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Is it Time for Park Districts to Replace Fire Alarm Circuits?

ist1_6129650-think-out-of-the-boxRAM Communications helps park districts audit and manage telecommunications contracts, invoices and service agreements. Recently, we were helping one of our clients manage a transition between phone companies. We had planned to move their core services to another provide, and that went smoothly—the problem came when we needed to figure out a solution for this particular park district’s fire alarm circuits. The budget was already high, and it kept rising. Luckily, one of our peers helped us find an alternative

Switching From Telephone Companies’ Circuits

Fire alarm circuits, also referred to as ‘dry circuits’ and point-to-point circuits, are a private, copper line connection between a facility and the local fire department. For decades, this technology has been used to ensure secure and quick communication in the event of an emergency.

In recent years, however, telephone companies like AT&T and Verizon have been moving to relieve themselves of managing these circuits. As a result, these carriers continually raise the cost of these circuits. Circuit cost is based on two factors. The first factor is overall speed (1.5, 3.0 mb, etc.). The second is distance. The farther your park facility is from the fire department, the higher the cost will be. In some cases, you may be spending several hundred dollars per month, if not more. Additionally, because these carriers want to get out of this particular service, you can expect that rates will continue to rise every time you need to renew your contract.

Point-to-Point Wireless Technology

Thankfully, there is an alternative. Depending on your park’s location and if you are in a major metropolitan area, many fire departments may be encouraging their park district communities to switch to a newer technology. That technology is known technically as multiband fixed wireless radio or Point-to-Point Wireless.

What Can Park Districts Do?

Point-to-Point wireless technology, or PPW, is much faster to install, cheaper to maintain and manage over traditional P2P circuits. The installation requires a small base station and a fixed antenna. Depending on your proximity to the local fire department, you could save up to 60 percent on your emergency monitoring-service budget.

  • Check with your fire department today to get more information about this technology and to find out if it’s available and whether it would be ideal for your park district.
  • Call your municipality’s non-emergency number and ask to talk to someone knowledgeable about PPW.

If PPW is available for your Park District’s facilities, the fire marshal should be able to recommend a vendor to you—these recommendations are reliable, and you should go with the fire department’s recommended vendor. The right vendor should have experience installing and testing service with your local fire department.

Finally, make sure you take steps to ensure your new PPW service is installed and tested with the fire department before you cancel your old services with the phone company. Don’t just assume everything will work, because you don’t want to encounter any problems with not being able to get a hold of the fire department in the interim.

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