Field Devices

Technical Assessments – Field Devices

Dana Frentz, CHPA, PSPSecurity Assessment, Security System Lifespan Management

In this second installment, we will be looking at field devices. This information comes from practices we have found when conducting a technical assessment.

Multiple hardware components make up a security system. The term “head-end” equipment often refers to the server-based computers, client monitoring stations, and security panels. The “head-end” hardware devices communicate with the “field devices” of a particular system. Field devices may include cameras, card readers, access panels, audible sirens, and door status switches. The collected data is transmitted back and forth over a network.

In a properly designed and maintained system, each part enhances the other. All contribute to effective protection of employees, visitors, and property while remaining compatible with the operational requirements and environmental conditions. As mentioned in the first installment of this series, many times the need for installation of new systems and equipment outpaces the ability to conduct the best follow up and to follow acceptable practices. Therefore, improper installation can defeat even the best security platforms.

The installation of field devices should be in accordance with local codes and the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). NFPA 731 also has, among other directives, requirements for the installation of security system field devices.

Camera Installation

unprotected wire
unprotected wire

When installing cameras, it is important to be mindful of the environment, mounting, and location. Cameras that are easily accessible or that are below the ceiling can be especially vulnerable to vandalism or accidental damage. Those that have exposed cabling allows for exposure to the elements in the environment as well as an additional point of failure.


Think of network cable or wire as a nerve in the human body. If there is a malfunction in the nerve between your brain and your hand, your hand will not function the way the brain tells it to. The same is true for security field devices and head-end equipment.

Good cable management is essential to supporting effective communication between field devices and head end equipment. Additionally, it creates a visually attractive and professional looking installation.

When planning the location of device placement plan for how to get the cable to the device.


Use of exposed cable/wire mold is sometimes the most efficient or only method for getting cable to the device. Preplan the device location, with the minimum number of joints possible. Secure all covers in place.

exposed wire

Properly fish cable in framework, assuring it is not accessible to tampering or damage.

Encase wire and cable in a non-conductive material or something that is resistant to an electric current. Provide protection over the wire and cable inside. Further protect exposed insulated wire or cable with rigid or flexible conduit, especially if it is accessible by the public.


Secure protective insulation in such a way that it is not easily separated from the fitting or the device.

conduit installation

Install conduit properly. Use the appropriate connectors for the installation environment.

Legacy Equipment

New equipment is often installed in locations that already has equipment in place. For example, this is seen at locations that have had different intrusion systems installed over the years or upgrades to camera systems. Remove legacy devices or devices that no longer function prior to installing new devices.

multiple field devices

For example, here are three door contacts. Do all three door contacts work? Are they for the intrusion system or the access control system?

multiple field devices

Are all five of these cameras functioning? Or did a pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) camera replace these four cameras?

How do you avoid these problems? If you find them in a technical assessment, how do you begin to address them? We’ll cover that in the next post.


Plan. Protect. Prosper.

Protus3 specializes in security system design, security consulting, corporate investigations and other investigative services. Partner with Protus3 and we will examine each situation to identify threats and develop solutions for your best outcome.

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