Wireless Mesh Radio Technology in Fire Alarm Systems

Today, wireless rules! All aspects of our life have been taken over by wireless signals and communications be it mobile phones, tablets or even fire alarm systems.

The three most common methods of signal transmission are:

  • GSM coverage
  • Internet protocol communicators
  • Wireless mesh radio technology

Wireless mesh radio technology was first developed for military related applications. A wireless mesh network or WMN is a communications network that consists of radio nodes that are organized in a mesh topology. This network consists of mesh clients, gateways and routers.

  • Mesh Clients: These are wireless devices.
  • Mesh Routers: Help to move the traffic towards the gateways that are often connected to the internet.
  • Mesh Cloud: The coverage area of the radio nodes is called the mesh cloud.
  • Radio Nodes: The access depends on the radio nodes that link with one another to create a radio network. Even if a single node goes out of operation, the rest of the nodes will continue to function in the network.

Today, wireless fire alarm systems also communicate by using the innovative mesh network protocol.

How Do Mesh Networks Function?

  • Each of the modules of a wireless fire alarm system form a mesh network. This means that each device comprising smoke detectors and monitor modules forms a bi-directional communication structure.
  • Each device also acts as a repeater which transmits the communication from point A to point B.
  • Mesh networks ensure that the systems are reliable and use frequency-hopping to avoid system interference.
  • The mesh network also creates extra communication paths between each device so that if one of the devices is lost, then an alternative route of communication is established.
  • The mesh network uses the “Cascading Wave Protocol” to transmit information to and fro between the wireless devices and the gateway, the core element of the entire wireless system.
  • There is a bi-directional communication for reliable data transmission. This is termed as “parent-child” association. A child has two parents which send the information to the fire panel and all fire panel commands are routed through two paths to the destination devices. In this manner all the information including alerts, remote test functions and other instructions flow through the parent and child devices ensuring all messages are received.
  • Every device sends information to the parents at specific times and in a wireless mesh system, the gateway acts as the master timekeeper that ensures that every device on the network checks-in at regular intervals and is continually monitored.

In the last decade, mesh networks have become increasingly popular in consumer applications and are providing reliable and widespread access. A system operating across a true mesh network provides a secure, safe and robust wireless system.