Website keeps fire specs current

SureSpec serves as one-stop resource for vendor specs
Wednesday, October 1, 2003

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The general manager of a Notifier distributor here has developed a web resource that combines the product specifications of these manufacturers, and others, into a single spot on the web.

The website,, is designed to eliminate the mounds of paper catalogs, CD-ROMs and updates juggled by systems designers as they hunt for the most appropriate product and system for many different applications. Through SureSpec, a designer can also search by product type and name, model number and compare the systems of up to three manufacturers side by side.

At press time, SureSpec had 18 different manufacturers on board, said John Larkin, president of SureSpec, more than half of the estimated 30 fire systems manufacturers in the market.

The subscription based service, which is paid for by the fire alarm company users, has so far only garnered three registered users, but Larkin said he is hopeful that he can sign on at least a portion of the 375,000 firms that are registered as engineers or architects serving the construction and retrofit markets.

As a 12-year veteran of the fire and security industry, Larkin said he has repeatedly found a need for this type of service, both in the field and working with engineers. A recent seminar held for engineers offices found that the information the engineers were using for smoke heads was all outdated, he said.

When engineers and spec writers develop a project, “the fire alarm is the last thing they put together before the project goes to bid,” Larkin said. “I wanted to build a site to help them do their job better.”

A comprehensive resource like SureSpec will also alleviate confusion found when looking at the specs in the field, he said.

“For example, the specs might call for the system to be from Simplex, but then you read the specs and the part numbers are for a Siemens system,” he said.

One user, Fire Systems Design of Hurst, Texas, said the site is a worthwhile tool to have the most recent information at its fingertips. Because the company is a Notifier ESD, said Todd Burgart, director of marketing, the site won’t replace the information his company gets directly from Notifier.

“It is a great tool for when we get specs for a job that call for a competitive brand, we are able to view and see the proper comparative fit and be able to find the right product.”

John Hirschfelder, sales engineer at Northern Fire & Communications in Kalispell, Mont., another Notifier distributor, said he agreed.

“Nothing is apples to apples,” Hirschfelder said. “I want to make sure that I have a comparable product, not just close or not even close.”

The information from manufacturers is loaded onto the website in the pdf format delivered right from the manufacturer, unaltered. Email updates are sent out to registered subscribers when manufacturers have a part number update or another type of specification change, Larkin said.