Commercial basic Alarm Training 1
Hire a company with people you trust and be careful when you hire low bidders because often those are the companies that have left important pieces of equipment out of the project so they need to look for ways to cut costs after they begin the project.
General Contractors are incredible and they know allot about allot of things. If you are a General Contractor or an Electrical Contractor that has hired an alarm contractor as a sub take time to meet one on one with your alarm contractors to go over anything they might be concerned about. Just going by the documents works although taking time to go over details ahead of time avoids conflict and issues that can come up months later.
If you are an owner talk with your General Contractor and with their help you may want to set up a meeting with your electrical contractor and alarm contractor to go over items. The specifications and plans are there for a reason and following them works well, I am not suggesting a meeting be set up in order for the alarm contractor to try to bypass the General or the Electrical but to meet together and go over items that the owner may not have thought about such as the badge printer that often gets left out.
When an owner tries to act as his or her own General Contractor sometimes it works and other times it goes horribly wrong because General Contractors are very good at what they do and trying to save money by bypassing that step can get you in trouble because a GC has lots of experience and they know how to do their jobs so work in conjunction with your General Contractor and at least take time to meet the other contractors on your job site and ask some questions always in the presence of your GC.
Do a bit of research in each of the fields for your project such as access control, intrusion, camera systems, intercom systems and fire alarm systems. Trust the experts that you hire although knowing more about the systems will help you as you navigate the documents and throughout the construction phases.
Bring the alarm company into your office and sit down with them to go over the plans and specifications. Ask their estimator if she or he has any concerns with how the specifications were written and to explain those concerns. Once the estimator goes over those concerns walk through the plans with them to discuss how each of the systems will function and ask them for their take on how the engineer designed the system.
Ask questions, taking time to interact with someone that understands the systems will give you an edge and will help you avoid issues later on. Often what happens is those issues don’t come to light until later because they may not have been in the specifications or the plans so they will end up being change orders.
One example is a badge printer and the software for the printer. A basic printer may not print on both sides of the cards or it may be limited or an economy printer. If this was not in the bid you may end up paying more for it as a change order than you would in the bid process.
Another example is finding out about the costs of tests and inspection and monitoring before hand so you can weigh your options. Often it will cost less for you to pay for the tests and inspections monthly rather than once a year.
When it comes to monitoring many companies will see that normal fire alarm analog phone line monitoring costs roughly $30 per month and High Supervision Cellular monitoring is around $50 per month so naturally they will go with the least expensive option without finding out how much the company is paying for 2 analog phone lines required for the fire alarm panel. Often the analog lines cost around $35 to $50 each analog line so your monitoring can end up costing you over $125 per month going with analog phone line monitoring when if you go with the High Supervision cellular option at $50 you will pay less than half the cost.
Locks are also something you might want to learn a bit about. If you have electronic strikes installed they have moving parts that will wear out in a few years and they will need to be replaced. It is true that often electronic strikes do not require request to exit motion detectors or buttons in most cases and they do allow free egress so the fire marshal will like them. Maglocks do not have moving parts so often they will last longer than strikes although they do require that they be tied into the fire alarm system for door release and they require a request to exit motion and sometimes a button as well. I should not say that strikes do not have to be tied into the fire alarm because some fire marshals want the outside doors to release so fire man can enter the building during an alarm. Electronic locks can be fail safe or fail secure meaning if they are fail safe and the power goes out the lock release. Fail secure means if the power fails the door stays locked. There are different brands of maglocks and strikes with different quality aspects and price. One example is Vonduprin locks and they are very high quality, a HES strike will cost less. HES strikes are good quality although there are differences in different brands and models of equipment.
You can purchase a motion detector that is $25 dollars although personally I try to avoid selling them because I prefer to upgrade to a Tritech Bosch motion that will false alarm less than the normal PIR motion. You can try to do value engineering and cut prices when you design the commercial alarm systems but understand that often there is a cost when you do so and the cost ends up costing you in the long run.
I will post these types of training blogs periodically and I appreciate feedback, suggestions, corrections and what you like and don’t like about it. Call me at (801) 428 1384 or email me at Larry@peakalarm.com