American Alarms Blog

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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HUGE cost savings when you consider wireless.

by Adam Jacobs 8/12/2014

Most of our customers have never considered a wireless fire alarm system.  And until a few months ago, they didn't really have a choice.  But last April, American Alarms became the sole designer/dealer of CWSI systems in Iowa.  We are EXTREMELY excited to partner with CWSI for these reasons...

- CWSI products are 100% made in the USA

- Their products have been put through the RINGER by UL, much more than wired systems.

- They have been perfecting wireless fire alarm systems since 1979.

- They ONLY make wireless fire alarm systems, so they're GOOD at it.


Attached is a cost analysis of a typical apartment complex (or any other multiple-building project).  A wired fire alarm system in a 36-plex apartment building with sounder bases and interior corridors can cost $50,000 or more with labor.  The CWSI system may only be HALF that, depending on total number of devices.  WHY?  Because it takes a LOT of time to plan all the cable routes, pull cable to every room, to wire bases, to wire the panel, etc.


BUT, on top of that, there's ALSO a huge recurring savings on telephone lines, monitoring accounts, service to wiring and ground faults, lightning problems, and on and on.  Download the PDF attached here, to get an idea of how much you can save on a multi-building project.  Then call us!


Savings on Monitoring with CWSI.pdf (119.28 kb)

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Do wireless fire alarm systems really work?

by Adam Jacobs 8/5/2014

Wireless alarm systems have been around for over 30 years.  CWSI is the leader in commercial wireless fire alarm systems, for a number of reasons - wider acceptance, reliability, and experience.  They have been developing their low-frequency wide spectrum RF technology for over 30 years.  In some projects, wireless makes the most sense because it saves labor and can go where wires can't.  Attached is an article from fire protection engineer Lynn Nielson, PE.  This article demystifies many of the confusing aspects of wireless fire alarms.

cp-engineer-article.pdf (617.17 kb)

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Is Your Fire Alarm System Really Communicating?

by Adam Jacobs 7/4/2014

We recently discovered, through numerous tests, that most (if not all) of the newer modem (telephony/VOIP) phone lines are NOT redundant.  So even if you have two phone numbers, if one line is down they're BOTH down.  This is how the modem works.  It's assigning two different phone numbers, but they are communicating over the same "line".  So, if you have phone service that uses a modem and you are using them for your fire alarm be sure you ask the installing technician these two questions:

Is my modem programmed to fake analog phone lines? - this is the only way that the the fire alarm panel will recognize these lines

If one "line" isn't working, do I still have a backup "line" so that my fire alarm panel can communicate an alarm?

Telephony is fine, and it can save you money, but be sure you're not sacrificing your safety. 

CenturyLink is the only telephone service provider in our area that provides true analog phone lines that ALWAYS work with fire alarm communicators.  This isn't a plug for CentruyLink, is simply a fact that we've revealed through years of experience.


Research your telephone service.  You DON'T want your fire protection to be "phony".

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Voice Evacuation Systems and Square Wave Technology

by Adam Jacobs 6/30/2014

Voice evacuation systems have been around for years, but more types of occupancies are now required to have them.  Voice evacuation systems, since tones are generated by speakers, meet the 520 Hz requirement in NFPA 72 2010 and 2013.

The reason for the change in the code is research performed by Bruck and Thomas in Australia.* In over a decade of research, they found that the 520 Hz square wave signal was the most effective in waking all individuals. With children and young adults, the low-frequency signal is 6 to 10 times more effective than the current high-frequency signal. In adults with hearing loss, it was found to be more than seven times as effective as the standard high-frequency (~3,000 Hz) tone used in most audible appliances today.

Attached is a basic explanation and guide for voice evacuations systems.


Voice Evacuation Manual.pdf (1,004.35 kb)

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Lightning and Fire Alarm Systems

by Adam Jacobs 6/26/2014

Thunderstorms, like we had today in central Iowa, wreak havoc on fire alarm systems and other electronics.  What makes fire alarm systems more susceptible than other electronics?  The biggest reason is that it has a HUGE antenna - the Initiating and Notification circuit cables - that attract lightning.  Sometimes these two types of circuits can be over 1000 feet of cable in larger buildings.  The weakest point on the system is the circuit boards in the control panel.  So when a surge is introduced into the system, it can even JUMP right through the circuit board and pop components off when it exits.  Thanks to our great technicians - Mark, Dan, Eric, and David - for handling the slew of service requests that came in today from the storms.  If you have questions about surge protection for your system, one of our partners Ditek has answers.  Below is a link to their Total Surge Solutions website, with lots of great info.  If you need pricing on a solution for your needs, just give us a call.



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Hotel/Motel Fire Safety

by Adam Jacobs 6/25/2014

Summer is a time when families travel more.  There are some basic tips for fire safety, that will give you peace of mind when you travel.  Here is a brochure from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) on hotel and motel fire safety.  Travel safely this Summer!


HotelMotelSafety_brochure.pdf (195.68 kb)

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