How to Use MOP and FAT to Monitor Transit Fire Alarm Systems

By Andrew Erickson

June 11, 2024

Effective fire alarm monitoring is crucial for any organization. Doing so maintains safety and compliance with regulations. Recently, one of our clients reached out for assistance with setting up and testing the new VersAlarm Z units at one of their locations. This client oversees safety systems at a large transportation system in the New York / New Jersey region.

Together, we will discuss the conversation between John, a Digitize engineer, and the client as the two worked together to set up these alarms. Their conversation highlights the collaborative efforts and technical insights required to achieve optimal fire alarm monitoring solutions.

Let's dive in!

Train from a transit system
Fire alarm monitoring is especially important for transit systems

Addressing Complex Installations and Testing Needs

The installation and testing of fire alarm systems often involve meticulous planning and coordination. Our client needed guidance on setting up a Method of Procedure (MOP) and conducting a Field Acceptance Test (FAT) for the new VersAlarm Z units. John aided in this creation, providing essential support:

"I went through the MOP and edited several items. Sorry if I messed up some of your formatting. Take a look and let me know if you have any questions. I'm sure we'll be making a few more changes before we're done."

John's willingness to review and refine the MOP demonstrates the importance of detailed documentation in ensuring the correct installation and operation of fire alarm systems. The Method of Procedure is vital as it outlines the step-by-step process for installing and testing the equipment.

This organized documentation makes sure that every aspect is covered. It also reduces the risk of errors during implementation.

VersAlarm Monitoring Device

Overcoming Network Configuration Challenges

Network configuration can be a significant challenge during the setup of fire alarm monitoring systems. Our client faced issues with assigning the correct IP addresses for the VersAlarm Z units.

They needed to assign these IP addresses to ensure the alarms could be tested. The assigned IP addresses also ensure the alarms can be integrated into the existing network. John suggested a practical solution:

"If we set them to their final IP address, you will not be able to test it locally at the site. I think they'll have to be set up to an IP address on the site's VLAN ID# IP address range for local testing."

This recommendation to use a specific VLAN for local testing guarantees that the VersAlarm Z units can be properly tested without disrupting the existing network configuration. The ability to reconfigure the IP settings after testing allows for seamless integration into the final network setup.

Ensuring Detailed Programming and Testing

Precise programming and thorough testing are critical for the reliable operation of fire alarm systems. John emphasized the importance of capturing programming details and conducting thorough testing:

"I took screenshots of the VAZ web interface programming screens. It's currently in a rich text document format. As soon as I convert it to a Word doc, would you like a copy of the screenshots?"

By capturing and documenting the programming screens, John makes sure that there is a clear reference for any future adjustments or troubleshooting. This level of detail is essential for maintaining the integrity and functionality of the fire alarm system.

This demonstrates that John knows the importance of documentation and is well educated on the subject. It also shows his thoughtful consideration of the client's needs.

Coordinating Methodical Testing Procedures

Ensuring that fire alarm systems operate correctly under various conditions is essential. Our client expressed the need for a structured testing approach that goes beyond both ad hoc and 'torture' tests. John suggested a more controlled and methodical testing environment:

"I asked (Digitize engineer) Albert if we could stop the torture test so we can conduct more methodical testing. We can then refine the test procedure. I assume at some point you'd like to come for a dry run of the testing?"

By advocating for methodical testing, John highlighted the importance of controlled environments. Such environments allow you to accurately assess the functionality and reliability of the fire alarm systems. This approach ensures the integrity of the systems and allows for precise identification and rectification of potential issues.

Preparing for Final Acceptance Testing (FAT)

Final Acceptance Testing (FAT) is a necessary step in verifying that all systems meet the specified requirements before being put into operation. Our client and John coordinated the preparations for this critical phase:

"Once our testing is complete, we can schedule the FAT. After the FAT, we can program the VersAlarm-Z panels to the IP addresses and phone numbers provided."

The preparation for FAT involves ensuring that all components and configurations are thoroughly tested and validated. This step is essential for gaining the client’s confidence that the system will perform as expected in real-world conditions.

VersAlarm panel
VersAlarm 8 Zone Ethernet Monitoring System

Detailed IP Configuration and Documentation

Proper documentation of IP configurations is vital for the seamless operation and future maintenance of fire alarm systems. John emphasized the need for precise documentation and verification of network settings:

"I added two columns to the VersAlarm Z (VAZ) Master List. Subnet Mask and Gateway. These will be important when programming the VAZ panels."

This meticulous documentation ensures that all network settings are clearly defined and easily accessible for future reference. Clear, accessible information helps prevent configuration errors and simplifies troubleshooting. This enhances the overall reliability of the fire alarm monitoring system.

Collaborating for Effective Implementation

Effective fire alarm monitoring systems require close collaboration between different stakeholders. Our client and John worked together to finalize the setup and verify that all necessary details were captured and addressed:

"To summarize, we will use the Digitize standard IP addresses for testing and FAT. Once that work is complete, we will change the IP and phone number to the information provided for the pump room."

This clear summary and agreement on the next steps highlight the collaborative effort needed for the successful implementation of fire alarm systems. By working together and keeping open lines of communication, potential issues can be identified and resolved promptly.

Tailored Solutions for Specific Needs

Each client’s requirements can vary significantly. This means tailored solutions that address their specific needs are also a requirement. John and our client discussed the customization of the VersAlarm Z units to fit the unique requirements of the location:

"The VAZs will be set to the 3rd site IP address and telco #s assigned by the customer agency for initial programming and testing at the site. Once VAZ programming and testing is complete at the site, the VAZ IP addresses will be changed to their final-location IP address and settings assigned by the agency."

This tailored approach ensures that the fire alarm systems are configured to meet the specific needs of the client. This enhances their effectiveness and reliability. It also demonstrates Digitize's commitment to providing customized solutions that address the unique challenges faced by each client.

We Can Help You Enact a Plan

Effective collaboration and detailed planning can overcome the challenges of fire alarm monitoring systems and their installations. Working with experienced professionals ensures reliable and compliant safety solutions.

If you have any questions or want to get started on creating a solution fit just for you, contact the Digitize team today. Our expert engineers are ready to help you achieve seamless and reliable fire alarm monitoring solutions created specifically for your specific needs.

Call 1-800-693-0351 or email for expert assistance in optimizing your fire alarm monitoring systems.

Andrew Erickson

Andrew Erickson

Andrew Erickson is an Application Engineer at DPS Telecom, a manufacturer of semi-custom remote alarm monitoring systems based in Fresno, California. Andrew brings more than 17 years of experience building site monitoring solutions, developing intuitive user interfaces and documentation, and...Read More