Old School Fire Alarm Question


Senior Member
I currently have an 8 zone Fire Alarm panel that is separate from my security panel. It has been working fine for twenty some years but someday I would like to divide my zones into smaller areas which would double the number of zones I need.

I have been reading about the features of combo panels such as the Elk M-1 and thought about using something like that to consolidate fire and security rather than buying another dedicated FA panel. My problem is that I'm not sure these new fangled panels will do what I need.

First: I use motorized bells rather than siren drivers. At 60 mA per bell you can't beat the ratio of loud noise to low current. Also I have never had one fail, ever, so I'm sold their reliability. It looks like the Elk and most other panels will run and supervise moterized fire alarm bells. Am I correct in believing this?

Second: My current panel gives me both master alarm and master trouble outputs as well as alarm and trouble outputs for each zone. I assume that is also pretty standard? (I think Elk lets you program relays to provide these outputs).

Third: (and most important) All zones on my panel support 2-wire smoke detectors and that is what I mostly have installed. (more than 20 of them). From what I read of most new panels, they only support 1 zone of 2-wire smoke detectors. Is this really true? Is there a workaround? I don't want to rewire for 4-wire units and deal with end-of-line relays and such. Also I have never had problems with my 2-wire smoke detectors and even though I replace them every few years as part of routine system maintenance, I have never actually had one fail.

Anybody know why panel makers won't offer more zones of 2-wire smoke circuits? Am I going to be stuck buying another dedicated Fire Alarm panel instead of an Elk or some other cool fire/security combo system?