United States Patent 3668682

An integrated nurse call, fire alarm and building door protection system embodies a central control box and panel at the nurse station having individual room indicator lights and a common buzzer, responsive to individual patient-actuated room switches. Corridor lights are also provided at the doors of individual rooms. The system also embodies building exit door switches which respond to the opening of an exit door to sound the buzzer, thus preventing patients and others entering or leaving the building unnoticed. The buzzer can be silenced by a nurse at the central control panel but the indicator lights must be extinguished in the patients' rooms and cannot be extinguished from the beds. The fire alarm system features plural zones, each having fire sensing means, a common alarm bell, indicator lights for the zones on the central control panel, and individual testing switches for the zones.

Barbee, Charles L. (Hawley, TX)
Williams, Harlan D. (Abilene, TX)
Stracener, James R. (Abilene, TX)
Application Number:
Publication Date:
Filing Date:
Texas Oil Electric Co. (Abilene, TX)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
340/286.05, 340/327
International Classes:
G08B5/36; G08B25/14; (IPC1-7): H04N7/00
Field of Search:
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Primary Examiner:
Pitts, Harold I.
1. A nurse call, exit door and zoned fire alarm system for nursing homes and the like comprising in combination a control box and visual display panel unit adapted for placement at a central nursing station, said display panel of the unit containing visual room numbers arranged consecutively, room number indicator lights on said unit behind said room numbers for illuminating the numbers selectively, room manual switches in reach of patients occupying the rooms and arranged remote from said unit, said room switches electrically coupled in parallel with said room number indicator lights in said unit by a first electrical cable leading into said unit, a room buzzer on said unit including a nurse operated override switch and being electrically coupled through said first electrical cable with said room manual switches, an automatic timer device on said unit coupled with said buzzer causing the buzzer to sound intermittently at the central nursing station in response to closing of any one of said room manual switches, plural building exit door switches arranged remote from said unit and electrically coupled with said buzzer in said unit through a second cable leading into said unit, a second nurse operated buzzer override switch on said unit connected in said second cable, plural fire zone indicator lights on said display panel of the unit, fire zone thermal detectors arranged remotely from said unit, a single fire alarm audible device common to said detectors in said unit and fire alarm relay means in said unit electrically connected with said fire alarm audible device and fire zone indicator lights, and a third electrical cable leading from said fire zone thermal detectors into said unit and being electrically

2. The structure of claim 1, and a plurality of corridor lights corresponding in number to said room number indicator lights and positioned adjacent individual patient rooms, said corridor lights electrically connected with said room manual switches and said room number

3. The structure of claim 2, and fire alarm circuit test switch means on said unit adjacent said fire zone indicator lights and electrically connected with said third electrical cable leading from said fire zone thermal detectors, whereby the alarm circuit for each fire zone may be independently tested at any time at said unit.


Much difficulty is experienced in hospitals and nursing homes with the proper response to calls for nurses by patients and also to matters of security. Various systems are employed, sometimes in a rather haphazard or makeshift manner, for calling nurses to the rooms of patients. Most frequently, each patient has in ready reach near the bed a push button switch which sounds a buzzer or lights a call light at some nursing station. There is usually no provision to keep the buzzer sounding periodically until the call is answered or to keep the indicator light on until the light is answered or to extinguish the light when the call is answered. Many calls from patients go unanswered and frequently time is wasted by making a second response to the patient's call.

Additional problems arise, particularly in nursing homes for the elderly, where such patients wander from their rooms and sometimes leave the building through various exits with no ready means for detecting this. Serious accidents can obviously result. An important feature of this invention is to incorporate within the central control panel at the nursing station an exit door detecting circuit which will cause the same buzzer employed in the nurse calling system to sound whenever an exit door is opened by a patient or someone else entering or leaving the building unnoticed. The buzzer will continue to sound in this instance until the exit door is closed. The system has particular application to side or rear entrance doors not ordinarily used by visitors and the main door of the building, which is frequently attended. This main door, if desired, may be isolated from the detection system.

