Many security providers include commercial fire alarms with their security alarm systems, and for good reason. The two integrate well together, and it makes sense to install them both at the same time.
In fact, because both security and fire alarms protect your business from risk, many providers market them as a single system.
A Word of Caution
In the past we've suggested that business owners on a budget might consider a DIY (or “do-it-yourself”) approach to business security.
There is the potential for a lot of saving in installing and maintaining a security system on your own, assuming you're up for the investment of time the project will require.
However, we do not recommend this approach for fire alarm systems.
Why? For two reasons:
1) The worst case scenario if you install your CCTV cameras incorrectly is that a video feed might not work as expected. While inconvenient, that's not the end of the world.
However, if your fire alarm system isn't installed correctly, you, your employees and your customers could be at very real risk in the event of a fire. It's best to leave this one to the pros.
2) Your fire alarm system should meet any and all local, state and federal fire codes. A professional installer will almost certainly be more familiar with these requirements than you.
Like business security systems, there is no easy way to analyze costs for commercial fire alarm systems. In fact, the only way to compare costs will be to gather quotes from multiple providers.
We recommend that you use the same tips for fine-tuning your quote-gathering process that we suggested for business security systems.
To that list, add:
• Do your homework on local, state and federal fire codes for your type/size of business.
• When reviewing quotes and visiting with fire alarm contractors, ask how their proposed system meets all required specs. (It will cost a lot more to upgrade a system that fails to meet code than to install it right the first time.)
As you start gathering quotes, there's a good chance you'll see a fair amount of variance in projected costs.
This is a common experience for many business owners, and it has the potential to be confusing.
Why are some bids so much higher or lower than others?
There are several factors that contribute to this. While there may be local, state and federal codes that mandate specific levels of protection, that doesn't mean there's only one correct way to install a fire alarm system.
The type of alarms used, as well as the manner in which the system connects to itself and local emergency responders, can make a big difference.
Also, some contractors will provide quotes for systems that only meet the minimum requirements, while some will offer far more robust options, including features you may or may not need.
It's wise to ask each contractor about their experience in the industry and for referrals. More experienced contractors are often able to provide more accurate quotes, and may be more familiar with local, state and federal requirements.
Unfortunately, as much as we would like to be able to provide you with time-saving shortcuts and solid dollar figures (a standard system will cost X, for example), that's just not possible. There are too many variables to take into account.
Instead, we recommend that you schedule a block of time to thoroughly research the requirements for your business location(s), and don't rush the bid process. Most likely, this won't be a quick project.
But, given the nature of the protection these systems provide, the time needed to pick the right system is an investment worth making.
A solid commercial fire alarm is there to ensure the safety of you, your employees and your customers. You don't want to skimp when it comes to this.