How to Design a Fire Alarm System – Easy tips

After 8 years in the fire alarm design field, I decided I will go ahead and post a “how to” for the people just starting out in fire alarm design. I hope you understand that what I am posting below is not trying to suggest or imply that every jurisdiction goes by the same standards. Some have higher standards than others so some of what is posted below, may not be acceptable in their jurisdiction.
The specific details and codes of fire alarm design can vary by Jurisdiction. While the initial design is the same by default. The phrase you need to always remember when designing a fire alarm system is “can the initiating devices detect problems and can all notification be heard and seen?”.
Remember; if you don’t know. Then call the AHJ (authority having jurisdiction)

Be sure and watch the video below to see in action what I am talking about here. Sorry I don’t talk in the video. so.. may as well turn on the radio.

Proper visual coverage

Candela Coverage
picture C

Visual notification devices typically have adjustable candela settings  so that you can buy a bulk of one device and place them throughout a building or unit, and change the candela setting to match your needs. Some special needs devices are required for certain areas though.
In picture C the hallway length is 26 feet, and the coverage of a 30 candela is 15 feet in either direction, the 30 candela selection was the optimal choice. The tool (square with the X in it) you see measuring the array is something I made a few years back and turned into a block and call it up on many drawings. I have one for all typical candela settings , 15cd, 30cd, 75cd, and 110cd. I also have another that has all 4 in it so I don’t have to keep switching between them all when I am looking for a proper fit. I suggest that if you make one, add it to your template. If you don’t have a fire alarm template I have a couple for sale. Just click anywhere on this page that says “fire alarm template ” .
When you make your block, be sure and make it as useful as you can by adding as much information as you typically need, into the block to use later. because you will use it all every time if you use it one time. I’ve added candela selection and voltage to my notifications. Saves so much time. and I don’t have to remember so much while I work.

Simply stated
Audio  and visual notification for the hallways and corridors and visual notification for the rooms connected to the hallway.

Two doors deep and every other.

picture A
picture A

This is an audio notification coverage trick. Which suggests that you do not let the audio coverage exceed one door with in a unit/building. Meaning if the main corridor of a building has horn strobes or speakers in it and you are working on a unit that has a main entree with doors that lead into hallways with multiple rooms/offices, (picture A For this one we will use horn strobes) Note the location of the audio notification in the corridor and consider if the nearest horn strobe is within audible range of the main entree area. In the case of the picture below (picture A) we will say that the horn strobe can be heard in the Reception area of the suite/area of work. In this case a strobe for visual notification would be the first object placed in the reception area.

picture B
picture B

However, since the unit we are working on may be getting built out at a later time than the original installation we will design this independently from the rest of the building. Making the main entree area the starting point of our notification coverage (see picture B). Since the reception area in theory would hold multiple people in it and it’s ambient decibel could be quite high, we will make this the first point of audio notification. We will add a horn strobe to this room.Now we exit that room into the unit’s hallway and the first device will typically be a visual notification device so we will place a strobe in this area. It would be good practice to make the next notification device from the first strobe a horn strobe to maintain audibility throughout the unit. Do your best to maintain that pattern. When you come to a point where you you have to question audibility (due to turns in hallways or rooms within rooms), Go ahead and increase audibility by adding another horn strobe even if it breaks your pattern. As depicted in picture B , there isn’t an immediate horn strobe in the hallway from the conference room, and there will in theory be more than one person in that room when occupied, proper audible notification would be to add a horn strobe in that area.

Smoke detection
Smoke detectors have an area of coverage of about about 15 feet to the left, 15 feet to the right. Again I advise you make a block for this measurement also. and save it to your fire alarm template for later use. 30×30.
In most jurisdictions, smoke detectors might not be required in every room of a commercial building if the building has a full fire sprinkler system installed.
This means smoke detectors likely are required through the hallways and corridors, but not necessary in offices and lobby. No sense in “Over Smoking” a building.
It is best to call your AHJ and find out their requirements.

Pull stations
Pull stations at every exit and every stair well, within 5 feet of the door, unless not required by AHJ.

Battery Calculations and Voltage Drops
Important part of your design. Tells if you have designed with the optimal amount of booster panels to correctly power your notification devices, and if the battery will last long enough to withstand the required time of holding charge in the event of power failure. Most of your vendors have excel spreadsheets that help you do this work. I have my own. Mine makes it faster and easier for me. I guess since I made them myself. I recommend you make yours too and base them on exact details of requirements.


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How to get work in the fire alarm industry in Texas

So you are looking for a job and want to know what it takes to get a job with a fire alarm company. You are wondering if there is a special license or certification you need to do the work. Well you do need a license for a few things. Certain tasks require you to be licensed, if you are not licensed then someone needs to be near by that you work under who is licensed.
So yes you can work for a fire alarm company when you do not have a license.
Your value will be low.
On the upside, the fire alarm license is very easy to obtain. You just have to know a bit about the wiring and safety codes of a fire alarm system. Without that knowledge, you are just a helper and will stay a helper until you prove such knowledge.
How do you prove that you understand codes and standards about fire alarm systems and the wiring?
You pass the FAL (Fire Alarm License) test.
Without an FAL, you are going to stay at the lowest wage in the industry.
Though the fire alarm business pays more for the technician’s helpers than most industries out there, you still have a low value to most companies. Which makes you the most expendable person on the staff.
What you want is to get your FAL with in the first year or so, and then soon after go get your Nicet certification.
With Nicet certification, your value to most companies in the fire alarm industry is above the average technician’s pay. and the good thing here is that the nicet certification test is comprised mostly of the same questions as the FAL test.
There are currently 4 level of Nicet certification
With each level of certification, you gain more abilities and greater value in the industry. The Higher the certification, the more the companies want you. Simply because you can handle greater legal responsibility and be a representative of the company when talking with legal officials. Such as fire alarm inspectors or fire marshals.

