What Should I Look for in a Fire Alarm Contractor?

By Traci L. Velez, Senior Consultant and Fire Alarm System Designer  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: What Are the Code Requirements for a Fire Alarm System In My Building?Pt. 2: This PagePt. 3: Why Do Fire Alarm Bids Vary So Much?Pt. 4: What Do I Do With an Old Fire Alarm System?Pt. 5: Repair or Replace The Fire Alarm Sytem?Pt. 6: Can My Fire Alarm Be Upgraded?Pt. 7: Showcase: Fire Safety

What questions should I ask the fire alarm contractors? Look for fire alarm contractors certified by the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET) in fire alarm systems and request copies of certifications. NICET certification is the industry’s method of verifying an individual’s experience, level of proficiency and knowledge of fire alarm codes for installation of fire alarm systems.

Ask how long the fire alarm contractor has been in business and how many technicians it has working in the area. This will give you an idea if they will be around to finish the project and their ability to follow up after the installation for any warranty work. Typically the fire alarm contractor is an electrical contractor or an equipment supplier. Ask electrical contractors about preferred equipment suppliers. Ask the equipment suppliers if they install their own systems or if they have preferred electrical contractors. When contractors are able to work with preferred partners, the projects will move forward with fewer delays, misunderstandings, and costly change orders. Ask the equipment supplier how many projects like yours it has completed in the area and request references. Also ask the contractors about their expectations for additional charges for the project.

If possible, visit the buildings given as references. Ask the building management and facilities engineers how they feel about their fire alarm system and about what problems they experienced during construction, if any. Ask how the contractors resolved the problems. Ask about charges that may have been added to the project during construction, and if they felt the change orders were fair or legitimate extras.

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  posted on 1/1/2009   Article Use Policy

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