A zoned fire alarm circuit is also incorporated in the protection system and includes on the main control panel at the nursing station zone indicator lights and individual test switches for the several fire zones so that these may be tested daily. A single alarm bell responds to a fire in any of the zones and will continue to sound until the temperature drops below a safe specified limit after which the fire alarm turns off automatically and resets itself. Temperature sensors are provided in each fire zone throughout the building. The entire protection system is unitized and integrated, is economical to install, and allows the attendant nurses to answer room calls efficiently while at the same time having a view of the fire zone indicator lights and being ready immediately to detect unauthorized exiting or entering through an unattended building door. The nurse can always silence the buzzer at the central control panel by means of exit door and room buzzer switches for this purpose, thus avoiding annoyance in some cases.

Other features and advantages of the invention will appear during the course of the following description.


FIG. 1 is a front elevational view of a central control box and indicator panel embodied in the invention and placed at the central nursing station.

FIG. 2 is a wiring schematic of the nurse call system and building door protection system embodied in the invention.

FIG. 3 is a similar wiring schematic of the zoned fire alarm system embodied in the invention.


Referring to the drawings in detail wherein like numerals designate like parts throughout, the numeral 10 designates individual parallel connected room switches in ready reach of patients in bed in the rooms. These switches may also be provided in bathrooms or other locations frequented by patients. Any number of the room switches 10 may be embodied in the system depending upon the size of the nursing home or hospital.

Connected in series with each room switch 10 is an indicator light 11 preferably arranged in the corridor immediately outside of and above the patients' doors. These indicator lights are in parallel with respect to one another and one light is provided in association with each room switch, as shown.

The central control box and panel at the main nursing station is indicated by the numeral 12. Behind a transparent panel 13 on this box, which panel bears sequentially the numbers of the individual rooms as at 14, additional indicator lights 15 are provided corresponding in number to the corridor lights 11 and electrically connected therewith by wiring 16, FIG. 2, forming part of the cable 17 in FIG. 1 leading into the control box from the room switches 10 and corridor lights 11. The indicator lights 15 are immediately rearwardly of the room numbers 14 so as to illuminate the numbers individually on the panel in response to a nurse call initiated by the patient closing one of the room switches 10.

Also within the control box 12 is a buzzer 18 common to all of the room switches 10 and a conventional timer 19 which causes the buzzer to sound for 2 seconds out of every 30 seconds intermittently whenever a room switch is closed. The timer switch 20 is electrically connected in series with the buzzer 18 and the timer is connected by a wire 21 to a terminal block 22 having connections with the wires 23 leading from the several room switches 10. The wires 23 are part of the cable 17 leading into the control box. Additional terminal blocks 24 and 25 are contained within the main control box and the block 24 has electrical terminals or connections for wires 26 leading from the indicator lights 11 in the corridors. The wires 26 are also elements of the cable 17. The terminal block 25 has connections for similar wires 27 leading from the several switches 10 as shown in FIG. 2 and for a wire 27' leading to the corresponding terminals of plural normally closed parallel connected exit door switches 28 on the various exit doors of the building. The number of these switches 28 may naturally vary depending upon the number of doors in a given nursing home or the like. These are outside exit doors as distinguished from the doors of patients' rooms. The opposing terminals of the switches 28 are connected by a wire 29 and a buzzer silencing switch 30 with a wire 31 leading to the buzzer 18. The wire 29 is connected at 32 to the wire 31 between the timer switch 20 and the buzzer. The silencing switch 30 is located near the bottom of the control box 12 below the panel 13 so that a nurse can always interrupt the action of the buzzer at the central station should one of the exit doors to the building be left open for a long period. If the switch 30 is closed, the opening of an exit door will sound the buzzer 18 and the re-closing of the door will stop the sounding of the buzzer.

The buzzer 18 is also connected with a wire 33 which leads back to a terminal 34 on the block 24 and has plural connections with the filaments of the panel indicator lights 15, as shown. Additional wires 35 and 36 lead from the terminal blocks 24 and 25 and connect with 24-volt power lines 37 and 38, respectively, the latter connected with the timer 19. A buzzer silencing switch 21' is connected in the wire 21, FIG. 2, between the terminal block 22 and the timer switch 20 and this switch 21' is located on the control box 12, as shown in FIG. 1 and is accessible to the nurses to silence the buzzer 18 after it is activated by closing any of the room switches 10. Thus, a nurse at the central nursing station can always override or silence the buzzer 18 whether the latter is activated by the patient room switches or the unauthorized opening of exit doors.

