Central Stations

Advances in telecommunications and automation have enabled alarm-monitoring firms—called central stations—to monitor thousands of accounts located almost anywhere. Central stations can provide around-the-clock alarm-signal monitoring and reporting for residential and commercial customers.

Central station companies are required to comply with the NFPA 72 National Fire Alarm Code, which stipulates that these companies be certified, or placarded, by a third-party organization such as FM Approvals. Full-service central station, monitoring-only and alarm installers can earn FM Approval by meeting the requirements of FM Approvals’ Approval Standard 3011, Approval Standard for Central Station Service for Fire Alarms and Protective Equipment Supervision.

The FM Approvals’ placard identifies that the fire alarm system installed at the protected property is monitored and maintained according to the NFPA 72 National Fire Alarm Code via an FM Approved central station service provider and is a part of the FM Approvals follow-up examination.

Why an FM Approvals Placard?

For property owners, an FM Approvals’ placard confirms that your building’s fire alarm system is installed, tested, monitored and maintained according to NFPA 72 National Fire Alarm Code requirements.

If you’re a central station company, our certification (i.e., placard) can differentiate you from other suppliers, while providing broad national acceptance and recognition by authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs).

AHJs benefit from standardized documentation issued by FM Approvals and follow-up audits, two types of “Protected Premise” site checks and another set of qualified eyes offering protection.

  • Step 1

    Contact FM Approvals

    FM Approvals provides a documentation package that includes information about the FM Approval process, including pricing information and other materials that provide more information about the advantages of becoming FM Approved. If sufficient information is provided (i.e., entity name, site and billing address, contact and listing category [complete service, local company or monitoring only]) and FM Approvals agrees to providing the testing, FM Approvals will provide the customer with a proposal letter and a Master Agreement.

  • Step 2

    Client Authorization

    After reviewing the documentation package, the client returns to FM Approvals the signed agreement and applicable documentation. This must be done before an examination date is scheduled.

  • Step 3

    Client Documentation Review

    An engineer is assigned to review documentation. Once all items outlined in the proposal are received and completed, a mutually agreeable examination date is scheduled.

  • Step 4

    Verification Process (exam or site verification)

    The examination includes facilities, receiving equipment, primary and secondary power supplies, signal and test records, and a visit to protected properties with transmission of signals, as applicable, based on scope of company operations. During the examination, the customer is advised of any deficiencies and given the opportunity to correct any deficiencies or variances. Verification of methods used regarding the marking and control of “placarded” locations is defined. 

  • Step 5

    Investigator Drafts Report

    After all variances are addressed, a draft report is prepared. A review of the original engineer’s report involves checks for accuracy and compliance with Approval Standard 3011 requirements.

  • Step 6

    Report Issued, FM Approval Begins

    If all requirements are met to the satisfaction of FM Approvals, the FM Approval report and Certificate of Compliance are issued to the central station company. The central station company is then capable of applying the FM Approved placard at protected facilities, as defined in the report and on the certificate. The listing will appear in the Approval Guide.

  • Step 7

    Re-examination of Central Station

    To maintain FM Approved status, periodic follow-up re-examinations are required. The re-exams are unannounced, with the frequency determined by local authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs). Minimum requirement calls for a re-exam at least every three years, with certain AHJs requiring annual re-exams. FM Approvals can identify the jurisdictions requiring more frequent re-exams.