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Fire and Security Monitoring System Communications

In previous posts, we have talked about active and passive forms of monitoring, and the different types of channels available to accomplish these forms of monitoring. To expand upon that article, we thought it was appropriate to outline the different forms of monitoring channels we can provide for you to help you make the best choice. Below are the different kinds of monitoring you may encounter out in the security industry:

Digital Dialer

The digital dialer utilizes a regular telephone line – POTS – to communicate alarms to our Signals Receiving Centre (SRC). Considered solely a “passive” form of communication, this method uses an available phone line to send alarms to the monitoring station. This line does not need to be dedicated, as equipment that utilizes a digital dialer sits quietly on the line, “seizes” (takes over) the line during an alarm, and then releases the line again when it has completed transmitting. These systems primarily use copper, analog phone lines and may have difficulty transmitting using a “digital” IP-based service. If you have an alarm system which uses a phone line, please consider this or call FMC to discuss prior to making the switch. Sometimes a service call from a technician is required, sometimes moving to another form of communication is the only way to keep your monitoring.


Communicating via cellular is possible through the addition of a cellular communications module which is connected to your monitoring panel. This module may be integral to the transmitter, or may be an additional unit. Cellular modules can be programmed to be considered active or passive. Often, cellular modules can be added to existing system to provide an additional layer of security to your existing service. These communications modules send signals to our SRC through the existing cellular networks via 2G, 3G or 4G technologies, depending on the age of your system and the manufacturer of the cellular transmitter.


IP (or Internet Protocol) utilizes the internet to send signals to our SRC. In situations where IP is used, we utilize internet as provided by you to connect to our panel and communicate. This may require the coordination of an IT department for connections to switches and routers, as well as fitting into the existing IT security protocol. IP connections can be configured as active or passive, however active communications require that the entire communication pathway be backed up with 24 hour uninterruptible power supplies (per CAN/ULC-S561).


DVACS (or Dedicated Voice Activates Communication System) is an older, robust communication technology, provided by the telecommunications industry. This system utilizes the existing telecom infrastructure to provide a direct link between your facility and FMC’s SRC, and is considered an active form of communication. DVACS is likely still the most reliable form of fire alarm monitoring, given the infrastructure behind the network, however most manufacturers no longer create product which utilizes this form of communication. FMC has the ability to service existing DVACS customers, however we no longer install “new” DVACS systems (though FMC can “take over” existing DVACS equipment if required, but cannot issue ULC Certificates on “new” DVACS customers).

As you can see, there are many different combinations of monitoring available for you, whether it is for fire alarm monitoring or an intrusion system. Call us for a no-obligation sales visit to determine what method (or methods) may be right for you.

9 thoughts on “Fire and Security Monitoring System Communications

  1. Hello –

    We currently utilize our stock of DVACS equipment for servicing our existing customers who have this installed.

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