Douglas Krantz - Technical Writer - Describing How It Works

Can I use Conventional Detectors on Addressable Systems?

The NFPA Code isn't really concerned with the exact way a smoke detector works to send signals, like using the conventional method or the addressable method. They're concerned that the prescribed steps of testing, listing, labeling, and approval are followed.

Can I use Conventional Detectors on Addressedable Systems?

Can I use Conventional Detectors on Addressable Systems?

Greetings Douglas,

I am writing to you to know regarding Semi-addressable system. Can an addressable fire alarm panel be connected to conventional smoke detectors by using an addressable module, as per NFPA 72?

Thank you, AH


The NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) is not a testing laboratory, the NFPA does not list any manufacturer's parts or systems as performing for use, the NFPA doesn't put its stamp of approval (Label) on any manufacturer's parts or systems. The NFPA 72 is a publication from the non-profit organization NFPA showing what is needed to make a safe and reliable, building wide, fire detection and alarm system.


Fully addressable means "Data-is-the-only-method-used-to-Communicate-between-the-Control-Panel-and-all-of-the-Input-/-Output-Devices-in-the-Rest-of-the-Building". There actually are very few fully addressable systems. Most fire alarm systems have at least some conventional circuitry and parts.

Much of the time, fire alarm systems use conventional wiring to the horns alarm horns and strobes. They also use conventional wiring from the addressable input and output modules to the conventional flow switches / tamper switches / suppression systems / door holders / fan shut-downs / smoke dampers / etc. Most fire alarm systems are semi-addressable.

Using Conventional Smoke Detectors on an Addressable System

The NFPA is not against mixing conventional devices and addressable devices, so long as the mixing is in the prescribed acceptance process. The prescribed acceptance process is a procedure using a series of steps for manufacturing, testing, listing for use, labeling, and finally acceptance. Having gone through the steps, the manufacturer shows you in their installation sheets how to connect the parts into the system.


As far as detectors go, the detectors have to be "compatible" with the system that is installed. Remember, a detector is not a detector; some detectors will work with a particular fire alarm system, and some detectors will not work with a particular fire alarm system. If the detector model is not one that originally came with the system, you will have to check with the manufacturer of the detector to make sure it is compatible with the system (this compatibility includes being compatible with the addressable module you mentioned). If you don't check compatibility, you may wind up with a detector that either doesn't work at all, or just sometimes doesn't work right.

If the detector is "compatible" it has been tested by one of the testing laboratories, listed by them as being for use with that particular fire alarm system, and labeled as such (this label could be on the installation sheet that comes with the detector, which will also show the name of the testing laboratory).

Listed and Labeled for Use

Does the NFPA show that a conventional detector can be used in an addressable system by using an addressable module? The detectors that have been tested, listed, labeled, and approved for the particular Fire Detection and Alarm System (FDAS) may be used.

Douglas Krantz
Life Safety
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