If you’re looking to review your fire protection company, you’re ahead of the curve.
- Record Keeping
- Customer Service
But there are 400+ fire sprinkler system companies in New Jersey alone (and even more in New York).
Being proactive protects your employees and your property from fire damage. But with so many fire protection companies out there, how do you choose the one that’s best for you?
We made a comprehensive list of things to consider when choosing a fire protection contractor.
Here’s what you should have asked YOUR fire protection vendor—
1. What fire protection services do you offer?
The types of fire protection systems you need for your building may influence what type of vendor you choose. Some vendors only concentrate one or two types of services.
For example, some vendors perform portable fire extinguisher and kitchen system inspections. Other companies focus on sprinklers or fire alarms.
Does your vendor cover all of the fire protection services you need? If not, how will you cover any gaps?
Who does the work?
Make sure whichever fire protection services company you choose has the skills and knowledge to do the job.
Do they perform the work themselves or contract it out to other vendors?
There are only a few companies that can install, inspect, and repair all types of fire protection systems and do it well.
2. How much experience do you have?
When researching fire inspection companies, pay attention to how long they’ve been in business.
If you just need a quick inspection so you can sell your building, it may not matter much. But if you’re looking for a long-term partner, you may want to find out when the company was established.
Fire codes and technologies change, but longevity proves that a company can do good work.
Who are some of your clients?
You’d probably want to see references if you hired a contractor for your home. This is just good business. The principle applies here.
Any fire protection company that does good work should have a list of happy clients ready to vouch for them.
Here are a few questions you can ask—
- Who’s your best/favorite client?
- What was your biggest project ever?
- How long do most clients stay with you?
Bonus points if your prospective fire sprinkler company has done work for major facilities or corporations. That shows scale and reliability—all good signs.
Don’t be afraid to ask.
Are you active in NFPA, NAFED, and/or FSSA?
By being a member of these fire protection organizations, companies can keep up to date with the latest industry happenings.
Joining these groups doesn’t necessarily mean a fire system company is reputable or trustworthy. But it helps, especially if the company is active in the industry.
- Are they publishing literature on safety standards?
- Are they presenting at conferences?
- Do they offer training or educational resources?
It takes a lot of time, effort, and knowledge to become a leader in the fire safety industry. Looking for an established leader can be a shortcut to finding a reliable company.
3. What about pricing?
There are plenty of fire protection companies that provide low-cost inspections. Are you looking to “buy a tag”—just to keep the fire official happy—or do you want a thorough inspection to ensure that your employees and building are safe?
Costs matter, we get that. But have some perspective: fire safety is no joke. That’s why we have laws about it.
Any company that deals in the buy a tag realm is probably not worth working with. Buyer beware.
Fire System Costs
Fire protection system pricing can vary greatly, depending on a number of factors—
- Size of the building
- Age of the building (older & historic buildings can be more challenging to work in)
- Features and functions to be tested
- What is being protected
- Specialty system testing equipment
- Off-hour inspection requirements
In addition, be aware of add-on charges that are not part of the original price. When comparing vendor prices, be sure that you are comparing equivalent levels of service to avoid the inevitable additional charges that low bid vendors notoriously submit.
Ask your vendor if they charge any additional charges. For example—
- Fuel charge
- Trip charge
- Tag charges
- Charges for links, seals, pins, etc.
- Charges for testing equipment “rental”
- Charges per device
- Disposal fees
- Fees to access your inspection reports online
4. How’s your record keeping?
Not all fire protection companies are the same. How they track and store their records is a major difference.
Does your company use a paper work order to document their inspections? Or do they have an app-based inspection form?
Paper systems are great for data security, but they can be slow, prone to damage or loss, and errors. While digital systems have their challenges, secure online access and backups mitigate these issues.
We find that our clients are happy with our app-based system, because it makes their lives easier and it lets us provide service more smoothly.
Other questions about inspection reports
- How long do they keep a record of inspections?
- Can you access your inspection reports online 24/7 (i.e. when your insurance company, fire official, or compliance organization needs them)?
- How quickly will they provide you a final inspection report?
5. How’s your customer service?
Customer service, especially response time, is crucial in this business. One technician can only handle so many calls in a day.
Find out how many technicians your fire protection company has. That will give you an idea of how busy they are and how quickly they can respond to your call.
Small Fire Protection Companies
Some clients prefer to work with a smaller fire services company. Small companies are great—usually agile and eager to provide great service.
But they have potential weaknesses, too—
- Do they have technicians on call for emergencies 24/7/365?
- Do they have the resources to assist you and all their clients?
- Can they fix all issues/troubles themselves, or do they only offer inspections?
Large Fire Protection Companies
Large companies can be attractive for their own set of strengths, usually just the opposite of the small company concerns: lots of techs and resources.
But if you want a larger company, ask about these questions:
- Will you become just a number to them?
- How do they handle changes, if your facility grows or moves?
- Can you call the same person for all your fire protection needs?
- Do they have a local office, or are they managed from a remote office outside of your area?
In some cases, these companies make their margins on volume: low cost, high quantity contracts that keep money coming in. Be wary of multi-year contracts with no out clauses.
Regardless of company size, one rule has to hold true—
Make sure that, when you have a problem, you can call their phone number and talk to a real person immediately.
Want a review your Fire Protection company?
For too many businesses, their fire protection service provider is an afterthought. We understand it, but we also recognize the danger. Being proactive protects your employees and your property from fire damage.
We hope this list of considerations for your fire protection contractor inspires you to review your company. These questions are a good start for what to ask YOUR fire protection vendor.
If you want to talk with fire protection professionals about YOUR vendor’s service offerings, we’d love to talk. Give us a call or get in touch anytime. We’ll be happy to help.