Three Data Points for Sourcing Fire Inspection and Testing Vendors

Crucial real estate investment could easily be destroyed or lost in a fire. Fortunately, proper inspection and testing work to mitigate or prevent those losses. Procuring fire inspection service providers is an important part of any industrial or manufacturing operation. Considering the risk factor for a fire to occur in a medium- to large-sized plant, companies have an incentive to find the right fire inspection and testing service providers that align to their businesses. Nonetheless, there are factors that must be considered by fire inspection service providers to propose their best quotes going forth. Companies, in considering their facility maintenance program, that have visibility into their fire systems could leverage better rates and maintain a consistent, accurate scope of work.

Fire Protection Systems Inventory

An important consideration will be understanding how much different equipment plays a role in the fire protection systems of each site. Many service providers are able to base their fire inspection services on an itemized pricing structure. By extracting the quantity by each product, buyers can present sound opportunities for fire inspection vendors such as the number of risers in a fire sprinkler system. Additional information that could be provided includes last inspection date, location of equipment, and manufacturer information. It is important to note that manufacturer information is critical in the compatibility for servicing fire alarm systems as there may be specialized technicians who can service a few manufacturer-specific systems. Moreover, it would also be important to discern the attributes between one product from another. Buyers must be knowledgeable about the differences between similar equipment in the same service line.

For example, companies must differentiate between a wet sprinkler system and a dry sprinkler system. This is an important distinction because this difference affects both the inspection scope of work and cost. Wet sprinkler systems are filled with water and connected to a water supply; water is then discharged instantaneously as the sprinkler system detect fire or heat. On the other hand, sprinkler heads in a dry sprinkler system have pipes that are filled with pressurized nitrogen gas or air which suppress water until a fire is detected. In most cases, dry sprinkler systems have higher installation and maintenance costs with the increased complexity of the sprinkler system, leading to higher inspection costs. Understanding these precise and cost-dependent aspects of one’s fire systems equipment will provide more accurate price quotes from Fire Inspection vendors.

Fire Inspection companies will assess the total amount of assets per site, and from the various assortment of systems, these companies can formulate their pricing models. Either through an a la carte price sheet or a site-specific cost model, these offerings can then be evaluated against the inventory in place.


Portfolio information must be considered in the discussions with fire inspection service providers. Buyers who need to ensure fire inspection across all of their company’s real estate must be forthright in providing vendors information such as mailing address, square footage, and types of facility. For example, National Accounts fire service providers oftentimes use numerous subcontractors to fulfill their account needs. Likewise, regional or local service providers are geographically-constrained. Therefore, hourly rates of services may be tended by site, so a labor rate in New York City may be different than one in San Francisco.

A favorable outcome of providing square footage of in-scope facilities is that Fire Inspection service providers could also provide estimates on certain service lines. For example, sprinkler systems are installed proportional to facility size, and therefore, service providers could quote out their pricing based on this information. Service providers can extrapolate that one sprinkler head must be placed by a certain number of square footages. This may be useful in cases where no further information could be provided such as in the absence of inspection reports or fire sprinkler system equipment data.

Regulatory Compliance

Local ordinances and state statutes are fundamental considerations in ensuring proper fire protection regulations. So, ensuring fire inspections are done properly is important in keeping with the law and observing statutory requirements. This could mean higher costs depending on the regulations in place by the local and state laws. Therefore, it would be important to consider regulations specific to the sites in scope. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) set standards that are followed across the vast majority of fire protection service providers, and these standards are meant to work alongside government regulations. The NFPA codes and standards can help set a basic standard scope of work before amending to specific local ordinances and state statutes.

Moreover, some companies must comply with their insurance requirements which may involve a higher frequency in inspections than usual. All NFPA codes and standards have a specified frequency (e.g. quarterly, annually) for each test and inspection. However, insurances may require more frequent testing or inspections to comply with their risk assessment. These, in turn, would result in higher costs that should be evident from the bids brought forth. 

Ideally, companies should provide transparency and opportunity into their fire inspection needs. Procurement plays a hand in demonstrating their company’s needs and wants in the fire inspection space. Coupled with the considerations for properly maintained service levels, this space requires extensive category management and disclosure.

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Michael Vu

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