Why Training is a Must in the Fire Alarm Industry

As a trainer for Silent Knight, I know how important training is in this business. I also appreciate how essential it is to keep pace with product updates, product releases, and trends in the fire alarm and life safety industry.

Our responsibility is to ensure that people who attend Silent Knight training classes receive the best learning experience as possible. Our training department works closely with Engineering and Product Management to guarantee that our training modules and product demonstration equipment are current. We check equipment after each training session to confirm everything is in working order, and we also communicate with each other to find out what went well and how the experience could improve.

fire-alarm-industry-trainingA key function of a trainer in the fire alarm business is to follow the industry. Training classes are Silent Knight product-specific, but topics such as code, industry products, and trends are prevalent throughout our sessions to provide well-rounded classes. Over the years it has been proven that one of the best resources for industry information is you, the class participant. There is a wealth of knowledge and experience in every training session we conduct, which is why you will find substantial class participation. This is what takes our training to the next level. In fact, it is not uncommon for a trainer/trainee working relationship to form beyond the training class.

Product training is critical in our line of business because the ultimate goal is life safety. Preparing and offering training is a responsibility we take seriously because understanding code and requirements, using the right equipment, and knowing how to install it ensures optimal solutions to save lives.

Let us know your thoughts on training by clicking on the Leave a Reply link above to enter your request. Click here to visit the Silent Knight training page.


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.​

Tech Tip: EVS-INT50W Power Wiring

The EVS-INT50W is an amplifier that offers a single speaker circuit capable of supporting up to 50 watts of power and is compatible with version 15 of the 5820XL-EVS. Although it is similar to the distributed 50, 100, and 125 watt amplifiers, there are subtle differences.

One of the first things you will notice is that the EVS-INT50W does not come with an enclosure. The reason for this — and why it is described as an internal amplifier — is that it mounts in the 5820XL-EVS cabinet. No external cabinet or hardware is required: this provides the benefit of saving valuable wall space as well as installation time and money.

The other difference you will see is that there is no primary AC and battery backup. The EVS-INT50W is powered by the 5820XL-EVS panel. This is where it can get tricky. To power this amplifier, one of the 6 Flexput™ circuits on the 5820XL-EVS will be programmed for Constant Auxiliary Power and run to the power input on the EVS-INT50W. The SBUS connection, which is normally 4 conductors, will be 2 conductors for the A and B data connections. Do not use the SBUS power (- and +) to power the amplifier. The amplifier draws close to 3 amps in full load. SBUS power only supplies up to 1 amp. Be sure to account for the power draw in your 5820XL-EVS battery calculations.


The internal amplifier is an addressable device, so be sure to set the dipswitches on the unit before powering it up. Also ensure that the panel is programmed to look for the address you set on the amplifier. After this, all options are programmable, such as mapping the speaker output for proper activation, 25 or 70.7 Vrms operation, Class A or Class B speaker wiring, and 520 Hz low frequency output.

Have you installed the EVS-INT50W? Please let us know your experience by clicking on the Leave a Reply link above to enter your request. Click here to visit the EVS-INT50W web page.


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.

Catch the Drift: An Overview of Detector Drift Compensation

Addressable fire alarm control panels provide several enhanced features that are not provided with conventional fire alarm control panels. Several of these features relate specifically to the addressable detectors, such as Drift Compensation, Maintenance Alert, and Calibrated Sensitivity testing. In this installment, we will provide an overview of Drift Compensation.

Let’s look at an addressable detector on a Silent Knight addressable fire alarm control panel. When a detector is installed and programmed, it communicates with the fire alarm control panel to determine a variety of thresholds. These thresholds determine events like trouble and alarm conditions. Once the detector reaches a specific threshold, the trouble or alarm condition would occur. Over time, detectors will accumulate contaminates such as dust, which can cause the sensitivity of the detector to change. In order to keep the sensitivity constant, the detectors adjust their internal thresholds to compensate for these contaminates. This process of adjustment is called Drift Compensation and ensures that detectors have the same sensitivity as when they were first taken out of the box.

detector values - drift compensation

Eventually, detectors will reach a point where they will not be able to compensate for contaminates. When this occurs, a Calibration Trouble will annunciate for the detector or detectors in question. It is important to note that addressable detector chambers can be cleaned. A new detector is not required when it reaches its Calibration threshold. When a clean detector is reinstalled, the panel and detector will communicate to reestablish thresholds and the Calibration Trouble will restore. Aside from keeping a constant sensitivity over time, a key benefit of Drift Compensation is that it dramatically decreases the amount of service calls as the time between cleanings increases.

Did you know the Detector Status upload with SKSS software is a U.L. listed Calibrated Sensitivity Smoke test? Please leave a comment by clicking on the Leave a Reply link above to enter your request.


About the Author
Jack Grones is an Application Engineer with Silent Knight and holds a NICET Level III certification.  Jack joined Silent Knight in 1978 and is responsible for applications and technical support.

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.​