Jade’s fire business to rival alarm side

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Thursday, July 1, 2004

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - With interest in fire-related services growing, traditional alarm firm Jade Alarm Co. expects the fire-side of its business to increase from 20 percent to 50 percent within the next two years.

With the additional business, the company is expected to increase hiring in the areas of central station operators and technicians to perform inspections in the field.

“It’s growing,” says Jade President Joseph Pfefer, “and it goes back to providing proper service.” It also has to do with the code driven nature of the fire business.

The fire-related deaths at a nightclub in Rhode Island during the winter of 2003 was a wake-up call for people and law makers to examine how their own procedures stacked up to those in other states. “Because of that,” Pfefer said, “fire marshals have taken a lot stronger look at it.”

UL Certification has played a critical role in the upswing of fire systems, as well. Certification is an extra set of eyes for fire officials, as it ensures that systems are installed correctly as well continued assurances of proper operation, testing and monitoring. In addition, when certificates are cancelled, organizations such as the AHJ and local authorities are notified.

National concerns have also had an effect on business. Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the company has experienced a surge of interest in camera related services. More so, Pfefer said, than the previous 30 years combined.

Being the one of the last independent centrals in Kansas City, Pfefer has experienced a handful of similar companies who have either been scooped up by larger, national firms or gone belly up. About two years ago, a local central station company that specialized in monitoring fire systems one day shut its doors without warning. “They were just gone,” he recalls, and people started calling Jade because of its UL approval.

The company had no problem handling the extra business, but did proceed with caution. “There’s no such thing as a non-compliant fire alarm, because you’re the expert,” he says. The risk of working with a new customer with a pre-installed system includes an improperly and illegally installed alarm that could lead to legal problems in the event of a disaster. In the event of a bad system, Jade insists the customer pay to fix the problem.

Founded in 1969, Jade Alarm serves less than 10,000 customers and installs a range of systems.