What is an “Alarm”?


The word Alarm is used in the pipeline business to mean may things. Historically, anything that was annunciated by light, animation, sound or other means has been considered an alarm.  Under the PHMSA Control Room Management rule, pipeline operators are required to put in place formal alarm management programs in order to assure that pipeline controllers have the ability to effectively address issues.  Key to implementing an effective program of alarm management is to clarify what constitutes an “Alarm”.  This question is not as easy to answer as it might appear.  Here are some definitions for your consideration.  What do you think?

Notification – Anything that is annunciated.

Alarm – Any notification that requires action or a bad outcome will occur.

Alert – Any notification that is not an alarm.

Next time we will discuss a bit more about the meaning of Alarm given your role, i.e., controller, field operator, SCADA support, etc.