How Much Should You Pay to Install Fire Alarm Monitoring Systems?
How much should you be paying for install labor on a fire alarm monitoring system? As I frequently remind clients during an equipment discussion, installation labor can cost as much as or even more than the price of the actual equipment.
Understanding different pricing methods, quote price traps, and the differences in installation quality all allow for a more confident purchase.
Obviously, this varies. Cheaper boxes are more likely to be exceeded by install expense, simply because they cost less. Honestly priced installation labor is based more on wiring time than the expense of the equipment.
So, how much should you be paying for a qualified professional technician to install fire alarm monitoring equipment in your network? Let's look at some typical averages and some real-world published price quotes to find out...
Prices quoted will commonly be per-hour or per-device
The cost of labor to install a fire alarm monitoring system can vary greatly depending on the size and complexity of the system, as well as who is performing the installation. Generally speaking, however, you should expect to pay anywhere from $100 to upwards of $400 per hour for professional labor related to installing your fire alarm monitoring system. Additionally, some contractors will charge a flat installation fee ranging from $200 to $2,000 or more per device to be installed, depending on the complexity of the system.
For example, one contractor in Houston, Texas might charge $250 per hour for labor relating to fire alarm installation. Another contractor in New York City could quote a flat rate of $1750 per FACP device installed.
Real prices from real sales proposals sent to government agencies
One of the best things about government, when done correctly, is that it belongs to "We The People". Unless there's a valid reason not to release information, everything a government does enters the public domain for the sake of transparency.
That's how I came across several pricing proposals for the installation of fire alarm systems. Some of these quotes are for Digitize systems. Others are not. In either case, we're not shy at Digitize about talking prices. We build quality systems, so our goal is to give you value that massively exceeds any reasonable price anyway.
Here are several examples of price quotes for installing remote boxes and central alarm monitoring stations in a fire alarm context...
Example #1: Price quote to Waterville Fire Department for installing radio boxes & a redundant pair of central fire alarm servers
The Waterville Fire Department in Maine published a request for proposals in 2020 for a "Waterville Municipal Fire Alarm" project spec and received multiple responses.
In August, the Fire Department got several quotations. One quotation had the following description: "The above quote is for a full hardware municipal alarm receiving system with all need accessories and 10 AES wireless radio boxes. Materials and coordination is typically 5-6 weeks on new systems and installation is usually an additional 3-4 weeks."
This proposal included the following items related to installation:
- Qty 2 of "Digitize Prism LX units with installation, testing, programming, and training included" for ~$104,000. This is an "all-inclusive" price that includes installation, which is common to see on price quotes from contractors.
- "10 standard AES Radiobox installations" for $25,000. Noted on this same line is that "external antenna install adds estimated $300-$3,500 per location. If the 10 locations are carefully coordinated, external antenna may not be needed." This is an important note, as it's a real example of when simplifying the amount of install work required can significantly reduce your project's budget consumption.
- Optional additional "2 installations service technicians for 1 full day" for $1400.
- Optional additional "1 service tech for 1 full day" for $875.
- "[subcontractor] labor, Estimate for PD tower work" for $1200. This is a line-item for subcontractor labor. You would imagine from reading this that a subcontractor may have been involved to accomplish tower work (including tower climbing, maybe) that the prime contractor did not wish to perform in-house.
Example #2: Another price quote to Waterville Fire Department for installing an alternative municipal fire alarm system
This is interesting, as it represents a competitive bid to the Digitize solution offered above. As you'll see, this bidder has offered an alternative technology designed to perform the same function.
Here are some notes, focused on the equipment and installation prices quoted:
- "Will help automate the signals from both wireless receivers and the existing 100 milliamp masterboxes ... we believe it is equivalent in that it can meet your needs in receiving the existing and new alarm boxes and acting as a server for the Dispatch consoles."
- "Our per-installation estimate includes the new 7707 2.0 AES 8-zone fire boxes that can also do security zones. Optional pricing will be included for larger antennas or exterior antenna installation."
- Labor rates: "$110 per hour for municipalities". It seems from this labeling that this contractor offers a different (probably discounted) rate for city/county governments and their agencies. "We will also not raise our labor rate for the duration of the project."
- "We see no issue with meeting the timeline of 'the end of November' for the conversion and first 10 boxes - if the frequency is available in time."
- Total price quoted for equipment and installation services: ~$67,000
Example #3: US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data on "Security and Fire Alarm Systems Installers"
As a baseline figure for how much fire alarm installation must necessarily cost, I also pulled wage data for the people who actually do the install and wiring work.
Obviously, this doesn't begin to account for tools and insurance and payroll taxes and management overhead. Still, we can at least say that installing a fire alarm system can't legitimately cost any LESS than what it costs your contractor to pay its workers. Pricing strategies like "installation included!" can obscure the cost, but it's always there.
The "Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2021" report by BLS indicates the following pay rates and stats for the job type "49-2098 Security and Fire Alarm Systems Installers":
- Employment: 77,420 (employees working in this field in the United States)
- Mean hourly wage: $25.08
- 10th-percentile hourly wage: $14.66
- 90th-percentile hourly wage: $36.65
- Mean annual wage: $52,170
Watch out for any "gotcha" traps in price quotes
When considering the cost of labor for installing your fire alarm monitoring system, it is important to research and compare quotes carefully. Be sure to ask if the quote includes any additional fees or taxes that could increase your total costs. Additionally, make sure you understand exactly what is included in the quote, such as any additional equipment or services that may be required. This will ensure you are getting the best value for your money.
Quality installation can actually be a long-term cost savings
Finally, it is important to keep in mind that professional installation of a fire alarm monitoring system can also help save money in the long run. Properly installed fire alarm systems are more reliable and can reduce the risk of false alarms and other problems that could lead to expensive repairs or replacements. Qualified labor is also mandated by many sections of the NFPA fire codes.
You can make all the right decisions - if you do your research
Overall, the cost of installing a fire alarm monitoring system will depend on the size and complexity of the system, as well as who is performing the installation. Make sure you thoroughly research quotes and understand exactly what is included in your quote to ensure you get the best value for your money. With proper research and professional installation, you can be sure that your fire alarm monitoring system will provide reliable protection for years to come.
Call Digitize for free expert guidance and advice
Fire alarm systems are deceptively complicated. Once you think you have everything figured out, some new problem crops up. That's why you need to be working with an expert.
At Digitize, we make our team available to you during the planning stages. Sure, this means that we end up giving away free advice sometimes. We're happy to offer help, though, because you might end up using Digitize equipment for certain projects.
To talk with one of our engineers, call Digitize now at 1-800-523-7232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org