Fire systems companies find rhythm

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Friday, October 1, 2004

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - For two companies based in the Birmingham market, how you approach new fire systems installation contracts can be somewhat different and entirely the same.

The owners of Harris Security Systems and Security and Fire Equipment Co. have approached the fire systems installation market by identifying the obvious - it’s a code driven industry that has as many contracts as you are willing to seek out and customers are willing to add on fire applications when other types of security systems are being installed.

Kristi Harris, vice president at Birmingham-based monitoring station ESC Central, finds demand for monitored fire systems up this year. Harris said dealers that work with the central have pushed fire systems more aggressively since the market for burglar alarms is heavily saturated.

Beyond monitored burglar alarms, “there is primarily more of a market” for fire systems as well as access control and CCTV, explained Harris.

“We’re doing a lot of fire alarms,” said George Harris, who is not related to Kristi. Harris, who owns Ozark, Ala.-based Harris Security Systems, started bidding heavily on fire systems about two years ago. Even though he had done fire work for the past 10 years, it was not until recently that he went after as many fire bids as possible within a 50 to 100 mile-radius from his shop.

According to Rick Jordan, co-owner of Northport, Ala.-based Security and Fire Equipment Co. new building construction and updated codes are two reasons why fire systems are in high demand. Jordan uses ESC Central for its monitoring service.

Additionally, another reason for the spike is that monitored fire systems in particular are now widely required to prevent excessive water damage, said Jordan. “If nobody can hear (an alarm go off), there’s a possibility of 200 gallons of water a minute all night and all weekend,” he said.

Additionally, Security and Fire Equipment Co. attains certain fire jobs when NICET certification is warranted. Jordan holds a level-two credential from the organization. Security and Fire Equipment Co. installs fire systems that feature horn strobes, pull stations and smoke detectors.

“I’ve seen dealers focus more on fire,” said Harris. “At the rate they’ve been putting it on is good for me.” She declined to disclose how many accounts the central monitors or related figures.