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What to Know Before Buying a Fire Alarm System

A fire alarm system is one of the most important security features of any building—they are quite literally life- and structure-saving systems.

Whether you’re overseeing construction on a high-rise apartment building or you just set up shop in a new retail space, when you need a commercial fire alarm system, the only real option is to turn to a professional installer. 

But what should you expect when you pick up the phone and dial-up a pro? After all, no two fire alarm systems are the same. A fire alarm system for a high-rise apartment differs from one designed for a retail space or a school campus.

That’s why a truly professional, trustworthy fire alarm system company will work to get to know your wants, needs, and expectations. They should ask a lot of questions before ever starting the installation.

Below are four things you should understand inside and out about your requirements for a fire alarm system before you call a fire alarm installer, so you can better explain what you need and get the best possible results.

1. What building type do you need a fire alarm system for?

You should expect to get asked a few questions about the type of building—the purpose for which the building was built, what kinds  of operations are carried out within the building, etc.—that you need a fire alarm system for. The answer to this question will help your installer understand your needs.

On the local, state, and federal level, fire code is determined by building and occupancy type.  Your fire alarm installer should be familiar with the fire codes that pertain to you, but knowing your building type can certainly help if they need to review the code in order to design the most appropriate system.

2. What’s your budget for a fire alarm?

Truth be told, there’s not a lot of flexibility in the price of a fire alarm system. When it comes to fire alarms for commercial applications, the cost is somewhat fixed. You will have to purchase the systems and components required by the fire codes that pertain to your building and business type. The cost of equipment and devices will remain similar, regardless of the fire alarm company that you hire. 

Expect to pay your installer for preparing the installation plan, acquiring permits, and for equipment and labor. 

While the cost is largely fixed, the value of a fire alarm system can differ from one company to the next.

Some fire alarm installation companies offer additional system features that allow you to check the status of your alarm system and receive alerts on your phone or computer if an alarm triggers. System monitoring from a smartphone or computer is especially great for business owners and managers. You can check in on your system at any time, from anywhere, and know if an emergency does occur with immediate notifications. 

There are also ongoing services that you may want to take advantage of that only select companies offer. 24/7 professional live alarm monitoring is one such service. With live alarm monitoring, you don’t have to worry about emergencies when you are not physically present at your business. If a fire alarm is triggered, alarm monitoring agents will receive the alert and can contact emergency services. Even if it’s the middle of the night or first thing in the morning, live alarm monitoring keeps your business safe. 

Also, if you’re in the market for more than one security system or type of system, you might be able to save some money by sticking with one security vendor for all your needs. It is likely that they can bundle multiple system installations together, so if you need a fire alarm system, burglar alarm, and security cameras, purchasing these systems from a single security provider is a cost effective choice.

The basic cost of a commercial fire alarm system should not vary by much. But some fire alarm system companies—like here at Bay Alarm—offer additional features and services that can make your investment more worthwhile. 

3. What’s the deadline for installing the fire protection system?

You might need a fire alarm system installed right now, since you probably can’t finish a construction project or operate your business without one. Or maybe you’re making some calls ahead of time and won’t need the system installed and up and running for a few months. In either case, it’s always good to discuss when you want the system installed and what the fire alarm company’s estimated timeline is. 

As mentioned, the installation timeline really comes into play if you are in the middle of a construction project. If you don’t hit certain deadlines, the project may be pushed back entirely, which can potentially cost you a lot of money. When it comes to the actual installation, be sure to talk about your deadlines, so your project can move forward without any delays. 

4. Do you have architectural drawings or diagrams of the building?

If you’re a contractor, one of the best ways to expedite the fire alarm installation process is by providing  the installer with detailed construction drawings. 

As construction projects become more extensive , fire alarm installations become more complex. Just think about the complexity of a system needed for a small strip mall unit versus, say, a 25,000 square foot retail space. It can be a real challenge to plan for that. Things will move a lot quicker if your installer has access to construction drawings, which they can use to plan the installation. 

If you need a commercial fire alarm system, you can’t head over to the local hardware store and buy some devices off the shelf. The only way to get a code-compliant system that actually alerts you to smoke and fire is by calling a professional fire alarm system installer. If you can describe your building type, budget, and deadlines and provide them with construction drawings, you will find and hire the right installer who can meet your exacting needs!

Do you need a commercial security system? Contact Bay Alarm! We can design and install a code-compliant security system. And we offer 24/7 live alarm monitoring, so you can always rely on us to take action if an alarm ever goes off. Contact us today!