In a conventional fire alarm system, a zone is usually defined as an area which is served by a single initiating device circuit that typically contains multiple detectors. In a fiber optic based system such as the FiberSystem 8000, a single length of sensor can be partitioned into different segments or “zones” as desired based upon the specific hazard. Zones are defined in system software making it easy to customize zone-specific outputs and even overlap them thereby increasing system control capabilities.