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2018 Edition, 2018

Complete Document

Wireless Communications Technology for Fire and Life Safety Systems

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Introduction and Purpose

With the ever-changing advancements in communications, the use of wireless technology to transfer information without an electrical conductor is taking a larger position in today’s society. Since radio frequency modulation, light, and sound were introduced in the late 1800s to transmit information, wireless communication has been extremely significant moving forward in the modern world. This becomes apparent especially when considering the use of device and system connectivity to perform a limitless number of tasks, such as controlling and monitoring functions between multiple different platforms and users.

The purpose of this document is to give a brief overview of wireless technology and lead into a potential series of documents aimed at the specifics of various technologies, challenges, advantages, and regulatory requirements.

The term Internet of Things (IoT) refers to a network of objects, devices, or other “things” that use various hardware, software, sensors, and means of connectivity to collect and exchange data for a potentially infinite list of uses. One of the main functions is to integrate data between multiple devices to allow for increased efficiency, accuracy in a wide variety of tasks and functions, and remote access.

With the incorporation of wireless technology and the introduction of IoT, into the Fire, Life Safety, Security, and Emergency Communications section of the electronics industry, there is now easier communication between systems providing environmental, functional, and system data for use in trending and other data analysis. One example is the incorporation of sensors to record conditions in a building for fire investigations. In fire conditions, a series of actions can occur where sensors can unlock doors for egress, shut down HVAC units, pressurize egress paths for increased visibility, light exit routes, and monitor progress or conditions from remote locations.

One of the significant advantages of wireless communication over conventional wired systems is the ease of installation, significant cost savings and the ability to modify and expand a system, especially in existing or historical buildings. These advantages, as well as others, and some disadvantages of wireless communications will be discussed in further detail throughout this document.

There are many available wireless technology protocols available in today’s market that include WiFi, Proprietary RF, ZigBee, EnOcean, Z-wave, and Bluetooth. The sections below discuss some protocol uses in commercial and residential settings, advantages, disadvantages, associated regulations, and trends.
ANSI/NEMA MW 1000, 2014