[VoiceOps] ATAs compatible with fire alarm panels

Tim Bray tim at kooky.org
Fri Jan 8 08:06:58 EST 2021

On 15/12/2020 21:34, Camille Issa wrote:
> Hello all – looking for recommendations (other than keeping the analog 
> line) for VoIP ATA’s that are compatible with fire alarm panels. 
> Anyone got a good working solution out there?

I would honestly update the fire alarm.  Or at least the comms board in 
the alarm.

Our alarm has dual channel monitoring.  Ethernet into our internet (We 
have 4 diverse connections with BGP) and a backup  4G modem.

Both channels are fairly continuously monitored and we get pretty 
instant alerts from the monitoring company if either channel fails.

It's actually 1 combined comms board that does both the intruder alarm 
and the fire alarm.   When we changed to this arrangement, they swapped 
a GSM/analog comms board for an ethernet/4G  comms board.

It is good because the intruder alarm beeps and moans if a comms channel 
is down.  And you have to say yes to acknowledge if you want to lock up.

Why potentially risk lives on crappy dialup and analogue lines? And then 
make it worse by putting an ATA in the mix?  If you have a fire, you 
will want the fire service really quickly.


Like 15 years ago when the voip technology really started coming 
together, loads of service providers were nonchalant about even routing 
999 calls (in UK, 112 or 911 in other regions). Excuses like: "We will 
tell them they have to keep a landline somewhere"  or "They can use 
their mobiles" or "When do people call that"

To be honest, I was a bit `That is something we can sort later`.   The 
regulator leaned and people woke up a bit.

One service provider said `I've done all the work for 999, all the 
passing address details properly,  and we carried 12 calls yesterday`.  
I think they had about 10k customers then.  So that is 12 ambulances, 
police incidents  .....

Another service provider were really worried about nuisance calls.  Or 
something going wrong.  So decided to raise a priority task into their 
support team whenever any customer dialled 999 and they would 
immediately follow up.    999 call went through, ITSP support team rang 
the main reception of their customer with `bob has just dialled 999, is 
that a real emergency or what?`

Anyway, bob's colleagues found him collapsed in his office, they got 
medical help and he lived.   Seems he'd dialled 999 but didn't stay 
conscious enough to say anything.

With these stories around, all the UK service providers (through people 
like ITSPA) got their acts together and got 999 sorted.

Which drives home to me.  These emergency things you need once every 5 
or 10 years.  When you need them, you need them.  And if they don't 
work, it is lives on the line.


Tim Bray
Huddersfield, GB
tim at kooky.org

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