American Alarms Blog

Mircom Technologies - Unified Solution for Property Managers

by Adam Jacobs 7/12/2015

Mircom Technologies now offers an unmatched suite of security and communication products for apartment buildings, condos, hotels, and other multi-tenant buildings.  Imagine having card access, visitor entry, cameras, fire alarm, and other systems managed from ONE web-based software.  Since Mircom makes all of these products (in North America) they are the leader in the integration of these systems.  Here is a link to their website for more info, and some short videos on how it all works:


Call American Alarms for information on how these products can help you.


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July Sale on Wireless Fire Alarm

by Adam Jacobs 7/11/2015

CWSI, who makes the most reliable wireless fire alarm systems anywhere, announced a sale on all initiating devices.  This includes pull stations, smoke detectors (with or without sounder), heat detectors, and carbon monoxide detectors.  These are not old models or used devices, all devices are current model and brand new in the box.  Because of this sale, American Alarms is offering 15% - 30% off your new wireless system (depending on exact design).  This is ONLY for the month of July.  If you're close to a decision on your new wireless system, and you can get us your order by July 31st, you can save up to 30% off the total.

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Building Automation and Fire Alarms

by Adam Jacobs 5/5/2015

What if you could have the ability to network many or all of your building systems onto one network?  What if your HVAC systems talked to your fire alarm system and your access control system?  Well, this is possible.  BACnet, which is short for Building Automation and Control Network, allows communication between different types of systems on the same network.   To see an overview of how it works, click here:


For a complete list of vendors that use BACnet, go here:



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Hotel Fire Alarm Upgrade with Zero Downtime

by Adam Jacobs 3/28/2015

I just finished estimating a new wireless fire alarm system for a 66 room hotel, when it hit me.  We'll be able to make this system change with ZERO downtime on the fire alarm system.  In an existing building, with an existing system, the downtime is always a big concern.  Changing over from a hard-wired system, there is no way to do this with a new hard-wired system.  But with our wireless system from CWSI, we can do just that.  If you want an upgrade with no lost room rents, check out the CWSI wireless fire alarm systems.

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Work that doesn't feel like work.

by Adam Jacobs 1/12/2015

The fire alarm industry is growing.  How is it growing?

- New technology to improve response time for fire departments

- Improved fire codes being implemented

- Better understanding of codes and systems by local officials and inspectors

- Improved monitoring technology and policies

- Stricter requirements for system designers, installers, programmers, and inspectors


We get to solve challenges every day.  Every day is different.  We're never bored.


Join us.  Go to the CAREERS page.

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Saving Copper with Wireless Fire Alarm

by Adam Jacobs 1/3/2015

When comparing fire alarm systems, we consider lots of different aspects.  But have you ever considered what just the copper wire of the SLC (data) circuit costs?  In a system with 1000 initiating devices, at an average of 20 feet per device, the 18/2 FPL cable total is 20,000 feet.  The cost of that cable is approximately $85.00/thousand feet, at a wholesale level.  So just in the SLC wiring, a wireless system could save $1700.  Not to mention the countless hours it takes to pull in all that cable.  On the sustainability front, we would also save over 100 pounds of wire that will eventually be replaced with wireless anyway!

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Authority Having Jurisdiction

by Adam Jacobs 11/18/2014
We sometimes get Frown from GCs and owners when we have to add devices because the AHJ sees the requirements a little different than we do.  

We sometimes also get direction from the AHJ at the beginning of the project and then they change their mind.

Whatever the case, the owner and GC need to understand that no matter what we do, we don't control the ultimate design of the system.  We will do our best, but the authority lies with the AHJ (that's why they call them that).

For almost two years, I've included the statement below on all quotes, as fair warning to our customers. 


" *** Every effort to estimate the requirements of this job have been taken, in preparation of this quote.  No matter how diligent we are in our research, however, we cannot guarantee that our quote will contain every item necessary to pass the final inspection.  NFPA, NEC, IFC, and other applicable codes, defer the ultimate decision of approval to the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ).  We will do everything we can to discover changes the AHJ may request, before the final inspection.   Any items required by the AHJ, as a result of their final inspection, will be added to this quote as a change order."


Our only other option is to build plenty of cushion into our quotes, so that we never have to add devices or create a change order.  We want to be as transparent as possible in our quotes, and competitive, so this option doesn't work well either.


So we'll continue to make our best guess at what the AHJ will want, based on national codes and past experience, and just hope that we're close most of the time.


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Does every building need a fire alarm?

by Adam Jacobs 10/24/2014

I thought our area had some strict fire codes...until I read this article from Sweden.  The local officials there want the ice hotel, made entirely of frozen water, to have fire alarms!  Check out the full article at



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Iowa Green Streets - CO detection

by Adam Jacobs 9/10/2014

In Iowa Green Streets Criteria version 4.0, Section 7-16 specifies that "One hard-wired carbon monoxide (CO) detector shall be installed for each sleeping area, minimum one per floor."  This section is labeled Combustion Equipment (includes space and water-heating equipment).  Under "Intent", this section mentions the difference between direct vent and power vented equipment.  With either type of equipment, a minimum of one detector per floor is mandatory to meet the criteria of Iowa Green Streets.  In contrast, IFC 2012 requires CO detection on floors that use gas-fired appliances, floor above and floor below, as well as any floor with a garage.  CO detection is here to stay.

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Increased Review/Permit Fees For Fire Alarms in Des Moines

by Adam Jacobs 8/28/2014

The Des Moines Fire Department announced 3 weeks ago that they would be increasing the fees to submit, review, and obtain a permit for all fire alarm systems and fire sprinkler systems in the city of Des Moines.  These new fees will be effective September 1st, 2014.  The fees will go from $150.00 flat fee on all projects, to a graduated fee schedule based on effected area of the project.  The minimum fee, for projects 10,000 square feet and less, will now be $300.00.  Attached is the full schedule of fees, based on square footage.  We will pay these fees, just like in the past, but will include the increased fees in all estimates/bids for work.  Please make sure you pass along the fees to your customer (general contractor or building owner) also.  Thanks.


Permit Fee Sched City of DSM - Aug 2014.pdf (416.18 kb)

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