Access Control and Fire Alarm System Integration

How to Integrate Access Control with Fire Alarm Systems

person running exit door illustration
Integration of Access Control and Fire Alarm

Door access control systems control the electric locks. They allow authorized people to enter through the controlled doors. However, what happens in the event of a fire? The access control system could prevent people from escaping or prevent the fire department from entering the building. Many municipalities provide rules for how the fire alarm integrates with the door access system. This article describes how to integrate access control and fire alarm systems.

Most fire codes designate that when a fire alarm occurs, the access control system should open all the electric locks to provide free access and exit.  Each municipality has different regulations. In some cases the system can be controlled through the network, in other cases, they may require a directly wired system that controls power to each lock.

Integrating Fire Alarm Control Using Direct Wiring

The door access control reader and the electric lock can be wired to the fire alarm in a number of different ways. We can use a relay to drop power to the electric lock, or use an IP device that drops power using the network connection, or add a power control box that drops power when the fire alarm system detects a fire. The wiring used in these examples should conform to the fire codes. Here are the examples of how to control your access control system using direct wiring from the fire alarm control box.

Using a Relay to Control Power to Electric Lock

In this example, the fire alarm provides a ground signal to a relay that controls power to all the locks. In this configuration, the 12 VDC power to the lock originates from a central power supply. It can be used with a mag lock or a strike that is configured in “fail safe” mode.

Power control using relay fire alarm box
Power Control to the Electric Lock

The type of relay used depends on the total power distributed to all the locks. There are various configurations of this type of control. For example, the relay can also control power to one lock that is powered by the reader.

Connecting the Fire Alarm Using Power Over Ethernet

This power control method is designed for IP door readers. It uses the Altronix Entrada2DMK IP access control adapter kit. The kit includes two adapters, one is placed near the fire alarm box and the other near the IP door reader and electric lock.

Door Access and Fire Control with Altronix-PoE
Door Access and Fire Control Using Altronix-PoE

The device-side adapter provides power to the IP reader (using PoE) as well as to the electric lock. When a fire alarm signal is detected, the controlled power to the lock is removed. The adapter maintains power to the IP door reader. This system is very flexible so you can select normally open or normally closed trigger from the fire alarm box, and 12 VDC or 24VDC to the lock.  A dedicated network cable is required between the transmitter and receiver adapters. A number of receivers can be daisy chained to one of the receivers connected to the transmitter.

Controlling Access Readers Using a Power Supply Controller

Power to all the locks can be controlled through a power control box. The Altronix Power Controller AL125UL is an example of this type of power control. Other controllers include UPS battery backup.

Door Access and Fire Control with Altronix-Power
Door Access and Fire Control with Altronix Power Supply

The power controller includes relays that control the power that is supplied to all the locks. When the fire alarm unit provides a signal indicating an alarm condition, the power to all the electric locks is removed. When power is removed, all the electric locks should open. They must be wired so that they are in “Fail Safe” mode so that they open when power is lost.

Emergency Fire Release Using Software to Control Doors

One of the easiest fire control systems uses door access control software. Not all access control software will work. The software must be able to sense the alarm trigger, and then send a command to all the IP door readers, to “unlock.”

Reader Fire alarm control Using Software Control
Fire alarm integration Using Software Control

An example of software that can provide this function is TVIP-TIRSoft software. It has the option to detect and control all the IP door readers. The alarm trigger from the fire alarm panel is connected to the AUX input of one of the compatible IP readers. The professional door readers such as the TVIP-2R-Pro, or Pro Series biometric IP readers have this capability. Once the trigger is detected, the software commands all the IP readers to open all the doors. An alternative system uses different software and requires an additional IO type interface box (like the Adam6060). The alarm trigger is used to trigger the software to tell all the readers to open all the doors. Once the emergency is over, the doors can be reset to normal operation using the software.

A software solution is the easiest type of system to implement because only a single wire is required between the fire control box and the closest IP reader.

In general, this type of system can be used to open all the doors (in a fire) or close all the doors (emergency lockdown). The diagram above shows a button connected to one of the IP readers. In this emergency application, all the doors are locked to prevent entrance. Both applications can be programmed with the TVIP-TIRSoft solution.

Door Control When a Fire Alarm System is Not Installed

Some buildings may not have a fire alarm system. In this case, there are some things that can be done to assure that everyone exits safely. Usually, an electric strike does not require any special exit devices because you can turn the knob to exit. A magnetic lock requires special exit controls since it holds the door closed.

There are 3 ways to open the mag lock at each door.

  1. An exit button can be used and marked clearly with an EXIT sign. The button is connected to the REX input of the door reader and causes the reader to open the door.
  2. A motion detector can be added that detects when someone approaches the door. When a person is detected, it provides a contact signal to the reader. The signal can be connected to the AUX input (if available), or wired in parallel with the REX wire.
  3. Crash bars can be used that release the door lock when someone pushes against it. The crash bar and the electric lock bypass the reader to open the door.

There is one other way to add an emergency exit. It is possible to use a button connected to one of the IP readers. This is very similar to the software solution described above. A number of strategically placed buttons can be wired to IP readers. Any button that is detected would notify the software to release all the locks.


When the fire alarm detects a fire, the electric doors should all be opened to allow people to exit and the fire department to enter. The system connection rules depend on the local fire codes.  There are a number of ways to implement this safety system.  The electric locks can be wired to the fire panel, or software can be used to control the IP readers.

For help in selecting the right solution, please contact us at 800-431-1658 in the USA, or at 914-944-3425 everywhere else, or use our contact form.