Organizations can intuitively understand the consequences fire damage can have on their business such as reduced productivity, property damage, lost revenue, and most consequentially potential lives and livelihoods. The overall need for a fire protection company is easy to comprehend.
However, the consideration set in selecting the right fire protection partner is less intuitive. With many companies all offering different spectrums of services, it’s important to know what questions to ask a potential fire protection service provider when evaluating them.
How to Select a Fire Protection Service Provider
While choosing the right fire protection company might seem challenging, the following questions will provide organizations the foundation and direction to start the search and find the inspection and service provider that best fits their fire and life safety needs.
Whether you oversee a restaurant, college campus, government agency, retail business, or something else entirely, the right fire protection service provider is out there ready to help with your unique needs; you just need to know the right questions to ask.
Here are 5 topics to focus on while considering a prospective fire protection company.
Fire Protection Services Offered
One of the first topics to discuss with a prospective fire protection company is the breadth of services provided. Businesses often need multiple fire protection services in order to fully protect their business, assets, and employees, depending on the overall layout of the property, available budget, and the required fire and life safety measures. However, many vendors have a limited portfolio of fire and life safety services, leaving a gap in protection. Search to find a fire protection company that offers a comprehensive one-stop-shop for fire protection and life safety services. The right fire protection company is one that provides a full-service, tailored fire protection solution to address the specific needs and unique challenges of the customer.
Organizations should also know who does the actual work. Does the fire protection company have a team of certified technicians that perform the work themselves, or do they contract it out to other vendors? A fire protection company that can design, install, inspect, maintain and repair a diverse range of fire protection systems independently - rather than outsourcing - will provide organizations a more reliable and cohesive experience from knowledgeable and skilled technicians.
Relevant questions to ask regarding fire protection capabilities include:
- Do you cover all fire and life safety protection services needed to protect our property, assets, and employees?
- Do you offer services that will cover future fire and life safety needs?
- What capabilities do you offer beyond fire and life safety system inspection? Do you offer design, installation, maintenance, and repair services, as well?
When choosing the right fire protection company, it is important to know what industries a service provider has expertise and experience in. Whether that be in property management, restaurants, or industrial verticals, make sure the fire protection company has not only served your organization’s industry but has the credible references to back up the claim.
Offering to share a list of references is a pillar of business best practice and this principle should be applied when finding the right fire protection company. Any credible fire protection company should have a list of satisfied clients ready to advocate on their behalf.
Relevant questions to ask regarding the industries served of a prospective fire protection company include:
- Have you worked with companies in my industry/vertical?
- What past client most closely resembles my fire and life safety needs? How did you address them?
Experience is a critical factor when measuring the criteria for a prospective fire protection company. Businesses should seek established fire protection companies as longevity and stability are indicators that the company provides credible services.
The true value contained in the expertise of a prospective fire protection company lies in its ability to mitigate customer stress and offer peace of mind. An experienced fire protection company will ensure regulation compliance as fire codes and associated technologies change from year to year. Businesses can focus more of their time and resources on high priority areas by delegating inspection of fire and life safety systems to experienced and trained technicians.
Relevant questions to ask regarding experience include:
- What is the level of technical expertise of your technicians?
- How long have you been in business?
- Do you have in-house technicians?
- Do employees undergo continuous training?
Certifications and Thought Leadership
The certifications of a fire protection and life safety service provider act as a window into how committed they are to their customer’s success. When a fire protection company has certifications, it means that they are keeping up with changes in the industry and ensuring their work will keep their customers in compliance.
One credible certification to look for is the National Institute for Certification in Engineering technologies (NICET). This certification indicates that an individual has the expertise needed to design, repair, modify, or maintain a given fire and life safety system. Organizations should choose a fire protection company that carries NICET certifications for all the systems they install and maintain.
Businesses should also be aware to what degree prospective fire protection companies are active in fire protection organizations. Fire protection companies that place emphasis on becoming thought leaders in various trade associations such as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) display a dedication to their craft and their customers.
Relevant questions to ask regarding certifications include:
- What type of certifications do you have?
- Are you active in NFPA, NAFED, AFSA and/or FSSA?
There are several key factors organizations should consider regarding price when choosing the right fire protection company for their needs. Organizations should first understand their individual needs and which services they will require accordingly as fire protection companies charge varying amounts depending on the service provided. For example, the cost of installing a smoke detector will vary from the cost of inspection and maintenance.
Other factors that impact price include but are not limited to:
- Size of the building
- Type of assets being protected
- The buildings age
- Features and functions that need testing
Costs are important to consider, as an organization’s budget is not limitless. However, fire and life safety are not areas in which businesses should jeopardize quality and service for a lower price tag. There are an abundance of fire protection companies that offer low-cost services at the expense of a thorough and detailed completed job. While saving money in the short-term may seem attractive, the hidden costs will reveal themselves in the form of frequent maintenance costs, non-compliance fines, and in a worst-case scenario, destruction of property, data, and human life.
Relevant questions to ask regarding fire protection company pricing include:
- How do you communicate the charges associated with a project?
- What is your process for determining an estimate?
- How do you price an annual or semi-annual inspection?
Plan for the Future with Your Fire Protection Company
After discussing the answers to these questions, you should have a good idea if a fire protection company is a good fit for your organization right now, but what about in the future?
An organization should consider goals and growth plans in the near and far future, and how a chosen fire protection company can or can’t support these. An organization’s future fire and life safety protection needs may look drastically different if the organization has undergone significant growth, changed locations, or for several other factors. Businesses should choose a fire protection company that is able to provide a diverse spectrum of fire and life safety services that supports scalability and fosters growth.
No matter which fire protection company you choose for your business, doing your research now will save you time, energy, and money as you begin your new partnership with a qualified and trusted fire protection company.