Monthly Archives: October 2015

Three Clients That Need Emergency Communication Systems Now

For years, fire safety and home security have been seen as two separate entities. Even home security providers that sell both fire and security systems market them as two separate services packaged together rather than an all-in-one solution. For security integrators that provide equipment to businesses rather than directly to the end user, this dichotomy is even more pronounced. Recently, chatter among industry associates on social media pages has been focused on a common theme: Are there safe and practical ways for security integrators to also sell their clients fire systems?

The answer is yes. Security integrators should absolutely be selling fire systems to their clients in light of the elimination of the gap between security and fire safety engendered by emergency communication systems (ECSs), such as the one from Silent Knight. These ECSs make it easy for security integrators to make the case for adding a fire system to a sale.

With an ECS such as the Silent Knight 5820XL-EVS, users can send voice-recorded emergency messages to a target group for everything from fire events to security breaches to evacuation orders during natural disasters. In fact, ECSs are quickly becoming the standard for safety as three emerging client bases create demand for the level of safety preparedness they provide, as follows:

  • Hospitals: Hospital layouts are often complex and, therefore, difficult to navigate, especially with the possibility of heightened alarm—and even panic—during an emergency. Further complicating emergency incidents are the range of unique situations that exist in a hospital. For instance, consider the case of a patient who has entered the hospital via the ER and is subsequently diagnosed with a contagious disease and needs to be quarantined. An ECS can send an alert, notifying the wing, floor or entire hospital of the transportation of this individual to a sequestered room to avoid spreading germs.


Additionally, in areas of a hospital where fire or security alarms could affect the care of a patient, or cause further medical complications, ECSs can be used to notify nurses and hospital staff through voice communications rather than a low-frequency alarm—allowing hospital staffers to relay the message to their patients in a safe manner. Finally, an ECS gives hospitals the safety net of a backup system in case intercom systems are disabled during an emergency event.


  • Municipalities: As we recently discussed in our blog post on severe summer weather, municipalities are increasingly in need of support such as that encompassed by an ECS. With today’s climate, regardless of season, the risk of severe weather that can threaten lives and personal property is omnipresent. With an ECS, a town can effectively communicate emergency events, evacuation plans and the locations of shelters during the worst of circumstances. Upgrading to an ECS can be the difference between a town protecting its citizens and catastrophe.


  • Real estate developers: As a real estate developer, your goal is to build housing that fits your target audience’s needs. However, regardless of whether you’re building high-end apartments for the mega-rich, like Donald Trump, or affordable housing for the average Joe, safety needs to be top of mind. You help to protect your building tenants from all emergency events when you install an ECS. An ECS can be used to communicate the need for evacuation due to a natural disaster, building security breach, and fire or carbon monoxide leak. Furthermore, having a building wide ECS will help protect tenants who may not be equipping their own apartments with individual fire or security alarms.

When it comes to safety, regardless of the industry in which you’re operating, protection shouldn’t stop at one system or the other. When large populations need to be protected, either in hospitals, towns or apartment complexes, expect the worst (but hope for the best) case scenario. With ECS, there is now an all-in-one solution.

How To Program Alarm Verification in the IntelliKnight Panels

Alarm Verification is a useful feature used in aiding the reduction of false alarms related to smoke detectors .

The 2013 edition of NFPA 72 defines Alarm Verification as ”A feature of automatic fire detection detectorand alarm systems to reduce unwanted alarms wherein smoke detectors report alarm conditions for a minimum period of time, or confirm alarm conditions within a given time period after being reset, in order to be accepted as a valid alarm initiation signal.

When a detector enters alarm verification in the Silent Knight IntelliKnight series of panels, a countdown timer begins. If a second condition is detected after the countdown, the panel will alarm. If a second condition is not detected after the countdown, the panel remains in normal condition.

