American Alarms Blog

Des Moines is becoming the "no coast" tech hub

by Adam Jacobs 7/5/2019

The Des Moines Partnership just published a great article about WHY Des Moines is growing faster than almost anywhere else, when it comes to tech companies and workers in these fields.  As a business owner that relies on other businesses, and workers that understand technology, I have enjoyed seeing this growth in the Des Moines area.  Here's a link to article, in case you didn't catch it.

 

https://www.dsmpartnership.com/news-media/blog/3-reasons-dsm-usa-is-a-tech-hub

 

If you look for it, you can find something local for all of your technology needs.

| To the top |

Fire Alarm Integrations and Special Applications

by Adam Jacobs 7/3/2019

Do you have a special application fire alarm project?  Most alarm companies can handle the simple system designs - retail store, small apartment building, small office building, etc.  But how about these integrations/applications:

Elevator primary/secondary recall

Smoke dampers

Elevator shaft smoke hatch with manual release

Explosion-proof devices

Hazardous area devices

Mass notification requirements

High-candela visual notification (hearing impaired)

Text/email secondary notification

HVAC control integration

Exhaust fan startup

Temp/water sensor integration (sprinkler monitoring)

Fire pump function monitoring

High-rise notification zoning

Smoke control panel integration

Large area/outdoor notification

Multi-building campus fiber-optic network

Access control integrations

Special hazard/agent releasing integrations

 

Now some of those sound like CIA mission names, but they are all part of fire alarm system design that we've encountered and designed over the years (almost 36).

 

When you need help with a special application, give us a call and make sure it gets designed correctly.

| To the top |

Emerging Leaders Training

by Adam Jacobs 7/1/2019

Associated Builders and Contractors of Iowa recently started a great training for current and future leaders of their members companies.  Our office manager and HR director Jackie Manning participated in the first series of training classes and found it to be very valuable.  Mark Shearman is currently going through the sessions, as our technical manager and supervisor for field technicians.  There is one session each quarter, so the participants can apply what they learn before adding more skills at the next session.  Thanks, ABC of Iowa, for this incredible opportunity to learn leadership with others that truly care about the industry!

 

See Jackie's leader group here: https://www.abciowa.org/Continuing-Education/Merit-Shop-Emerging-Leaders 

| To the top |

National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week

by Adam Jacobs 4/17/2019

When we think of safety, it's easy to think of the firefighters, police officers, and EMS personnel that respond to emergencies every day.  But don't forget about all the other people that work to get those first-responders to the scene of an emergency quickly and safely.

Please take the time to thank 9-1-1 telecommunicators, communications staff trainers, supervisors and managers of communications centers, those that that maintain radio and emergency phone systems, and other public safety telecommunications staff across the country who work hard every day serving the public.

 

Thank you all!

| To the top |

Recycle all of it (almost)

by Adam Jacobs 3/21/2019

At American Alarms, we do our part to reduce the amount of waste we put out into the world.  Here are just a few of the items we re-purpose or recycle:

- Batteries

- Wire and cable

- Circuit boards

- Old CCTV monitors (even CRT)

- Obsolete alarm parts (when a customer upgrades)

- Obsolete CCTV cameras (when a customer upgrades)

- Miscellaneous electronic components

- Office computers

- Office paper and plastics

 

Do YOUR part by making sure the companies you hire are doing their part!

 

 

 

| To the top |

Fire Alarm in Building Wasn't Working When Firefighters Arrived

by Adam Jacobs 3/20/2019

I just read a story of a fire in a Denton, TX apartment building.  The residents were evacuated in the middle of the night, taking what few belongings they could carry.  The firefighters were still cutting into walls to make sure the fire was completely out.  The apartment management company did not do much to help the residents, but local schools and the Red Cross help many families.  The thing that really stuck out, though, was they mentioned the building has a fire alarm system.  It didn't alarm.  It had been (supposedly) inspected, tested, and tagged less than a year earlier.  So what happened?  Did the fire alarm contractor actually do a functional test of all the devices?  Or did they just do a "drive-by" inspection and stick a tag on the panel?  Now the residents and the building owner are in a big predicament.

Are you just paying for a tag so you don't get harassed by the city, or is your system REALLY tested every year?

Does your insurance company pay for fire damage when the fire alarm doesn't work the way it should?

Is it worth saving a few bucks on the inspections each year to put lives in danger and risk a denied insurance claim?

 

Make sure your alarm contractor does a full functional test of your system.  Watch them do it some time.  

Or you can call us.  We will never skimp on safety.

 

| To the top |

What does it mean to have your alarms monitored?

by Adam Jacobs 3/18/2019

There are literally hundreds of central stations that receive alarm signals in our country.  So what sets them apart?  How do you know yours has what it takes when it really matters?  The Monitoring Association (TMA) is the oldest and most reputable gauge of central station overall performance and customer satisfaction in the industry.

How many times has your central station won TMA's Central Station of the Year?  Ours won last year.

