6 Helpful Hints on How to Choose the Right Fire Alarm Company

Fire Alarm Collection

Fire alarm systems are one of the most valuable components to any business or residence. We rely on them 24 hours a day, protecting our lives, inventory, and property. They are required by law for businesses and residences throughout the United States, and often they provide discounts on insurance rates.

By necessity, no two systems are the same. Each is custom-tailored and installed with specific fire & building codes in mind. Your Local Fire Marshall will always have last say on what is required and may demand more or fewer components than the actual fire code requires. We will try to point out below the 6 most important traits to look out for when you go shopping for a fire alarm company contractor. These suggestions are intended to help you save money, headaches, and lastly, not getting stuck with an inferior product.

1. Make and Model
- Find out what brand of fire alarm panels and equipment they are authorized to sell. Sometimes smaller alarm companies or electricians will just go down to a local distributor and purchase off the shelf components for the cheapest price available. Ideally, you want to find a fire alarm installing company that deals in volume. They will have selected a reputable manufacturer that provides quality products and easily serviceable components. Their volume purchases will reflect on pricing discounts that they are able to pass on to the consumer.

2. Licenses and Qualifications - Make sure the contractor has NICET certified designers & technicians that will be working on the project. The company should also have a license to work in your jurisdiction. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your authority having jurisdiction to see what type of experience they’ve had working with the contractor. Most importantly, get references of places where the contractor has performed fire alarm upgrades. Find out how other people would rate the company’s level of performance. This can help you to predict how satisfied you’ll be with your new or upgraded system.

 3. Proprietary Components - Some equipment manufacturers design systems that are not interchangeable with other manufacturers equipment. Fire alarm companies use these proprietary components because it may give them a financial advantage over their competitors. If you use a contractor that uses proprietary equipment you may be locked in for life on any system upgrades or service requests. Being locked into their “ecosystem” means they can now charge your whatever price they want because you will be unable to find another dealer that works on this hardware. Some of the better-known proprietary manufacturers are Simplex, ADT, Notifier, and Farenhyt.

4. Serviceability – Many times smaller fire alarm companies and electricians install fire alarm systems. They do not provide ongoing service, repairs, or warranty work. They simply are out to make the “quick buck” and move on to the next project. This leaves you vulnerable in the future because you may not be able to get the system repaired or upgraded. It is recommended you find a fire alarm dealer that has been in business no less than 7 years. Often they will also carry an inventory of parts in case your system requires servicing or repair.

5. Fire Alarm Monitoring – Most regulations require commercial accounts have a monitored fire alarm (Residential systems vary from jurisdiction). It is usually wise to find a local fire alarm contractor that also provides monitoring. They will have the proper monitoring equipment for the product line they carry. Companies that do not provide monitoring will have to farm out your monitoring service to a 3rd party dispatch center. In many cases, local providers may have their own fire radio network. Wireless (Radio) fire alarm transmissions are fast and economical. With radio alarm transmitters you do not need to purchase additional dedicated phone lines for the fire system. This can save you literally hundreds of dollars a year and thousands over its lifespan.

6. Pricing – While it may seem best to choose an alarm system from the “lowest bid” contractor, this strategy can come back to hurt you. Security vendors and Electricians often will put in a low bid in hopes of getting their “foot in the door” on the project. Often they will then charge exuberant rates for any additional work mandated by the Fire Marshall. Service repairs may also be charged at premium rates. Make sure all pricing and additional services are negotiated prior to hiring supplier.

The fire alarm industry strives to make you and all other parties (like Fire Marshalls and Insurance Carriers) pleased with your purchase. They also want to make sure everything works as intended in case of an actual emergency. If you take the above precautions and do your due diligence you should have no problem now or in the future with the installed system.

Now for your Bonus Hint – Make sure your system is annually inspected. Certified inspectors will test components, replace batteries, and visually inspect the overall condition. You want to make sure the system is healthy and will work in case of an actual fire AND in the United States, it is the law for commercial establishments!