Fire and Life Safety America

A contractor’s work isn’t done after it finishes erecting a building – one of the most important finishing touches is the fire protection system. For this niche service, many contractors call on Virginia-based Fire and Life Safety America (FLSA) to outfit buildings with fire protection and life-safety devices. The company installs fire alarms, fire sprinklers, special hazard fire systems, emergency exit lights, fire extinguishers and other devices.

FLSA works with many leaders in the construction industry, including Hensel Phelps and Turner Construction Co. It provides services in the industrial, commercial, residential, public, retrofit and special hazards sectors.

FLSA also provides a high-growth service division that tests and inspects systems. The company, either with internal resources or outside partners, provides these services throughout the United States. “We’ve had customers who like our quality and consistency asking us to service their needs outside our physical location network, so we developed a like-minded partner network to serve our custo­mers,” COO Ken Bitner explains. “The network is made up of high-quality partners that we’ve teamed up with to do work outside our standard service area. We work closely with our partners to ensure that all customer services are done to our standards of quality and consistency.”

This unique service department – and its wide reach – makes FLSA a one-stop shop to ensure clients’ buildings remain safe. “When it comes to either a regional or national customer, we can handle all their needs, providing an attractive alternative to the one or two companies who could serve customers nationally in the past,” Bitner says.

FLSA employs more than 75 inspectors certified by the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies and through an in-house FLSA-certified training program to ensure clients’ systems are working properly. These professionals can:

  • Inspect and test addressable and analog fire alarm systems;
  • Program a variety of alarm systems;
  • Service fire alarms;
  • Monitor fire alarm systems from the central station;
  • Test and certify backflow prevention devices;
  • Inspect and test water-based fire protection suppression systems;
  • Test fire pumps;
  • Inspect and test special hazards suppression systems;
  • Inspect and test fire extinguishers; and 
  • Identify manufacturers’ recalls of sprinkler heads.

FLSA’s inspections are performed to ISO 9001:2008 quality and NFPA standards on a weekly, monthly, quarterly or annual basis, setting the company apart from the competition. “Customer reports from FLSA are also available 24/7 on our Lifeguard Network, which gives recipients instant access to all inspection reports, deficiencies and service reports on FLSA’s secure Intranet,” the company says. “We simplify customers’ reporting and legal requirements by eliminating the scramble to find a report or proof of work performed when the local fire marshal pays our customers a visit. Also, the FLSA work schedule review tool allows customers to view and set inspections at their convenience, which is a key part of improved customer service.”

Integral Work

FLSA believes that quality is more than just a slogan, so all locations are ISO 9001 – 2008 certified, all fire alarm installers are Underwriters Laboratories-certified, and inspectors and technicians have been through both NICET and FLSA certifications.  In addition, FLSA has employees who are members of key code-writing committees in fire protection, as well as a fire protection engineer on staff. This commitment ensures that the design, consulting, estimating and construction services offered are “best of class,” with the quality standards to prove the claim is real, the company says.

“It’s something that helps us make sure we do something the same way every time and at the highest level of quality,” Bitner says, “which means consistent quality for customers.”

The company’s work also is backed by a three-year warranty, which is two years longer than the standard one-year industry warranty. “We want your systems to be right, and we would come out anyway,” Bitner says. “This is just a way of showing our customers and employees that we stand behind our work.”

FLSA has installed systems in such unusual locations as the Pentagon, aircraft hangars, the Orlando Magic Event Center, data centers and corporate headquarters, including Capital One and Progress Energy. “We are recognized as an industry leader whose work is reliable and who meets design specifications and deadlines even in difficult installation circumstances and challenging retrofit installations,” Bitner says.

FLSA’s consistent quality is spurred by employees who strive to live up to the company’s core values, which make up the anagram “PIPE,” Bitner explains. It stands for: passion for life safety, integrity, partnering with clients, and excellence in operations.

Finding qualified employees can be difficult within the industry because fire protection is very specific and there are few established training programs to add to the trained work force. FLSA has funded scholarships or programs with several  colleges that provide fire protection programs, including Canada’s Seneca College and the University of Mary­land. 

“There is a shortage of trained applicants in the market, and industry growth has outpaced the people resource,” Bitner says. “So FLSA has created training programs including helping new recruits in their first six months up through improving our best employees. We are excited to share our passion for life safety with new employees so that we can train the next generation. Through all of our programs, our goal is to show our customers and our employees that we live up to our slogan of ‘Simply the Best.’ Day in and day out, those are words to live by within Fire and Life Safety America.” 

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