Detailed Security System & Fire Alarm Definitions
Quick Reference Security Systems Definitions
Fire Alarms & Accessories Definitions
Door Access Control Definitions
Closed Circuit Television CCTV Definitions
Phone Systems Definitions


24 Hour zone - A device that is always armed, such as a panic button or a smoke detector.

Alarm Screens - These are window screens that have a special wire woven through the screen and around the frame. It is designed to detect if the screen is cut or removed.

Alpha Display - A Keypad that has an alphanumeric display that can give a description of an alarm condition in text format rather than LED's.

Arming - The same as "Activating" or "Turning On" the alarm system.

Audio Detector - A device that detects breaking glass within a certain range or the glass. Some glassbreak detectors use a digital signal analysis to reduce false alarms.

Bypass - The process is which a zone is temporally ignored or disconnected from the alarm system. Bypassed devices cannot trigger an alarm.

Central Station - A remote location that receives signals from the alarm system. Also known as "Monitoring" or "Monitoring Station".

Contacts - A device that attaches to a door or window to detect if the door or window is opened.

Controlled Zones - Zones, such as a motion detector and door or window contacts, that have the ability to be turned on or off. The opposite of a "24 Hour Zone"

Dis-Arm - The same as "Deactivating" or "Turning Off" the alarm system.

Dual Detector - A device that utilizes to forms of technologies for alarm detection. The result is usually less prone to false alarms.

Entry Delay - The period of time that a user has to dis-arm the alarm system.

Exit Delay - The period of time that a user has to exit the protected area after the alarm system has been armed.

Fire Alarm Verification - A feature designed to reduce potential false alarms by automatically resetting a smoke detector the first time it detects smoke. An alarm is triggered when the smoke detector detects smoke the second time.

Floor Mats - Pressure sensitive mats that are usually hidden underneath rugs. An alarm is triggered when the area is walked on.

Foil - A conductive metallic tape attached to glass that triggers an alarm when the tape is ripped by the breaking of the glass.

Force Arming - The act of arming an alarm system when a device is in a trouble or alarm condition. This device is usually bypassed by the control panel until the alarm system is turned off again. Some alarm systems will automatically arm this device after it is no longer in trouble or alarm condition.

Hard-wired - An alarm system that utilizes wires to connect some or all of the devices to the control panel.

Heat Detector, Fixed - A detector that will trigger an alarm when the temperature of the device reaches a preset limit.

Heat Detector, Rate of Rise - A detector that will trigger an alarm when the temperature of the detector increases at a preset rate within a preset period of time.

Interior Zones - A device such as a motion detector that protects the interior of a protected area. These "Interior Zones" can usually be armed separately from "Perimeter Zones".

Keypad - A device that interfaces with the control panel to either arm or dis-arm the alarm system.

LED - Also known as a "Light Emitting Diode". This device is usually used keypads to convey alarm system status.

Microwave - A motion detector that utilizes radio waves to detect motion. This technology is almost always used in conjunction with Passive Infrared (PIR) in dual-tech motion detectors.

Monitoring - The term used when sending alarm system signals to a remote location such as a central station.

Motion Detector - A security device that is designed to detect motion or movement within a protected area.

PIR - Also known as Passive Infrared, this device detects motion within a protected area by reading Infrared Energy.

Panic Button- A device that is triggers an alarm when activated by a user. The alarm system may respond by activating the sirens or sending a silent alarm to a central station.

Partition - A separate area of protection within a protected area. This protected area would still be armed when the rest of the alarm system is disarmed. It's the same as having a totally separate alarm system without having to purchase additional equipment. Some alarm systems allow control of all partitions from one keypad.

Perimeter Zone- A zone that has devices such as glassbreak detectors and door or window contacts connected to it.

Photoelectric: A term used commonly with smoke detectors and photoelectric (PE) beams. A beam or light is transmitted to a receiver. An alarm occurs when the receiver does or does not receive the beam of light, depending on the device.

Point of Protection - An individual detection device such as a door or window contact or a motion detector. Several points of protection can be wired into a single zone.

Pull Station - A fire alarm device that is manually activated. The devices are usually located next to a exit door.

RF - An abbreviation for Radio Frequency. A term used to describe the transmission method of wireless equipment.

Remote Programming - The act of accessing a control panel's programming through the telephone lines. The ability to access the program in the control panel and make changes.

Shock Detector - A device that detects the vibrations caused by breaking glass.

Smoke Detector - A device that detects the smoke. Smoke detector incorporate technologies such as ionization and photoelectric. A heat detector can be built-in to the smoke detector for added protection.

Stand by - A term that refers to the power provided to an alarm system by a battery backup in the event of a power outage.

Swinger Shunt - A feature on some alarm systems that automatically bypasses and deactivate a zone after a preset number of alarms, during a armed cycle. Some alarm systems will reactivate the zone if it stabilizes after a period of time.

UL - An abbreviation for Underwriters Laboratories. This is a non-profit organization that sets the standards for security devices, the installation of security systems, and the monitoring of security systems.

User Codes - These codes are used to arm, disarm, or perform other operations of the alarm system. Most alarm systems have the ability to assign access levels (authority levels) to alarm system features and areas or protection (partitions).

Walk Test - A term used commonly with motion detectors for the purpose of testing the detection pattern of the device.

Wireless - An alarm system that utilizes RF (radio frequency) to send status signals from detection devices to the control panel.

Zone - A point of protection or group of points of protection in an alarm system. Each zone has it's own description as far as location and type of alarm (panic, burglary or fire).