Does your central station have multiple locations hundreds of miles apart, so that weather cannot affect BOTH stations at once?  Ours does.

Does your central station have dual backup servers, generators, and an emergency recovery plan?  Ours does.

If you have fire alarms, does your central station truly understand the difference between fire and burglar alarms?  Many don't, but ours does.

Do you wait for 10, 15, 20 minutes or more just to talk with an operator?  You'll never wait more than a minute or two when calling ours.

Does your station have customer web applications and smart phone apps if that's what you choose?  Ours does.

Do you have the option to NOT get awakened in the middle of the night for trouble and supervisory signals?  Ours does.

 

We spent over a year to figure out exactly what we would want in a central station.  We are confident that our central station does the best job of any in the industry.

Come experience what REAL customer service and professional alarm monitoring feels like!

 

| To the top |

Urbandale Requires Fire Alarm in Apartments

by Adam Jacobs 2/27/2019

If you own or manage an apartment building with 16 or more units, you've probably received the letter.  It was actually sent back on June 9, 2015.  It gives owners/managers 5 years to bring their buildings up to compliance with this letter.  These are only a portion of the requirements in a similar building constructed today, but it still could be a significant cost.  Installing anything AFTER construction is complete is more expensive.  But there are options to get a building into compliance, with minimal impact on residents and your budget.  This letter is really a "step in the right direction" rather than a full-blown all-in fire alarm system.  A pull station here, a horn/strobe there, not much really.  But better than having NO building notification in the event of fire.  These systems are also required to be remotely monitored at a UL-listed central station that will relay a dispatch call to Urbandale Fire Department when a general alarm is activated.  We are getting a lot more calls now, because it's nearing the first deadline - June 9, 2019 - when all letter recipients need to have a formal system plan in to Urbandale for review.  The system, if approved, will need to be installed and inspected by Urbandale FD by June 9, 2020.  There are a few other requirements not related to fire alarm in the letter, so if your didn't get one and you think you may fall under these new requirements, contact Urbandale Fire Department and talk to them.  Call American Alarms for a site survey and estimate on fire alarm to meet the new requirements.  Don't wait until June 8th to call.

| To the top |

Occupational Licensing - Alarm Contractors

by Adam Jacobs 2/13/2019

In the 1950's only 5% of workers in America needed a license to do their job.  Today it's estimated that 19% of all workers in the U.S. need an occupational license.  Workers who install, program, test/inspect, and service fire alarm systems are in that 19%.  For at least the last 10 years, the Iowa Department of Public Safety, State Fire Marshal's Division, has required anyone wanting to work on fire alarm systems to get a license first.  Here are the different levels (endorsements) of licensing required for fire alarm in Iowa:

#1 = Fire alarm system contractor or installer (all-inclusive, 2-7 not needed)

Allows the license holder to do anything related to fire alarm systems - install, test/inspect, service, and program.

#2 = Nurse call systems only

#3 = Security alarms only

#4 = Alarm system maintenance/inspection only

#5 = Dwelling unit alarm system only (Residential)

#6 = Alarm system component installer only

Allows license holder to hang devices, but not to program or test the system.

#7 = Alarm system assistant (must be supervised by #1 license holder)

 

In order to get each of these licenses, you need to be pre-certified using an approved training/testing course:

NICET II Fire Alarm Systems or ESA Certified Alarm Tech 2 = #1 State License

NICET I Fire Alarm Systems or ESA Certified Alarm Tech 1 = #2-#7 only

 

In addition to certification, before getting the Iowa license, we must also go through a complete criminal background check including fingerprinting.

To make sure you get a qualified alarm technician, ask to see the technician's State of Iowa license.  They should have a card with the state seal and a list of endorsements.  If their endorsements don't match what they have come to do for you, question them (or flog them) rigorously.  The state fire marshal doesn't have time to run around and check everyone's license, but you should.  Your safety and that of your co-workers, customers, and visitors are in their hands.  

| To the top |

Thank you veterans!

by Adam Jacobs 11/12/2018

Here at American Alarms we don't take Veterans Day lightly.  Our founder (my father), Bill Jacobs, is a Vietnam War veteran.  The name he chose for the company was partly because of the great honor and respect he has for this country.  My mother's father served in the Navy in the Korean War.  My mom used to say he spoke fluent Japanese in his sleep sometimes.  My father's father served in the Army in WWII and received multiple purple hearts for battles in Europe.  The rest of our staff has a number of friends and relatives that served in the military, too.  We are thankful for all of them that served and returned to us, and especially those that made the ultimate sacrifice.  Thank you for contributing to the freedoms we enjoy every day (and usually take for granted).  Thank you for your strength and courage.

| To the top |

Copyright © 2016 · American Alarms, division of American Electrical Sales Corp. All Rights Reserved.

Powered by Genesis Core 2.1.1.1 | Des Moines Iowa Web Design by Wolf Creek Technology

Click for the BBB Business Review of this Fire & Smoke Alarm Systems in Des Moines IA