An effective fire alarm system is a building’s first line of defense against fire. Having a fire alarm system is not only a necessity, but it is also a mandatory requirement for all localities. The primary purpose of a fire alarm system is to save lives and secondarily, property.
A fire alarm system does not prevent fire, but it ensures that there is protection for lives and property. So, yes a commercial fire alarm monitoring cost is a considerable but necessary investment for any building.
Fire Alarm System Average Cost
A fire alarm system price is composed of the costs for design, equipment, and installation. The equipment necessary for the system is composed of the initiating devices, notification appliances and suppressing devices.
The most basic fire alarm system would cost around $1 to $2 per square foot while the complex types would cost around $3 to $6 per square foot.
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Fire alarm installation in an apartment building ranges from $1,800 to $2,500 per unit but can easily go as high as $10,000 or more especially for commercial units as required by the building code or regulation of a particular location.
On the other hand, bigger office spaces, schools, and other more crowded facilities 5,000 sq. ft. or higher can cost up to $15,000 to $20,000 plus monthly dues for monitoring and coordination with the fire department.
As no two buildings are exactly alike as to design, use, and occupancy, a fire alarm system is also as unique as they are designed specifically for a particular building. The following are the estimated average costs for some components the system:
|Design (including permit)||$2,000.00 to $8,000.00|
|Control Panel (basic addressable)||$2,000.00 to $5,000.00|
|Initiating devices||$100.00 to $200.00/unit|
|Notification appliances||$100.00 to $200.00/unit|
|Suppression devices||$1.00 to $2.00 per square foot|
The fire alarm system installation costs are the labor costs to put the devices in place throughout the building. The number of devices, the complexity of the devices, as well as the layout of the building are all factors for installation costs.
Usually, the company that designs the system and procures the needed equipment will also install the devices to ensure full adaption of the design.
Here are some of what people have paid for:
|Construction firm / Massachusetts||4,500 sq.ft||Materials only||$3,400.00|
|Consultant / Hudson, Florida||1,000 sq.ft||Fire-Lite MS-10-UD, 10-sensor system i3 detectors, 2 batteries, 3 strobe/horn units||$1,068|
|Church, Wenatchee, Washington||5,000 sq.ft.+||materials and installation/service work||$3,200|
|Retailer, Snow Hill, Maryland||5,000 sq.ft.+||includes fire alarms, all units, common areas, security systems with separate control, billing, plan development and fire marshal coordination; installation, service||$5,700|
|Contractor, Seattle, Washington||5,000 sq.ft.+||All-in, complete fire protection services||$16,500|
|Education, New York, New York||5,000 sq.ft.+||All-in with all equipment required for the code and security system||$15,000 + $295.50 a month|
All-in service quotations from reputable fire alarm system installers would include materials and installation as well as the required permit as the basic part of the service. Monitoring will also be included depending on the type of alarm system installed.
The quantity and types of initiating devices, notification appliances, and suppression devices will depend on the design appropriate for the building.
An initiating device is the component of the system that provides the input while a notification appliance is the component of the system that informs the people in the building or nearby of the need to evacuate. Initiating devices can either be smoke detectors or manual pull stations while notification appliances can either be lights, horns, chimes, bells, speakers, or a combination of these.
The most common suppression device used is the water sprinkling system. A fire sprinkler system typically cost arounds $15000 to $100K to get installed. However, gas or chemicals can also be used to suppress fire depending on the type of operations of the building.
Other Costs to Consider
Other costs to consider are the following:
- Fire Alarm System Maintenance and Testing Costs
Even after the fire alarm system’s installation, work on it continues. The Fire Code mandates that regular testing should be conducted to ensure the effectiveness of the system. The price of non-maintenance and testing is the possible inefficiency of the system when there is an actual fire. Thus, maintenance and testing costs are periodic expenses which are necessary.
- Fire Alarm System Monitoring Costs
Once the fire is detected, a monitoring device sends a signal to an operator who then contacts the nearest Fire Department to inform them of the occurrence. The device is usually an analog phone line.
However, nowadays wireless phones meeting the requirements of the codes can also be used. Monitoring costs are the monthly costs for the maintenance of the communication devices. Fire alarm systems usually use two analog phones which can cost up to $1,800.00 annually while the wireless alternative costs only half of that.
A commercial fire alarm monitoring cost is considerable like any big-ticket purchases. Thus, it is better to get several quotations from reputable companies. It is also best that research is made to have a grasp of the system to be procured and installed.
In procuring the system, remember to ensure that the system follows all the requirements of standards and codes. It is costlier to re-do a non-fully compliant fire alarm system.
Fire Alarm System Cost Factors
- Size, Age, and Design of the Building
The fire alarm system for a smaller building would require simpler design and less equipment. Thus, it is less expensive than the fire alarm system for a bigger building. As for age, it is easier to install a fire alarm system in a new building than in an old building. An old building will have an existing fire alarm system that would require removal, which means more costs.
Also, the features of the old building may make it harder to install the new system. Buildings with more complex designs such as numerous rooms/partitions/levels will have a more expensive fire alarm system than that of a building with a simple design.
- Type of facility and code requirements
The cost of the project would also depend on the type of facility a structure is built for. Commercial spaces would be required rigid fire safety requirement as compared to residential structures.
- Future Plans for the Building
If there are plans to expand the building in the future, the fire alarm system to be put in place can make provisions for that. Having provisions for future building expansions is an added cost.
- Expanded Options
A fire alarm system can also be expanded to include a Containment System and a Ventilation System. A Containment System locks down the affected area to prevent the spread of fire to other areas. A Ventilation System, on the other hand, addresses the fumes in the affected area to ensure that people affected have time to evacuate the building.
- Type of Fire Alarm System
There are different types of fire alarm systems. It could either be manual or automatic depending on the initiating device. The system could be conventional, addressable or hybrid depending on the specification of the fire location. The system could also be either proprietary or open system as well as wireless or not.
The fire alarm system installation cost depends on the type of system in place.
- Existing wiring
The existence of old wirings that can still be used for a new fire system would definitely decrease the cost significantly. But it can definitely increase the cost if the existing wirings cannot be used anymore and removal of the same would entail added labor cost on the part of the contractor.
Each location has its own set of building regulations that residents and business owners need to follow. That’s aside from the cost of living and cost of doing business that affects the pricing of service companies.
What Else You Need to Know
It is necessary that the fire alarm system for the building is compliant with all the necessary codes of the locality. Having a non-compliant system is not only a waste of money, but it could also affect the building’s business permit.
Aside from the Fire Code, it is also best to consult the necessary provisions for Persons with Disabilities as well as Occupational Safety Codes. The many codes and standards to follow is the reason why there is a caveat on DIY-ing a commercial fire alarm system.
To further ensure the safety of the building, the fire alarm system put in place can also be integrated with the building’s security system. This way, the building’s over-all security against burglars and fire is integrated.
It is crucial that the fire alarm system should be custom-designed and built for the building. It is one cost not to scrimp on. A fire alarm system price may be costly but the benefit that it brings – to save lives and property – is worth the investment.