How to Operate Your Fire Panel: Trouble and Supervisory Signals (Video)

Posted by Lee Kaiser on Feb 3, 2017 10:41:32 AM

In our Causes and Cures for the Top 7 Fire Protection Challenges Seminar, Fire Protection Expert Lee Kaiser explained how fire panels operate and what operators should be aware of when using them. Watch the video below for Lee's explanation of trouble and supervisory signals on your fire panel.


Video Transcript

Lee: "Another signal is the trouble signal, or trouble condition. It means that something in the fire alarm is broken. So it could be, oh gosh, it could be an open circuit where a wire's broken and we don't have a continuous electrical pathway back to the panel. It could be a loss of power. Maybe the main power to the building is down and the panel switched over to secondary power. Or maybe there's a loss of communication with the device. Maybe someone to clean twisted that detector out of its base and now the system can't communicate with it. So that would cause a trouble at the system.

Trouble conditions mean that there's something wrong with the fire alarm system itself. And so what the panel, for our example again, with this green display it says we've got a trouble with the pull station ICU west wing. It's got an invalid reply. So there's a problem with communication between the pull station out in the field back to the panel. Here we've got a little yellow light lit up next to the word trouble, as well as the piezo on the panel going off making that annoying little noise. 

What buttons do we push in that situation? I can press the acknowledge button again and that will stop the panel from beeping just like it did under alarm. It also registers I pressed it so I acknowledge into the system that I acknowledged the trouble. Troubles, and supervisories that we'll talk about next, those piezo horns will resound after 24 hours. If you haven't fixed the condition it'll resound after 24 hours. For facilities people, what we want to get across is we don't want your facilities procedure to be to walk in and press the silence button every morning to keep your system from yelling at you. That's not maintenance." 

Audience:  "You got 24 hours."

Lee: "So before you go get your first cup of coffee, silence the panel for the day and then you're good 'til tomorrow. Right? No, we don't want you to do that. That's why we're talking this morning. 

Scroll, that's another button we haven't talked about. In that multiline LCD display on panels, if you have multiple events, the scroll button will help you scroll through those things so you can see all the different conditions on your panel. Sometimes multiple trouble conditions may occur because of whatever's happened to the system.

What's important about troubles is when they're fixed, they clear automatically. We don't have to reset the panel for a trouble. When we fix the problem, then the trouble is going to automatically clear. That's true for supervisory signals as well. Alarms we have to reset, but troubles and supervisories clear once the offending condition is fixed.

Supervisory conditions and the signal from the panel when it happens, we use fire alarm systems to monitor other systems in the building such as a sprinkler system. We supervise the sprinkler system via tamper switches or monitor switches on valves to make sure that those sprinkler valves are in the correct position.

When we talk about suppression systems, we're looking at the pressure switches to make sure that the tank's pressure is pressurized correctly. I've even seen in a hospital example where they use the fire alarm system to monitor the temperature in a blood cooler. They have blood for patients and they watch the temperature there. If it got too hot, it brought in the supervisory signal at the panel. It was used as a monitoring device, which is allowed for by the code.

The important thing is the supervisory you're watching. There's an off normal condition with another system to the fire alarm system's watching versus the fire alarm system, the troubles.  Troubles are for the fire alarm system itself. That's the distinction.

The buttons that you can press: Acknowledge, again logs that you acknowledged it, stops the panel from beeping, and resounds in 24 hours. Scroll, again, goes through multiple events, and then Supervisories clear automatically." 

Thank you for watching this video blog on Trouble and Supervisory Signals. Stay tuned next week for another video blog installment from the "Causes and Cures: Top 7 Fire Protection Challenges" Seminar. If you would like to attend a seminar in-person, please visit our events page to view topics, locations, and dates for our 2017 Fire Protection Seminar Series.


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Problem 1: How to Operate Your Fire Panel

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