and they initiate an alarm from the initiating device circuit. The auxiliary power supply for 4-wire units can either be a separate power supply or integral to the control panel. Either way, the power supply must be UL listed for fire alarm use and be interruptible for smoke detector reset

Smoke Detector – Two-wire
Two-wire smoke detectors receive their operating power and initiate an alarm from the same pair of wires, the Initiating Device Circuit (IDC). Because they receive their operating power from the initiating device circuit, there are two very important considerations when installing them:
  • Detector compatibility with a control panel
  • Quantity of detectors per initiating circuit.

Smoke Detectors
Typically, fires that occur in family living units or office buildings produce detectable quantities of smoke before they produce detectable levels of heat. Therefore, fire alarm system designers use smoke detectors more extensively today than heat detectors.

Speakers are generally operated from audio amplifiers housed in the control panel that delivers a standard output line levels of 70.7 or 25 volts rms. Speakers are driven by an electronic tone generator, microphone, tape player, or voice synthesizer and an electronic amplifier.

Spot-Type Detector
A device whose detecting element is concentrated at a particular location. Typical examples are heat detectors and smoke detectors.

Sprinkler System Control Valve Supervision
The main reason for sprinkler system failure is do to inadvertent control valve closure. A closed control valve will shut off the water supply to the sprinkler heads. Sprinkler system control valves are used to shut off the water supply to all or a portion of the piping system so that maintenance, service or alterations can be performed. Therefore, the monitoring of the control valve position is essential and is accomplished by connecting supervisory switches to the control valves.

When a control valve is closed it will activate the supervisory switch and send a supervisory signal to the fire alarm control panel. When the control valve is opened it will restore the supervisory switch and the fire alarm control panel to their normal condition.

Sprinkler Systems
An automatic sprinkler system consists of sprinkler heads located throughout the building that are connected to a metal piping system. This piping system is connected to the municipal water supply. When heat produced from a fire reaches a predetermined fixed temperature it will trip the sprinkler head and discharge water from the piping system to extinguish the fire. The fire alarm system should monitor the operation of automatic sprinkler systems with listed fire alarm initiating devices such as water flow switches and supervisory switches.

Stroboscopic lights (commonly called “strobes”) operate on the energy discharge theory to produce a high intensity flash of short duration. The short bright flash is not only attention getting, but is effective when general visibility is low. Strobe appliances come in a wide range of light intensities that are measured in candelas (cd). Typical strobe candela ratings are 15cd, 30cd, 15/75cd and 75cd. Repetition rates are usually between one and five flashes per second.

Supervisory Signal
A signal indicating the change in status in connection with the fire suppression system or equipment, or with the maintenance features of related systems. For example, a supervisory signal could indicate that a sprinkler system supply value is closed.


Telephone Line Fault Monitor
The system constantly monitors the phone line for proper voltage. Upon a phone line failure, the panel can be programmed to either display this condition at the keypads, display and sound a trouble at the keypads, or display, sound, and cause an output to activate (strobe light, siren, backup transmission device, etc).

Telephone Module
Allows a local or remote touch-tone telephone to act as a keypad. This feature is accomplished by adding 4285 or 4286 module. The FA4286 module has the additional capabilities of supporting up to 2 4500 thermostats and external speakers.

Trouble Signal
A signal initiated by the fire alarm system, indicative of a fault in a monitored circuit or component. For example, a trouble signal could indicate a break in the circuit wiring or a detector that is not operating properly

Two-Way Fire Department Communications System
An electrically monitored telephone system providing private voice communications capability between the fire command center or central fire control unit and designated remote locations. Phones or phone jacks can be installed at the remote locations. Usually this type of system is installed in highrise buildings, such office buildings or condominiums, over seven stories in height.


AKA the polling loop or multiplexing. It is a method of zone expansion that provides power and data on the same pair of wires. See Expansion.

Visible Signal
A visible signal is the response to the operation of an initiating device by one or more direct or indirect visible notification appliances. For a direct visible signal, the sole means of notification is by direct viewing of the light source.

Voice Evacuation Panel
A critical function of a fire alarm system is notifying the building’s occupants that there is a fire within the building thereby allowing them to safely exit the building. Typically, when a fire alarm system is activated it will sound conventional notification appliances such as horns, bells or chimes.

However, the occupants of a building may not be familiar with the evacuation routes in public assembly occupancies or high rise buildings and will be unable to safely exit the building. Therefore, voice evacuation panels are required to automatically transmit pre-recorded or live voice evacuation instructions over speakers in public assembly occupancies such as places of worship, restaurants, gymnasiums, theaters and auditoriums.


Water Flow Sprinkler Switches
When a sprinkler head is tripped by heat produced from a fire, water in the piping system will start flowing, activating the water flow switch. The activated water flow switch will initiate an alarm signal to the fire alarm control panel.

Wet Pipe Sprinkler Systems
Wet pipe systems are the most common. The piping system is filled with water at all times in wet pipe systems. Water will only discharge though sprinkler heads that have been activated.


A defined area within the protected premises. A zone may define an area from which a signal can be received, an area to which a signal can be sent, or an area in which a form of control can be executed.