It’s not too expensive to install a fire alarm system a house . Clearly, this is a sufficient investment, making proper due diligence essential to protect the use of such funds. At the same time, the reason for installing a fire alarm system – to save lives and protect property should not be overlooked at the expense of placing either in jeopardy.
There are countless stories of companies that cut corners unwisely on fire alarm installations, only to pay a severe price when a loss occurs. Fortunately, there are ways to be cost-conscious without being irresponsible and putting your company in the crosshairs of the worst possible negative publicity. And that’s by simply doing your homework.
Here are five steps to take in planning a cost-effective fire alarm installation:
1. Make sure you have all the necessary building information.
It’s important to have accurate and up-to-date blueprints of floor plans of the building or facility available to understand what you can and can’t do. If your plan is to put the project out to bid to multiple electrical or alarm contractors, make sure someone knowledgeable reads the plans and explains certain aspects of the structure and the system design. Will you have to subdivide? What building occupation or standards will the system be measured by? Where will the control panel go? Do you have plans to expand the structure in the future? If so, the ability to easily expand or add on to the system in the future will be a consideration. You will find it will save you money (or is well worth the money) if you find a contractor that will agree to draw plans or design the system for a fee or future consideration, or you could contact an electrical or fire protection engineer to draw a plan and design the system.
You may also find the local fire authority may be helpful in this process by offering advice regarding local requirements and indicating how detailed your plan should be. Having a detailed plan will ensure that when you do get competitive price quotes for your fire alarm installation, all bidders will be fairly compared.
You should also be aware that a new fire alarm installation might require a review of your electrical system. For example, a common requirement is that the power for the fire-alarm system be on a dedicated circuit from a panel or electrical meter that the property owner is responsible for. You may have a panel like this if your property has exterior site or common area lighting that you, as the building owner, pay for directly. If not, you may have to update your electrical system, which you may choose to do at the same time as part of the fire alarm installation/upgrade project. This could substantially increase the overall project cost, so make sure it is considered in your planning process.
2. Understand the new technology.
Over the past 20 years or so, processor technology-based fire products have been introduced. Years ago, fire alarm systems consisted mostly of a handful of relays and lights indicating a zone or area of the building – where the fire emergency occurred. Systems like this still exist and are commonly referred to as conventional fire alarm systems. From an equipment perspective, this type of system is generally the least expensive. Now, digitally based panels and systems are available, both more common and affordable. Systems like this typically offer more detail, require less wiring and provide more flexibility. These systems are often referred to as addressable systems. Equipment for these systems is more expensive but can be easier to install in existing buildings, since less wiring may be required.
This system is becoming the most popular type. Wireless systems are available and may be appropriate, based on your system requirements. You can’t make an accurate assessment of what you need until you understand the equipment’s responsibilities. Make sure the contractor or your project specifications clearly state the exact products required. Find out if the proposed equipment is readily available and/or proprietary – only available from or through specific sources.
This will be important after the system is installed, since it may require service or parts in the future. If you choose a proprietary system, you may find it difficult or expensive to service or modify the system in the future or may be limited as to who can provide those services. Are all warranties clearly spelled out for the manufacturers’ equipment being proposed? The days of a fire alarm system being simply just a “box-on-a-wall” are long gone. Talk to people who are up on the latest product technology, or at the least, use the Internet to get the information you need and make your assessment of the proposed equipment.
3. Install the wireless home security panel.
Choose a place near your primary entry door and close to a power source to install the panel. Often, you’ll only need to hammer a small nail into the wall to “install” the panel. If you can’t put holes of any kind in the wall, you can use removable double sided adhesive.
4. Places sensors and detectors throughout your home.
Your system will include basic door and window alarm sensors, and may include motion detectors. The sensors usually come with a peel and stick backing that holds them into place yet allows them to be moved as needed. Use the guidelines provided with your home security system to place sensors in optimum locations.
5. Test the security system.
Follow the directions outlined in the security system owner’s manual to test the system and make sure everything is working properly.