If you already have any of these licenses and are looking for a job in the fire alarm industry, you can move right along and fill out an application at TEAMWIRED.COM .

or you can check back at this page for a practice test I will be posting a link to. I intend to only charge $10 for the effort it takes me to type the questions and answers (separate pdfs). The objective is not to guarantee you a passing grade but to teach you how to use your NFPA books to hurriedly look for the sections you need. (if you want this to happen please comment below or there would be no reason for my effort)

If you are a fire alarm designer looking for a good fire alarm template with blocks and title block and fire alarm legend with all symbols, you can try Scroll down the page for different fire alarm cad items. Same for fire alarm companies wanting to make your designs uniform amongst your designers.

If you are looking for a fire alarm company with qualified technicians and staff, try TEAMWIRED.COM


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Alarm Company in Houston Hiring

TEAMWired Hiring of Houston Texas is hiring installers , helpers, technicians and sales people.

Need Access Control service technicians. Need to have experience with alarms and keyless entry, electric door strikes, mag locks, cctv, dvr systems and access gates.
TEAMWired is looking for fire alarm installers and helpers.
TEAMWired has high expectations for each applicant. This is not a job for lackies or slackers. This is a job for people with a “completed correctly and neatly” mindset.  You must be someone who takes honor in your job and the quality of your work or you will not work out well here. You must be prompt, so having your own vehicle to get to work is a requirement. Unless you are a licensed technician who is allowed use of a company vehicle.
Have a Nicet license or an FAL in hand when you come to apply for positions that require licensing.

Contact Teamwired Fire Alarm

How I feel when applying for jobs

as I responded to my Ex who is “just trying to help”

Coding? No. I just edit files. I don’t code.

My SEO skills are different from the companies that sale SEO. My work pisses most of them off and they try to call it obsolete, because I use the format that is expected by search engines. I can do what they want, but it feels like I am playing dodge ball with 9 year olds, It’s like working a week with Trees of Houston and then going to a gym full of polo shirts and polo shorts staring at you while they curl to show YOU what they can do. It’s irritating.

What I do in AutoCAD leads to what you are calling blue prints. I don’t have an architects license or degree. That takes big money and lots of time to achieve. Though I can draw for an architect, have him inspect my work and then stamp it as his own work. There is a lot in that field I do not know. Structural design I know about 10%.  I can draw existing buildings by dimensions and make notes of existing appliances for permitting, but again, I have no license in that field either.

I am considering starting up my own fire alarm design team with a few APS certified people I know and working on getting my aps License. First I need nicet level III. I failed the level I because I froze up. 130 questions, 80 minutes to answer them I freaked out and spent 10 minutes on first question and ten minutes on second question. and then it got worse. I didn’t get answers wrong. i just couldn’t answer the last 30 questions. $120 or something like that each time you take the test. and well. I don’t have that kind of money right now to take again. If I get a person to stamp my drawings, I can ask for more for each drawing. I applied at a few places last week and got a response of “How about I pay you just draw them, I’ll sign them, and you’ll make more money”

So that could pan out. If I get more companies to do this, that way I am always busy.

Fact is, I cannot make less than I was making. I wasn’t making it. I was steadily getting further into debt. my car has been in the garage for a week because I don’t want it to get repossessed.

SO I have done a couple drawings for the guy and should be meeting up with him soon for payment. I charge almost $200 less than his other guy. So I doubt he will mess me over. That is if he wants me to do more drawings. and save him more money.

So I can’t be occupied by burger king working 60 hours a week for $8 an hour, I’d never get anything accomplished and I would still lose everything and be too busy to get anything real done.

How a designer deals with a lay off

How do I deal a lay off?

I guess I just post about what I can do and what I have to offer. As any resourceful person would do, they market their skills. Cut out the boss and charge below average fees.

such as fire alarm Templates for sale
As you scroll down the page you will see there are plenty of fire alarm blocks for sale. The more there is in the item, the more the cost. If you consider how much you charge an hour, how long it would take you to build the exact same thing and how often you can reuse the blocks, the prices are better than fair. I see no one else offering what I have built over the past 5 years, so I am offering this to the public.

And webdesign
I offer Building of websites, search engine optimization for existing websites and classified ads listings.
For the record, I built the website that has been holding the number one spot in Houston for “Houston Fire Alarm” in Google searches for the past 5 years. and I will have you know that in the beginning, Google was refusing that website because the last web site designer there used bad measures to get seen.

I have built websites for bands, for packaging companies, video gamers, news sites,shelving companies, hair salons, tactical gear sites and shirt designer and lots more. There isn’t a large list of companies that will stump me on website design.

If you are in Houston or anywhere in Texas and need someone to draw up a fire alarm system, message me below. We’ll work something out.

Help Wanted – Fire Alarms Houston

A Fire Alarm Company in Houston is hiring for sales people and licensed technicians.

HiTech Integrated Solutions is hiring for fire alarm sales men and technicians with a good attitude and experience. Technicians are to be certified. Salesmen are to be nice clean cut with good personality and people skills. Download the fire alarm Job application, save it to your computer fill out the proper boxes with necessary information, call 281-970-9000 and request an email address to send job application to.