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Comparing The Use Of Commercial Fire Alarm Control Processors And Programmable Logic Controllers In A Safety And Fire Program Fire Alarm System Engineering Course

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Instrumentation and Controls Laboratories

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.310.1 - 13.310.12



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Paper Authors


Harry Franz University of Houston-Downtown

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Prof. Harry Franz is an Associate Professor in the Control & Instrument Electronics Design
Program and Safety & Fire Program at the University of Houston Downtown (UHD) in Houston, Texas. He has a BSEE and MSEE from the University of Pittsburgh. He holds a current P.E. and is a member of the NSPE and TSPE. He has worked in industry for sixteen years. He is a member of the IEEE and advisor to the UHD IEEE Student Organization. He is also a member the ASEE and ISA. He has been very active in the Tau-Alpha-Pi national ET honor society.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Comparing the use of Commercial Fire Alarm Control Processors and Programmable Logic Controllers in a Safety and Fire Program Fire Alarm System Engineering Course


The purpose of this paper is to compare the use of commercial fire control processors and programmable logic controllers for a university Safety and Fire program fire alarm system engineering course.

The commercial fire alarm system includes a basic Honeywell Fire Lite Alarm Control Panel system and a Honeywell Fire Lite Addressable Fire Alarm Control Panel system. The logic controllers include the GE Fanuc controllers and the Automation Direct logic controllers. Advantages and disadvantages of the use of the types of logic controller for the fire alarm engineering course are considered. How each type of controller is used in the course and teaching practices that use each type are discussed. Learning strategies for course project work also are given.

The students of the fire alarm engineering course often have diverse technical experience and academics. Most of these students also work fulltime in safety and fire or other industrial fields while attending courses at the university. Many of the program graduates will later work in the safety and fire engineering fields. It is important that the students of the fire alarm engineering class upon graduation be familiar with specific commercial fire alarm control units and generic automation control units.

The students work on the fire alarm control in groups of two or three students. The exchange of knowledge within the groups helps to enhance the understanding of both the commercial fire alarm control processors and the automation controllers. The support by other group members also gives confidence to students.

The use of the commercial Honeywell Fire Lite Fire Alarm Control Processor type of unit allows the students to become familiar with actual commercial fire alarm systems. The more intelligent Honeywell addressable control units do require some programming. This also becomes a practical application tool that is pertinent for designs. In addition, the knowledge of particular commercial fire alarm controllers is a very valuable asset for students when they are employed in the filed of safety and fire.

The generic automation logic controllers encourage a more general range of logic programming skills that include programming in ladder logic, statements, and functional blocks. The advantage of the use of generic logic controllers by the students is that it promotes a wide range in the use of logic control concepts for a variety of applications that are beyond applications of specific manufactures equipment.

Student group exercise and project examples are given that use the various logic control units.

Franz, H. (2008, June), Comparing The Use Of Commercial Fire Alarm Control Processors And Programmable Logic Controllers In A Safety And Fire Program Fire Alarm System Engineering Course Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3179

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