American Alarms Blog

Hotel Fire Alarm Upgrade with Zero Downtime

by Adam Jacobs 9/21/2022

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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Urbandale Requires Fire Alarm in Apartments

by Adam Jacobs 9/21/2022

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.

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Wireless fire alarm can save money and headaches for commercial property managers

by Adam Jacobs 9/21/2022

Imagine if you didn't have to interrupt your tenant's business to add a few fire alarm devices in the space next door.

Imagine if there was never a dispute over whose responsibility the fire alarm is.

Imagine if you could add, move, and re-use devices on your fire alarm easily and quickly.


These dreams are all reality for our customers that use our commercial wireless fire alarm systems.  All smoke detectors, sprinkler monitoring, pull stations, heat detectors, and even most of the notification devices are wireless.  

In most tenant remodels, with wired devices, the owner/manager has no choice but to buy new devices and pay for them to wired.  Often this process results in new wiring running through another tenant space to get power or signal from the main control panel.  This is NOT the case with wireless.

With wireless fire alarm there is:

No new wiring through occupied tenant spaces.

Up to 2048 device addresses available per panel.

Easy relocation and even re-use of devices, if needed.

No "rats nest" of wires left above the ceiling after multiple remodels.


If you manage multi-tenant commercial properties, call us today to see how wireless fire alarm can benefit you and your properties.



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Don't be afraid to get away from wires!

by Adam Jacobs 9/21/2022

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Saving Copper with Wireless Fire Alarm

by Adam Jacobs 9/21/2022

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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July Sale on Wireless Fire Alarm

by Adam Jacobs 9/21/2022

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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Pull station without wires

by Adam Jacobs 9/21/2022

Most people who have heard a fire alarm activate, knows what a pull station is.  But did you know that you can have this safety feature without wires?  So even in areas where wiring is a challenge, or you're preserving a historic building, you can have pull stations to indicate a fire so occupants can evacuate.  CWSI by Johnson Controls makes wireless pull stations, smoke detectors, heat detectors, fire transmitters, and CO detectors that can allow fire detection and alarm in challenging places.   


Photo by Jared Reese

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Commercial Wireless Fire Alarm - the pros and cons

by Adam Jacobs 9/21/2022

Wireless fire alarm in a commercial building has had a rocky history.  There were lots of trial and error improvements made, however.  The remaining products are as reliable as wired ones, with all factors considered.


Pros of wireless fire alarm devices:

Allows for more flexibility

No wires (except AC power), little wiring labor, no wiremold/conduit

Little chance of ground faults (one of the most common and annoying problems with wired systems)

Little chance of lightning damage (especially if you protect the AC circuit and eliminate the phone lines)

Easily changed (like in multi-tenant buildings where spaces/configurations change often)

Fast installation compared to wired system

Power/battery consumption has improved greatly over the last few years


Cons of wireless systems:

Batteries still only last 2-3 years (typically 3V Lithium CR123A type)

Device cost is 2 or more times that of wired devices 

Programming and setup takes longer (but much of this can be done before bringing parts to installation site)

Not every configuration/requirement can be done wireless

Large systems (over 50 devices) become more difficult to do wireless, but are possible


After weighing all the factors of your project, be sure you consider wireless fire alarm.  Especially if the project is multi-tenant where the overall system design could change every few months, wireless allows flexibility and lower remodel costs.  


*NOTE: Not all local AHJs will approve wireless fire alarms, even though they are acceptable in NFPA.  Be sure you check with your local AHJ before getting too serious about wireless fire alarm.


I believe everyone's goal in our industry is to protect as many people as well as we can.  Wireless fire alarm presents some interesting opportunities for challenging design projects.



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