Why Include Maintenance as part of the Inspection Test Contract instead of as a T&M extra charge?

Published on June 10, 2019, by AFA Author

The owner or manager of a building is responsible for ensuring that its fire alarm system always works. But even high-quality fire alarm systems will fail sometimes. These failures may be discovered during the routine testing and inspection or by building personnel during their daily work or as a result of audible of visible notification from the system.

When failures are detected, corrective action must be taken to protect people and property, and to remain compliant with national, state and local codes. This usually takes the form of maintenance work to repair or replace portions of the fire alarm system. This maintenance work can be handled in one of two ways:

  • as a T&M charge for the work necessary to return the system to operation and regulatory compliance
  • as an integral part of the Inspection Test Contract to ensure the system continues to operate and remain compliant

Regardless which of these approaches is selected the building owner/manager has access to AFA’s highly trained technicians 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Maintenance as a T&M extra Charge

When fire alarm system maintenance is viewed as a T&M charge to replace or repair failed equipment, the building owner/manager may be faced with costs that were not included in the building budget. This is particularly true if the outage occurs outside of normal business hours and overtime charges are required.

These out-of-budget costs can also reflect poorly on the building owner/manager and are unexpected expenses which can be avoided.

The T&M approach is used by many companies in the industry and in some cases, it may be the cost-effective approach depending on the age of the alarm system and its components.

Maintenance as a fixed price portion of the Inspection Test Contract

This approach includes a fixed price component for maintenance in the Inspection Test Contract. This component covers all charges for replacement parts and labor for the devices included in the agreement. In this case, if the work is performed outside of normal business hours, the building owner/manager is billed only for the labor overtime differential.

When the maintenance component is included in the Inspection Test Contract the building owner/manager can include that cost in the annual building budget. Then, when an issue arises with the fire alarm system, it is covered by the agreement except for the overtime differential and there are no unpleasant surprises.

AFA offers this option to all its customers. Here’s what one of our customers says of the option:

"It’s extremely convenient to have parts and labor covered. I know exactly what my budget should be each year, allowing me to control my costs." - Diane L. Fields, NYC Portfolio Manager - Empire State Realty Trust


When the two options for dealing with maintenance costs of a fire alarm system are compared, the prudent and generally cost-effective approach is to include a fixed price maintenance component for the system in the Inspection Test Inspection Contract.

This decision has two major benefits:

  • No unpleasant maintenance surprises for devices included in the agreement
  • Maintenance parts and labor (excluding overtime premium) costs have been factored into the annual building budget

For more information on AFA’s fire alarm systems and services and how the inclusion of a fixed price maintenance component in your Inspection Test Contract will benefit you, contact AFA today.