Douglas Krantz - Technical Writer - Describing How It Works
Get the book Make It Work - Conventional Fire Alarms

Does Anyone Ever Return to Make It Look Good?

Once a fire alarm system works, and has been accepted by the fire marshal, the installation stays neat, or it stays messy. When everything works, there's no reason to come back to neaten-up the installation.

The insides of a fire alarm panel, with all it's mess showing.
Sometimes it's difficult to see how to make the fire panel look good on the inside, and it seems the insides don't really show most of the time. But it really is your work.

Servicing, by the way, is a nightmare when the wires can't even be moved without breaking connections.


By Douglas Krantz

My father-in-law once told me "Make it purdy the first time; you'll always come back to make it work, you'll never come back to make it look good."

Seems like this was pretty good advice, but many installers don't think about why they should take the extra time to make the panel look good. Isn't the fact that the Fire Alarm System works good enough?

Will the Customer Think It's Good?

You're a professional.

Step back and look at the wiring, especially inside the panel, the way the customer is going to look at it. Does it look like a professional wired the fire alarm system?

Usually the customer doesn't know how the fire alarm system works, but does know how neat wiring is supposed to look.

A well organized fire panel
Looks neat, even with lots of wires. The layout, though, was planned out before any wires were landed on their connector.

Customers Want Neat Jobs

Dressing the wires to make the wiring look good doesn't take much more time; it takes practice.

If the panel wiring is going to have a professional look to it, one has to decide, before landing the first wire, that a professional did the wiring. There has to be a plan, an overall idea as to what the wiringis going to look like. That way the wires can be roughed out as they are landed on the connectors; the way they are going to live forever inside the panel.

(Remember, you'll never come back to make it look good.)

The Customer is Paying
for It

Remember, the customer (the one paying the bills, and presumably your future salary) is going to see this. Does that customer decide to stay with your company, or go on to someone else for service? How good the panel looks will have at least some influence on that decision.

Maybe the customer doesn't recognize the difference between good work and bad work, but can you count on that?

Neatness Counts

To some, good looks is synonymous with being installed well. Doing a good, neat installation may not seem to be important now, but later it will become important. Do your installation purdy, now, while you have the chance.
Based on his electronics training, and his understanding of Life Safety, Douglas Krantz has compiled his knowledge of Conventional Fire Alarm Systems into the book Make It Work - Conventional Fire Alarms. The book covers the basics of the Conventional Fire Alarm System, and shows how Life Safety and internal supervision affects the fire alarm system.

Douglas Krantz -- Fire Alarm Engineering Technician, Electronic Designer, Electronic Technician, Writer

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