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March 2016

How PURVIS FSAS Monitors its Own Health

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With so much riding on a Fire Station Alerting System (FSAS), it’s critical that departments are fully aware of any operational issues as soon as they occur. Automated fire station monitoring allows designated personnel to quickly determine equipment problems within the fire station such as failed communication hardware, downed connections and backup power system operation. Sophisticated self-monitoring provides visual and audible notification and can tie into text messaging or email servers for real-time notification of a network or alerting system malfunction. This enables fire service personnel and the FSAS system vendor to proactively correct the problem, maximizing system uptime and reducing the chance of a missed call.

Automated system monitoring in action

Here’s how PURVIS FSAS monitors and reports on its own health. PURVIS FSAS monitors the status of each connection between its devices (controllers and IP-based devices) and the dispatch center in real time using “heartbeats,” or polling. The PURVIS FSAS also uses heartbeats to monitor its connection to a department’s CAD system. This includes both the outbound connection to station(s) as well as inbound data from the CAD. The FSAS sends heartbeats at a default interval of every three seconds, but the interval can be configured to suit a department’s preference and needs.

Each corresponding device responds immediately to the heartbeat request. This back-and-forth communication allows the FSAS to verify connectivity. If the FSAS does not receive a heartbeat within a specified time period and after a specific number of allowable failed heartbeats, the connection is marked “down.” Note that some other FSAS systems are unable to identify a failure until as much as one-and-a-half minutes have passed. Because the PURVIS FSAS heartbeat internal is configurable, fire departments can identify failures in as little as nine seconds.

Sending real-time alerts

PURVIS FSAS monitors and sends alerts over all connectivity paths simultaneously, ensuring no delay in sending failure alerts to the fire department. When a connection is marked “down,” the FSAS reports the failed connection on the FSAS dispatch management console via both an audible and visual alert, ensuring compliance with NFPA 1221 standards. The PURVIS system also automatically sends these alerts to the affected fire station(s) and via email to designated personnel, and can also send alerts via SMS text messages if desired. The alert identifies the station(s) impacted and the devices that have failed.

In case of network failure…

In the event that a department’s main network (for example, Fiber Optic connection) completely fails, the PURVIS FSAS Station Control Units (SCUs) detect the loss of communication between the stations and the FSAS central servers. At that point, the SCU in the affected station(s) defaults to radio bypass mode. Since PURVIS FSAS sends all dispatch alerts over all IP network and audio-over-radio paths simultaneously, the automated text-to-speech announcements get fed from the fire station’s radio through the SCU to the worksite speakers.