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Can I tell what phone number is being dialed by an alarm panel?

Can I tell what phone number is being dialed by an alarm panel?

Can I tell what phone number is being dialed by an alarm panel?

Hi everyone:

Let me explain my dilemma. We have this fire alarm panel installed in the manager's office in our apartment complex. It says "Silent Knight 5808" on the front of it. It works by having sensors in the air ducts all over the complex. And if one of them is tripped by smoke the panel is supposed to connect to the monitoring company and report the issue. They in turn would either call me, or send a fire department in.

So it worked quite reliably until about 2 weeks ago when it started going off in the middle of the night all by itself with an error message "AUTOTEST COMM ERROR." It is very annoying too, since it wakes me up pretty much every night!

What is also very frustrating is that if I reset this fire alarm panel in the morning it starts working fine... that is until the next night when the issue repeats.

Since then I tried calling the technical support people from the sticker on the front panel. And the guy told me that the "noise on the phone line" is to blame.

OK. I then called the telephone company (Comcast.) They sent a technician out that basically told me that the phone line is digital or Voip (it goes via the ARRIS modem) and that it can't have noise on it. So he left.

Now at this point I don't know what else to do...

Thus I was thinking to somehow try to "ping" this alarm box (I can open it and see where the phone line/cable is connecting to -- it actually has two phone lines.) I was even able to unscrew the line wires themselves, plug them into an old corded phone and call myself from it. That let me know the phone numbers for the lines.

My goal now is to find out the phone number that the panel dials out when it can't connect at night (when it shows that error message.) If I know the phone number that it tries to dial I can call it from my cellphone to see if it even works. Because something tells me that they probably have some kind of a server issue on their side. Anyway, just a try... so any help would be appreciated!

RE: Can I tell what phone number is being dialed by an alarm panel?

The 800 number will just tell you what number you are calling from, not the number you are dialing. I would take a regular home phone and plug it in to the jack that should be inside the fire panel and verify there isn't noise on it. Could be the wiring between the ARRIS and the panel.
There is just as good of chance that the VoIP line it is on doesn't support modem traffic very well. Make sure your carrier knows it is a'fax' type line. The Voip protocal is T38.

Dermis and feline can be divorced by manifold methods.*
*(Disclaimer for all advise given)--'Version Dependent'

RE: Can I tell what phone number is being dialed by an alarm panel?

Thanks. That line is the exact same configuration that worked just fine since about 2014 when we switched to the Comcast digital service. Why would it start failing now? Plus the Comcast technician that came out a couple of days ago could clearly see what the line was used for. I'm assuming he'd say something if it was not compatible. The main question though is why would it work during the day but then fail at night?

RE: Can I tell what phone number is being dialed by an alarm panel?

I do not see how calling the number with another phone or phone line will help you.

The number it calls is a modem at the alarm companies site.
If it cannot communicate properly then it will display an alarm just like a bad fax will print out the error report.

You alarm panel is calling the alarms companies modem at 2am every night as part of the Auto Test.....it sense's trouble on the line, spits out the error and shuts down since in the event of a real fire it wont be able to communicate with the alarm company anyway.
I doubt there end is an issue since several people would have complained and issue fixed in a heart beat.

So right now peoples lives are at risk so I suggest the owner/super demand a resolution right away without further delay.

Things that can be done:
-Disconnect the 2nd device if the one line is shared with something else
-If there is a RJ31 Alarm jack then make sure modem is into Red an Green and back out on Blue and White to the second device/phone.
-Try another modular phone cord if not hard wired
-Tighten/check all connections
-Try another Comcast modem
-Try another phone line (temporarily)
-Per budbryd's comment above test the line with a fax machine to see if it transmits OK, if not then you know it is Comcasts side
-Ask Alarm company is there is a way to come out and test it
-Escalate to Comcast supervisor
-Threaten lawsuit and/or changing carriers
-Get a land line back

Some alarm companies will not use Cable due to liability issues, also some offer cellular wireless backup solutions.

I am guessing Comcasts Modem but you never know it could be the Alarms panels modem board too.

BTW why are you involved in this?are you the telecom vendor for the site you live in?
and how/what wakes you up at night? beeping at the alarm panel?

Quick fix to get sleep is change the Auto Test time to 8 in the morning.

Outta Ammo!


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Toronto, CAN

RE: Can I tell what phone number is being dialed by an alarm panel?

Thanks for the info, curlycord.

To answer your question, I'm an assistant manager. My apartment is adjacent to the manager's office. So when that issue happens the alarm panel starts making loud noise, which I can hear from my apartment. (That's what wakes me up.) And yes, I understand your concern. I brought this up in front of the manager (it's been happening for over 2 weeks now) but I don't think she cares that much. First she told me, "I don't understand how it works. Can you call them?" So I did and got nowhere. The issue, just like I said earlier, is that I show her this error message but then we reset the fire panel at 9 AM and it shows "No problem". So she thinks it's done. But then at night the problem repeats. So to answer your other question, then no, it's not my job to service or even deal with alarms. I'm the one who gets woken up every night by it, so it's kinda in my interest to get it fixed. Lastly, about your concern of an actual fire happening in the building, then I am obviously on site so if that happens the alarm panel will also wake me up. Although, I should admit that now with it going off every night like this I will be less prone to react quickly to it. In any case, I'll try to escalate the issue on Monday.

RE: Can I tell what phone number is being dialed by an alarm panel?

Some alarm panels do not play well with cable phone service. or it could be bad wiring from the cable box to the panel. Most apartment buildings have some pretty shoddy wiring to the alarm panel. Either hook up a real phone line, use Ethernet, or get cellular. If you were in LA Id come fix it

Telephone System Repair
Los Angeles

RE: Can I tell what phone number is being dialed by an alarm panel?

Just a quick follow-up and a resolution. We were able to eventually get the fire alarm company to send their tech out. (From the day it broke to the day he came out to check it, took almost a month, shy of a few days. So wow. "great" service!) The guy acknowledged that the issue was the phone line (on their end) that the fire alarm box was connecting to. I tried to get the details from the guy but he was very cagey about it. So he ended up reprogramming the fire panel to use a different phone number to connect to and it's been working fine for the last several days.

PS. What is also amazing to me is how he had to change that phone number: He had to call someone at the home station and that other person first uploaded the entire memory/ROM of the fire panel up to his end. Then the guy reprogrammed it and then downloaded it back. Interestingly an upload one way would take anything from 10 to 15 minutes. Wow! 90's technology. I just hope that it doesn't break again.

RE: Can I tell what phone number is being dialed by an alarm panel?

I miss that old modem sound.......

Remember if it doesn't work hit it harder

Scott UK

RE: Can I tell what phone number is being dialed by an alarm panel?

Have to wonder if the alarm company has one incoming line with their modem locked to a lower speed which will connect better with Cable connected panels. I can't believe (Actually these days I'll believe pretty much anything) that the Alarm company is living with a bad incoming line - they'd have plenty of customers bitching!

RE: Can I tell what phone number is being dialed by an alarm panel?

"they'd have plenty of customers bitching!"
Only if most clients are programmed to call that number.

Could be the hardware as you stated.

dc2000 thanks for updating.


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Toronto, CAN

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