Cleveland contractor says flexibility is key

'Parts and smarts' company Life Safety Systems works around quirks
Wednesday, August 1, 2007

CLEVELAND--Dan Klag, president of fire-detection installation firm Life Safety Systems, describes his business as a "parts and smarts" company, and this emphasis on design has helped him grow his company from "a briefcase and a cell phone" to five full-time and five part-time employees in just four years.
For example, he said, the flexibility of a Silent Knight fire system came in handy both during and after a project he designed for a new Staybridge Hotel here. In the design stage, Klag incorporated the Farenhyt IFP-1000 analog/addressable fire alarm control panel into a vertical riser fire system. And, after the system was installed, he was able to accommodate some last-minute changes and easily integrated additional components.
Klag acquired his design skillset while working for Johnson Controls, SimplexGrinnell and then for an electrical contractor before starting his own business. That experience helps him value the fact that all five full-time employees are certified to the highest level of NICET. This summer he plans to hire one more part-time and two more full-time employees. His work is concentrated here in northeastern Ohio, although he will cross the border to Michigan or Wisconsin for jobs occasionally.
Klag works with contractors, consultants, or less frequently an end-user, to spec out fire systems for projects. If that contractor or consultant wins the contract, union workers will do the actual installation, but the "after-market monitoring, inspection and maintenance of the project" is then turned over to Klag.
The Staybridge hotel is part of a large chain and "they're all built the same way, with pre-cast concrete prefab walls and ceilings." Because of the way the building was constructed, horizontal conduits for the fire system could not be used, but Klag helped design a fire system that would work with the vertical risers. "With our assistance in the design we were able to reduce the labor and material and electrical cost of the fire alarm and life safety system ... we saved them a chunk of change," Klag said.
During the installation, Staybridge decided to install more than the minimum required smoke detectors, and after the project was completed more smoke detectors needed to be added to a lobby area because some magnetic doors had been added.
Because of the capacity of the system and the way it was designed, these modifications were made "and it was done within a week," Klag said.