What Price Do Fire Alarm & Sprinkler Installers/Inspectors Charge?
By Andrew Erickson
February 5, 2023
If you have a building that needs a fire detection and prevention system, you'll inevitably have to pay for installations and inspections. How do you know what price is appropriate for these services?
What I've done today is my usual trick of researching actual price quotes issued to government agencies. There's no universal answer to the question of price, but examining real quotes can teach us a lot about generally acceptable rates and the factors that affect the price you'll pay for an FACP, whether made by Gamewell/FCI or Honeywell or any other FACP manufacturer.
First, fire alarm installers tend to charge by the hour. Rates can range from $45-$75 per hour depending on where you live and the level of experience of the installer. Other factors that may affect the rate are whether it's a one-time installation or part of an ongoing service agreement and whether you require special fire detection systems
What should you pay for fire alarm installation? What about inspection? These real-world quotes offer some useful reference figures for your budget planning.
Example Quote #1: Fire Alarm Inspection & Fire Sprinkler Inspection in Texas
In this quote to Collin County (Texas), the proposing service company has quoted prices of:
- $535 for fire alarm inspection
- $222 for fire sprinkler inspection
Notice that these prices are a flat rate ("fixed price") for the work to be performed. This is distinct from hourly rates.
With flat-rate pricing, risk is shifted from you to the contractor. No matter how long the actual work takes, you pay the same. Of course, the flat rate you pay still needs to be a reasonable price for the job.
Example #2: Bid Tabulation & Recommendation in Alabama (older 2010 project)
This example is fairly old, so you'll need to consider price inflation. Still, it was such a great document for our educational purposes here that I had to include it.
In this post-bid tabulation document, we can see what each vendor bid on the project to install an FACP and provide monthly ongoing monitoring services (virtually always via a third-party central station, not by the contractor directly). An alternative at larger sites like bases, campuses, and cities, it's common to use in-house "proprietary" fire alarm monitoring instead.
This proposal doesn't split out costs separately (parts vs. labor), but we can still learn a lot from these numbers.
The first bidding company proposed $32,500 with $40 of monthly monitoring cost.
This price is more than twice as high as the $12,530 price with $45 of monthly monitoring cost bid by the second contractor. NOTE: The tabulation sheet does not specify what brand or model of FACP is quoted.
Granted, the $45/mo is slightly higher than $40/mo for monitoring service, but that $5 difference will take... 332 years for $60/year to add up to the price difference! That's hardly a monthly difference to worry about when compared to the initial purchase difference. It should, then, come as no surprise that the $12,530 quote won this particular bid.
There is a third contractor on this bid sheet that submitted a bid (not pictured), but there's a note on this tabulation sheet that indicates "This submittal did not meet the NFPA fire code requirements."
About 10 other listed contractors chose not to bid.
Example #3: Scope of Work & Quote for Fire Alarm Panel Replacement and Troubleshooting
This is a single bidder's response to an RFP request made by a school district for an elementary school. According to the bidder, the agency's fire alarm panel was no longer functioning.
The recommendation by the bidder is as follows:
Fire Alarm panel is no longer functioning and needs to be replaced. We recommend replacement with a newer version Fire Alarm panel ... Parts: Fire Alarm panel, two 12/11 Batteries, Cell Dialer, two Loop Boards, misc. Hardware.
The priced quoted for these items is:
- $4400 for parts
- $4750 for 50 hours of labor @ $95/hour
- $1200 for plans and permits
Again, this provides us with a critical data point for the cost of FACP installation. Granted, this project includes troubleshooting that may constitute a lot of the 50 hours quoted. If we were doing a fresh install, you might expect a much smaller number of hours to be required. The hourly rate might be similar, but this will vary based on your local market labor rates.
Example #4: Scope of Work for Rockdale County (Conyers, GA)
This proposal was to furnish and install the following extensive list of initiating and alarm devices:
- 200 photoelectric smoke detectors
- 11 control modules
- 4 single monitor modules
- 55 heat detectors
- 17 duct detector heads
- 19 dual monitor modules
- 104 relay modules
- 15 manual pull stations
This list carries a total (including both equipment and installation labor) of about $36,800.
There is also an optional extra list of equipment and labor for about $7400 that includes:
- Replace the CPU with a new CPU (more recent hardware)
- Replace 1 Loop Module and 1 Loop Expander module.
- Programming & testing labor are included.
The first price list ($36,800) can give you an idea of what a medium-sized building (requiring 200 smoke detectors) might cost to fill with initiating devices and alarm equipment. Notice that there is no FACP included, as there is already an existing fire panel at this location.
The optional extra that is listed is to repair/replace/upgrade the existing FACP with new hardware. The new hardware will require programming and testing, which is also included in the optional $7400 amount.
What price can you expect to pay for fire alarm installation and inspection?
Based on these examples, fire alarm and fire sprinklers installation and inspection can cost anywhere from $535 for a fire sprinkler inspection up to $12,530 for fire panel replacement with associated troubleshooting. Fire alarms tend to vary more in price than the fire sprinkler inspection due to the complexities of wiring, programming, and other components that are necessary for fire alarm installation.
When choosing a fire alarm installer or fire sprinkler inspection, always be sure to ask for an itemized quote and make sure that the contractor is thoroughly familiar with fire safety codes and regulations in your area. Doing so will ensure you get the best price on quality workmanship.
What's your next step for your budget research on alarm installation & inspection prices?
The best way to continue researching fire alarm and fire sprinkler inspection prices is by talking to fire safety professionals in your area. Ask them for their advice on the cost associated with fire alarm installation, fire sprinkler inspection, fire panel replacement, or whatever else you need. Be sure to always get an itemized quote that details all costs so that you can properly compare different options and price factors.
As you saw here in my examples, the price of parts and labor are often wrapped up into one line item to reduce your purchase resistance. This isn't necessarily a problem, but don't accept a bundle price without some consideration and comparison to other offers.
Call Digitize to discuss prices for both fire alarm systems and associated labor rates
We're a manufacture of fire alarm equipment, so we can always give you a quote (or connect you with a local distributor) for Digitize products. We're also a long-time player in this industry, so we're happy to give you general advice and guidance about what you should be paying for other products and service.
To get started now, call a Digitize engineer at 1-800-523-7232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrew Erickson is an Application Engineer at DPS Telecom, a manufacturer of semi-custom remote alarm monitoring systems based in Fresno, California. Andrew brings more than 16 years of experience building site monitoring solutions, developing intuitive user interfaces and documentation, and...Read More