To program this feature in the SKSS up/download software, open your account file and click on the General Parameters tab . The middle column just below System Aux 2 allows you enter the alarm verification time in seconds. The default is 60 seconds, which is the code requirement, however the programmable time can be from 1 to 250 seconds. The next step is to define the zone the detector is assigned to as an Alarm Verification zone type. This is accomplished in the Input Zones tab. In the Input Zones Characteristics section highlight the cell under the Dect.Char column that needs to be selected as Alarm Verification. The default selection is 1 Cnt. Right mouse click and select Alarm Verification. Any addressable detector in that zone will now operate as Alarm Verification.

It should be noted that Alarm Verification is only effective for detectors. Contact devices such as pulls stations, waterflow devices, supervisory switches, etc. are one count and will place the panel into an event when activated. Also, the alarm verification sequence is ignored if the zone is already in alarm. If a second detector, pull station or water flow goes into an alarm it will override the alarm verification and activate a general alarm.


About the Author
Brian Brownell joined Silent Knight as a Technical Trainer in 2011 and has worked within the fire alarm industry for 30 years.​

Get In Sync With Your Fire Alarm System

The full line of Silent Knight control panels and power supplies support synchronization for System Sensor, Gentex, Wheelock, Faraday, and Amseco devices. The Silent Knight addressable FACPs allow you to select the desired sync protocol through programming of the output groups assigned to the panels’ notification circuits. This allows you the flexibility to not only utilize the various manufacturer’s devices but also the capability to have circuits activate one type of synchronization output while others activate a different synchronization output. The intelligent power supplies (5496, 5895XL) used on the Silent Knight addressable panels are also capable of sync and use the same output group programming as the panel to select the desired sync protocol. It is important to note that Silent Knight does not guarantee that the intelligent power supplies will hold sync with other intelligent power supplies or the FACP.

strobe                 strobe

In applications where system-wide synchronization is required, it is recommended to use the Silent Knight conventional power supplies. The Silent Knight 5495 and 5499 power supplies can be selected for various synchronization protocols via dip switch settings. In addition, these power supplies have the capability to provide a pass-through function where the outputs of the power supply will follow the provided input. In cases where system-wide synchronization is required, a control panel capable of providing the appropriate synchronization protocol is used to drive the input of the power supply, the four outputs of the power supply will all follow and hold synchronization with the control panel. Multiple power supplies can be placed in series in this configuration to provide synchronization power for the largest systems.


About the Author
Bill Root is the Technical Support Supervisor for Silent Knight. Bill joined Silent Knight in 1988 and is responsible for managing applications and technical support across the Silent Knight product line. Bill is also NICET Level II certified.

Reducing Fire Alarm System Vulnerability with Fiber Optics

Since we are in the heart of lightning season, I would like to visit a topic that has been discussed in the past – fire alarm system vulnerability. Electrical surges and ground faults due to storms can wreak havoc on fire alarm systems, especially multi building installations using copper wire.

Fortunately, there is an option available to assist in alleviating these vulnerabilities: fiber optic cable. Because fiber optic cabling uses glass or plastic strands, there is no need for grounding. Since grounding is no longer required, electrical surges and ground faults are virtually eliminated because there are no earth ground differentials.

Silent Knight offers a solution using the SK-F485C fiber optic converter. This device converts the SBUS copper run to fiber optic. The diagram below illustrates how the conversion is accomplished linking the fire alarm panel to a distributed addressable power supply. It is important to note that the SK-F485C is U.L. listed with the IntelliKnight line of addressable fire alarm panels.fiber conversion


When using the SK-F485C, please keep in mind required fiber optic specifications:

  • Duplex ST connectors for the TX and RX connections
  • 62.5 microns
  • Multimode
  • Data rate = 115.2K byte/second
  • Maximum attenuation of 5.5db

Do you have installations where the SK-F485C would be helpful? Need applications and support assistance? Let us know in the comments section below! Click here to download the SK-F485C data sheet.


About the Author
Mark Indgjer is a Product Marketing Manager with Silent Knight.  Mark joined Silent Knight in 1988 and is responsible for new product development, product marketing and much more.  Mark is also NICET Level II certified.​