Referring to FIG. 3, the fire alarm means of the system compromises plural fire zone indicator lights 39 mounted behind the panel 13 so as to selectively illuminate fire zone numerals 40 on the panel indicative of fire zones throughout the building, which may vary in number depending upon the building. Each fire zone circuit, to be described, has its own individual testing switch 41 on the main control panel so that each circuit of the fire alarm system can be tested daily, if desired.

FIG. 3 depicts the circuit for one individual fire zone as designated by the indicia 40 in FIG. 1. The circuit is identical for each zone of the alarm system and it comprises any required number of thermal detectors or thermostats 42. One element 42 is ordinarily placed in each room of the particular zone at or near ceiling level. Any temperature in such room above the rated temperature of the sensor, such as above 135° F., will sound the fire alarm. Within the central control box 12 is a single alarm bell 43 common to all of the fire zones and sensors and this alarm bell is connected with one contact 44 of a 24-volt relay 45 which is a conventional fire alarm relay. Another contact 46 of this relay is connected through a wire 47 to the panel indicator light 39 for the particular fire zone. 24-volt power lines 48 and 49 lead respectively to the alarm bell 43 and to the contacts 50 of the relay as indicated in FIG. 3. The parallel connected sensors or thermostats 42 are connected with the line 49 by a wire 51 and are also connected by another wire 52 with a terminal 53 of the relay coil. The test switch 41 is connected across the wires 51 and 52 by other wires 54 and 55.


The patient in a particular room, bathroom or the like, may close any one of the switches 10 throughout the system to call a nurse. The switches 10 are preferably double-pole single-throw toggle switches equipped with pull cords which can be pulled from any angle for ease of operation by the feeble. When any switch 10 is closed, the indicator light 11 over the room door in the corridor is illuminated as well as the indicator light 15 corresponding to this room on the panel 13. Simultaneously, the buzzer 18 is activated. Once illuminated in this manner, the lights 11 and 15 can only be extinguished in the particular patient's room by the nurse making the call. No light turn-off switch is available on the control box 12 so that the nurse must respond to the call or the lights will remain on. The timer 19 will cause the buzzer 18 to sound intermittently approximately 2 seconds out of every 30 seconds until the call or calls are answered. However, the nurse at the central station may silence the buzzer by opening the switch 21', if need be. However, this does not extinguish the indicator lights.

In like manner, if any exit door of the building equipped with a switch 28 is opened, a circuit will be established through the buzzer 18 and the buzzer will sound continuously until the particular door is closed so as to reopen the switch 28 or until the nurse at the central control station uses the switch 30 to silence the buzzer. This arrangement prevents a patient from entering or leaving the building through some side exit without authorization.

As previously explained, a fire in any room of any fire zone will be detected by the element 42 and the alarm bell 43 will be sounded at the nursing station and also the number of the particular fire zone in the building will be illuminated on the panel 13. The nurse can instantly call the fire department and/or activate the main building alarm or alarm connected with the fire department. The fire alarm circuit for each zone may be tested by merely pressing the test switch 41 for that zone at the bottom of the panel 13.

It is apparent that the invention provides a complete and integrated system for nursing homes and hospitals embodying an efficient nurse call system, an exit door protection system, and a zoned fire alarm system. A single centrally located control station is provided for nurses and the only control exercised by the patient is for initially closing one of the call switches 10 in the rooms. The fire alarm is completely automatic. Other controls are at the disposal of the nurses on the centrally located control box with panel.

It may be noted that the third cable 56 entering the main control box in FIG. 1 is the cable made up of the wires 51 and 52 from the sensors 42 in the various rooms and in the several fire zones of the building. The cable 29 in FIG. 1 is also indicated in FIG. 2 associated with the exit door switches.

It is to be understood that the form of the invention herewith shown and described is to be taken as a preferred example of the same, and that various changes in the shape, size and arrangement of parts may be resorted to, without departing from the spirit of the invention or scope of the subjoined claims.