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What a fire alarm system can cost you

Fire Alarm Systems Buyer's Guide

Because your fire alarm system depends on your fire risk assessment, no one can give you an accurate quote for the likely cost until an engineer has had a chance to study your requirements.

Installation
This is where you may see the widest variation in price, so obtain quotes that itemise equipment separately to installation. The price will vary according to your location, the number of devices, and the difficulty in laying cable in your building. The time involved can also be longer than you might think particularly if you install sprinklers. It may take two weeks or more to install the whole system in a standard size shop and the best part of a year to complete the work in a large factory or office building.

ARC fees
Your monitoring costs may be around £260 - £300 a year for each FACP. You may need to sign for a long contract to bring the price down as low as possible, although you may feel this isn't a problem because you're unlikely to change your ARC if everything is running smoothly.

Maintenance
If you opt for a maintenance contract (see Components of a fire alarm system (ii)), you're paying for a qualified engineer to visit your premises at least once every six months, assuming you carry out the daily and weekly tests yourself. The time the engineer spends with you obviously depends on the size of your system but expect to pay a three figure sum for a small to medium size business. A large business with extensive devices and cabling will cost you far more.

Basic equipment prices

  • FACPs. The price of a conventional eight zone FACP is around £215. The cost of similar addressable FACPs is about £340 - £400.
  • Smoke and heat detectors. Optical smoke detectors begin at approximately £10 each. Fixed temperature and rate of rise heat detectors cost from £18. If you need to buy a substantial amount, you may receive a discount.
  • Fire alarm bells. Standard fire alarm bells cost from £10 - £70.
  • Callpoints. A basic callpoint is about £23. For a weatherproof model for outdoor use, expect to pay around £145.
  • Fire extinguishers. Foam, powder and water fire extinguishers cost from £17 - £30 according to their capacity. A 2 kg CO2 extinguisher is about £30 and a 5 kg model £70. A 6 litre wet chemical fire extinguisher will cost you just over £100.
  • Fire blankets. These are £9 - £10 each.
  • Emergency lighting. An emergency lighting strip that generates 8 watts costs around £25 - £30.
  • Signs and notices. Self-adhesive sign kits start at £4 - £5.
  • Cable. 100 m of fireproof cable is £80 - £90.

Payment
It's possible to lease or rent some or all of your fire alarm system equipment. If this option attracts you, ask the system suppliers for their terms.

Rented premises
If you rent your business premises, you may find there's a fire alarm system already installed. Even so, check that the owner or representative has conducted a recent fire risk assessment. If not, you may have to negotiate to cover the cost of an upgrade.

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