How Much Does A Commercial Fire Alarm System Cost

A fire can happen in minutes and result in injuries, loss of life, and destruction of property. A commercial fire alarm system protects your employees and your business. Early detection is key, and a commercial fire alarm system will alert you and your employees as soon as fire or smoke is detected.

A commercial fire alarm system is a big-ticket purchase for most businesses. However, the commercial fire alarm system cost is money well-spent to safeguard your workers and your assets. 

So how much does a commercial fire alarm system cost?  The overall cost depends on several factors. 

Commercial Fire Alarm System Cost Factors 

A number of factors can affect the cost of installation of a commercial fire alarm system: the size and age of the building, the type of fire alarm system you choose, the components of your system, and the cost of monitoring.

Building Size and Age

The size of your commercial structure will have a significant impact on the cost of your fire alarm system. Typically, the more square footage your building has, the more expensive your equipment and installation cost will be because you will need more sensors, alarms, and pull stations. In general, the commercial fire alarm system cost will follow these guidelines:

  • Count on an average cost of $1 to $2 per square foot for a simple installation. 
  • For a complex installation, such as in a multi-floor building, the price may increase to $3 to $5 per square foot or higher.
  • Because older buildings often present unique challenges, retrofitting an older structure may cost between $4 per square foot up to $12 per square foot. This is due to the cost of additional labor for a more difficult installation. New construction installation is usually easier and cheaper.
  • The cost to install a fire alarm system in an apartment building averages $1800-$2500 per apartment.
  • Installation in a large, crowded office space or other structure can cost up to $15,000 to $20,000.

Type of System

The type of system you choose will impact your overall commercial fire alarm system cost, especially in terms of labor. You can choose between a wired system or a wireless system. 

In new construction, many business owners choose a wired system due to the ease of installation during the building process, reliability, and response time to a fire threat. The equipment is simpler and less expensive overall.

However, in older buildings, a wireless system may be less expensive to install in order to avoid the labor-intensive process of running wires in existing ceilings and walls. The quick, low-hassle installation will minimally disrupt the work environment. It is important to note that while the reliability of wireless systems has increased in recent years and the price of wireless equipment has dropped, wireless equipment is still more expensive than wired. 

There are advantages and disadvantages to each type of system, and you should consider whether a hard-wired, wireless, or hybrid system is the best fit for the property. 

Components of Commercial Fire Alarm System

The fire protection components you choose will affect the overall commercial fire alarm system cost. Equipment prices vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. The following components are part of a commercial fire alarm system and include initiating devices, notification appliances, and suppression devices. The number of each item needed depends on the size and type of your commercial building.

Manual Fire Alarm Pull Stations

The National Fire Protection Association 101 Life Safety Code requires at least one manual fire pull station in each commercial building. The cost of a manual fire alarm pull station is $20 to $99. Many businesses utilize more than one. 

Fire Alarm Pull Station

Smoke detectors

Smoke detectors are typically installed on the ceiling of every room in a building. According to the National Fire Protection Association, a smoke alarm covers a radius of 21 feet. The maximum recommended distance between two smoke alarms is 30 feet. Business owners can use this information to calculate how many smoke detectors are needed. The cost of a single smoke detector ranges from $10 to $70. 

Heat Detectors

Heat detectors are an important element in protecting property in commercial buildings such as warehouses. The cost of a heat detector ranges from $11 to $150.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Carbon monoxide detectors monitor the carbon monoxide levels in the air. You can purchase carbon monoxide detectors for as low as $15 to as high as $150.

Flame Detectors

Flame detectors are often used in businesses that might be prone to large-scale fires or explosions, including factories or any business that stores extremely-flammable products. The cost of a flame detector is much higher than other devices at $2800 to $3000.

Fire Alarm Control Panel

A fire alarm control panel serves as the brain of the fire alarm system. It monitors all of the detectors and can respond to a fire in a variety of ways, such as sounding evacuation alarms, initiating sprinklers, and closing fire doors. The control panel can be “addressable,” meaning that each detector is assigned an address. When an emergency arises, it is easy to pinpoint the location of the fire. The cost of a basic addressable control panel ranges from $2000 to $5000. 

Fire alarm control panel is activated and in alert mode.

Audible and Visual Warning Devices

Notification appliances play a crucial role in a commercial fire alarm system. A notification device will sound a loud noise to attract the attention of everyone in the building. This may be a bell, horn, or chime. In addition to audible devices, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 

requires the installation of strobes in all public areas. In the case of fire, a hearing-impaired employee or customer may not be aware of an alarm sound. Strobes must be installed in all common-use areas including cafeterias, hallways, meeting rooms, restrooms, and lobbies. The cost of these notification appliances ranges from $40 to over $200 per unit. A combination horn-strobe can be purchased as well. 

Sprinkler System

Sprinkler systems fall under the category of suppression devices.  Many business owners consider sprinklers essential to protecting the contents of their workplace, but they can be one of the most expensive items in your commercial fire alarm system cost. Sprinklers can be automatically activated by the fire alarm control panel when fire is detected. Sprinkler systems differ in their size and range, but you can safely estimate a price between $2 and $10 per square foot. 

Monitoring Costs

A final commercial fire alarm system cost is the monthly monitoring fee. Again, this cost will depend on the type of monitoring you choose for your business, your building size, and the number of sensors you install. Generally speaking, the monthly monitoring fee will range between $50 to $100 per month. In some cases, this cost includes yearly equipment inspections. Choosing a reliable monitoring company is vital to protecting your business. 

commercial fire alarm monitoring service

Bottom Line

There are many factors to consider when estimating your commercial fire alarm system cost. Having the peace of mind that your employees and assets are protected is definitely worth the investment.

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