Firm completes largest project to date

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Friday, July 1, 2005

SCHENECTADY, N.Y.--Fire systems provider Alarm & Suppression entered into the final stages of its largest project to date in May--a tedious retrofit within a corporate building that required both old and new systems to be up and running, and technicians to log overnight hours.
The project was located in a six-story office building, which is home to Empire BlueCross. Alarm & Suppression, which counts more than 50 percent of its business in the fire systems market, was called in to upgrade the building's current system.
"We removed the existing fire alarm system that was roughly 20 years old," said Frank Clair, president and owner of the company, "and installed a brand new Notifier addressable system."
Clair said the project, which the firm started in late October, required the fire systems, both the new and the old, to be up and running at all times. Another challenge was that the owner of the building asked that all the work be completed during the evening hours, when the insurance company's employees were away from the office.
"That was the criteria the owners wanted," Clair said. "And they also specified no false alarms. This is a building that houses a few thousand people and they wanted no evacuations. We were very, very careful."
To make sure the system produced no false calls, technicians, who worked from 5:30 p.m. to 6 a.m., thoroughly cleaned and tested the old smoke detectors in the building and replaced one area at a time with the new addressable system.
Now, the company is finalizing details on the project, such as labeling each signal device, and providing the owners with a plan of the system.
Even though Alarm & Suppression, which was started in 1994 when Clair and a partner, Bill Copeland purchased Albany Fire Alarm & Suppression, is in the final stages of finishing the company's largest contract, Clair said business in the area has been diminishing as of late due to lower than normal new construction rates. But Clair, who estimated new construction to be down as much as 60 percent, said the company has secured a busy future by cultivating relationships with local contractors, building owners, architects and engineers.
The company also provides access control, CCTV, security, clock and intercom systems, although it is currently a small portion of the business in relation to fire. Clair said relaying the message that the company can be a full-service firm will also help keep it busy during slow business times.
"People call on us often because of the reputation we've garnered in the market," he said. "That keeps us consistently busy."