Alarm programs that offer free alarms and subsidize installation are growing more common in communities across the United States, involving local governments and utilities in the installation process. It’s important for every alarm installer to be aware of any of alarm programs in their area – and how they can get involved to help further their brand and earn more business.

The NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) even has a guide for starting these kinds of programs, but it doesn’t say much about alarm installation companies or how they can benefit from outreach. Our FAQ is designed to discuss that aspect more directly, with some suggestions on what you should do!

What is an Alarm Installation Program?

These are programs, usually created and led by government bodies like city councils or state legislature, that offer free alarms and installation services for homeowners. These programs usually focus on fire/smoke alarms, and specifically reach out to low-income communities and homeowners that may not have thought about their fire alarms or getting replacements. This helps cities and states make sure that a growing number of local buildings meet building code and fire safety regulations, as well as protecting their citizens.

Where are These Programs Offered?

Typically, cities will try to concentrate efforts on lower-income areas and neighborhoods with older houses that may not have fire alarms or may have alarms that are out of date and need to be replaced. Advertising for these programs is typically found in local papers, flyers, and social media so that homeowners know what to do to get their free alarm.

For states, programs are obviously offered at a larger scale, but even states will typically try to focus on certain counties and cities where new alarms are more likely to be needed.

Who Conducts These Programs?

This can vary from program to program. As we mentioned they are usually organized by city councils or equivalent organizations. However, they are often directly administered by local fire departments or health and safety organizations, which oversee handing out alarms, arranging installations, and other details.

Other local organizations may also get involved depending on how the program is handled. Services for the elderly, religious organizations, and contractor unions may all be involved.

Large nonprofits may also offer a hand with their own versions of fire alarm programs. The American Red Cross, for example, offered free smoke alarm installations for a limited number of states in conjunction with fire departments. But these aren’t necessarily affiliated with any locally targeted programs.

Can Alarm Installation Companies Profit from These Programs?

Direct profit from these types of programs is usually rare for alarm installation companies. However, you can certainly investigate these types of efforts and see if there are any government contracts available for offering your installation services! This could be a possibility, especially if you get involved early in the planning process. While there’s no opportunity to get payment from homeowners here – that would necessarily ruin the point of the outreach – there are additional options that can easily help grow your brand and be of great help to the program at the same time. We suggest looking into things like:

Volunteer installation services: The program may be looking for experienced installers to help properly place free alarms in the right homes. This is an excellent way to increase visibility, improve relations with local organizations, and even get a chance at full government contracts in the future. See what the plans are for installation and let the planning committees know you are interested if possible.

  • Volunteer products or supervision: Even if installation is already taken care of, check to see if you could possibly donate products, installation supervision, or other services to help the program. Remember, alarms may be only part of what is needed: Power tools, ladders, wiring, and other equipment could also benefit the program!
  • Helping with marketing efforts: See if there are marketing materials you can use to spread the word among your own customers. It always looks good for a brand to be involved in a nonprofit outreach.
  • Offer special installations when services are longer available: Sometimes these alarm installation programs run into problems. Particularly during COVID-19, organizations are refusing to do in-home installations, while still allowing for free alarm pickup. Your business may be able to step in and – with the proper safety measures – offer to take care of installation in these instances.
  • Give employees a way to give back to their communities: Even if the business can’t get directly involved, you may still want to encourage employees to volunteer for this type of outreach!

Are There Any Liability Concerns Involved?

Fire departments have already asked this question, and it does not appear that there are any liability issues if the installation is done according to instruction. However, this is another reason why these programs may be interested in getting experienced and licensed help.

Who Should I Contact to Learn More?

Finally, to get started, contact local governments and your fire department to see about these programs, any future plans, and what your business can do to help. If you are part of a local union, ask them about alarm installation programs as well. Remember that these programs will have specific requirements for the types of alarms and their installation, so make sure you understand local laws before you begin.