Here are some questions that I get asked commonly:
Q. Are you a fire alarm technician?
A: No, I don't do fire alarms professionally. I'm just a collector.
Q. How/why did you get into this hobby?
A: I honestly don't know why! Unlike many fellow collectors, I can't really point to a single event or experience that spawned my interest. As a little kid, I was very observant of material objects around me and was particularly fascinated by anything electrical that made noise or had some degree of "cause and effect". Alongside the usual toys that every kid has, I had a trunk filled with light fixtures, security system parts, smoke detectors, doorbells, intercoms, telephones, PA speakers, and other random electrical items that my father (who was a general contractor) would bring home for me to mess around with. Coupled with my mild OCD and a family history of collectors, I felt the need to constantly have more. As I got older, the "obsessive" interests gave way to music and computers, but I suppose the amateur electrician inside of me wasn't quite done yet. Around 2003, I stumbled across The Schumin Web community while researching which security system to possibly install in our house. I was amazed that there were other crazy kids out there like me who were interested in this stuff! Although I didn't know much about fire alarms, the root of the interest was the same as mine. I bought a pull station on eBay just for the heck of it and began to recognize the models of devices everywhere. I didn't plan on starting a collection and lost interest pretty quickly, but my attention was recaptured again in 2008 when I was given a box of alarms that were uninstalled from a local hospital. I rejoined The Schumin Web, started a YouTube channel, and it exploded from there.
Q: Do you have anything for sale?
A: The alarms shown on this site aren't for sale. However, from time to time, there will be alarms for sale on my eBay page. I'm not a dealer, though. Most of the items I sell are used, obsolete, and intended for collectors, though I do occaisonally sell new-in-box or NOS items.
Q: Where can I find fire alarms?
A: The best place is eBay. There's a lot of overpriced stuff, but if you dig around and keep looking, you can find some fantastic deals. I've gotten about half of my collection this way. Also, alarms and panels will sometimes show up on Craigslist. The rest of my collection was gained through asking the right people politely. For example, I got over 30 unique alarms through an electrician I knew who worked at a large hospital. You can also find abandoned buildings or demolition sites and inquire about salvaging the alarms. I don't recommend stealing alarms, though. If caught, it could land you with a felony charge of trespassing, theft, and (if the system is powered) tampering with life safety equipment. Remember, it never hurts to ask!
Q: Can you give me some alarms for free?
A: Sorry, but no!
Q: I acquired a fire alarm and would like to know how much it's worth.
A: I'd be happy to give you an estimation or appraisal, but you may be disappointed! The demand for used fire alarms and new equipment sold outside the dealer-client ecosystem is relatively low, so the "going rate" is only whatever an individual is willing to pay for an item at that particular time. A lot of items go unsold. When in doubt, price it as low as you're willing to go on eBay and let the bidders define the value.
Q: I acquired a fire alarm. Would you be interested in buying?
A: Maybe! I always have an eye out for good deals on devices that attract my attention. Feel free to give me your best pitch on my contact page, but keep in mind what was mentioned above regarding the worth of fire alarms.
Q: I am a hobbyist. Can you help me with ______________?
A: Sure! Just shoot me an email on my contact page.
Q: I am a building owner/facilities manager/employee/handyman/random person and I need help with a malfunctioning fire alarm system in my building.
A: Please read the disclaimer on my contact page.
Q: I need the manual for a ______________ panel.
A: Chances are I have it. Check the Files database for hard-to-find manuals, catalogs, and programming software. Because most of the information is copyrighted, proprietary, and confidential, it can't be publically displayed and is only available to registered users. Registration is free and won't put you on any mailing lists.
Q: I registered an account on your site and it didn't work.
A: That's most likely because I haven't activated it yet. I personally screen all accounts before activation, so allow a day or two for me to get to your registration. If you're still having problems, feel free to contact me.
Q: Can you make a video of _____________?
A: I don't do a lot of requests, but I might if it's something I haven't already made a video of. Feel free to ask!
Q: I want to talk to people who are also interested in alarms. Where can I go?
A: Here are some popular fire alarm sites:
http://www.thefirepanel.com (for hobbyists - I'm a moderator here)
http://www.davidsonfirealarms.com (for industry professionals - I'm also a moderator here)
http://www.firealarmsonline.com (lots of information, blogs, videos, NICET study DVD's for sale, etc)
https://www.facebook.com/groups/171489939626936/ (the Facebook group for the site above)
If you haven't already discovered it, there's also a thriving fire alarm community on YouTube. Here is my channel.
Q: Can I use your images on this website?
A: By all means! Under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License, you are free to share, remix, or make commercial use of any of my original work on this site as long as you attribute it to the author (just mention FireAlarmCollector.com or thesdx - no link nessecary) and share it under the same license if you choose to redistribute my work. The ownership of all non-original work is retained by its original author(s) and is protected by its respective copyright. Though I don't enforce it, all I ask is that you not use my images for eBay auctions since those should be of the actual product that the customer will receive. Permissions beyond the scope of this Creative Commons license may be granted upon individual request.