BuyFireAlarmParts Q&A Topic

Hi guys! I’m Todd, the owner of Buy Fire Alarm Parts. I stumbled across this conversation and hope you don’t mind if I jump in and answer some questions.

I started my company in my partnership with my father about 5 years ago when the economy took a crap and I lost my job as a fire alarm salesman. I was going out of my mind from being unemployed so I gave this a shot. We currently employ over 10 people and operate out of a two story brick building in the heart of Davie’s Western district.

Every panel we purchase from these sources that is not in a sealed factory box is tested, checked and tagged before it leaves our facility. Any panel that does not test out perfect is sent to our repair department, where it is fixed and tested again. Our repair department consists of a electronics engineer who performed quality control for the Navy, and a trained and certified fire alarm technician (my buddy who lost his job around the same time I lost mine).

Unfortunately, as mentioned, sometimes electronics fail. Our customers are primarily fire alarm companies and building owners (that contract fire alarm companies). We sell panels, and we test them, and after they are installed in the field they are required to be certified (NFPA72 Chapter 7) by a licensed fire alarm company. If our customers have any trouble, we ship them out a replacement right away, typically via Next Day Air.

We’re available from 8am to 8pm est, and I have a really friendly sales staff to answer your questions. One of the cool things I have done, is set up the Kayako Help desk system on our site, and I picked up the version with all the bells and whistles and tied it in with our phone system. When a customer calls, a screen pops up on the sales rep’s screen that shows all of their purchases, help tickets, chats, and phone calls. This enables the sales rep to start helping you right away instead of asking you for your information or looking up your account.

In order to pay for all these salaries, parts, and overhead I need to be a profitable company. I do this buy buying things for cheaper than I sell them. It’s true that I may buy a panel for $100 and sell it for $1000, but after I receive that panel I have to test it, repair it, clean it up, take a picture of it, create a description and listing, package it to UPS standards, advertise it, and provide sales and customer support. After all that, what is left is profit, and that is how I keep my doors open. That is good old American Capitalism boys.

We purchase fire alarm equipment from a variety of sources, sometimes ebay, distributors, and wholesale purchases. There seems to be some upset about the fact that I buy things on ebay. Everything I do is on the up and up, and I am putting money into the fire alarm market there. Is it just because you lost an auction to me on ebay? I hate when that happens too. Is there anything more?

I’ll keep an eye on this thread, and I’ll try and answer any questions you post here. I’m going to reply to some of the more obvious ones right now.

What are you talking about? I buy all sorts of things, and I sell all sorts of things. If I list something as used, it’s used. If I list something as new, it is new. If that isn’t correct, I’ll fix it or give you your money back. That’s my warranty that is posted all over my website. I consider myself an honest guy, so can you tell me what I have said that isn’t true?

I’m confused too. We usually sell AFP-200’s for $1800.

The 4001 Panels are super hard to get. The processor chip that runs that panel isn’t made any more so if the chip dies on the panel, it’s toast and can’t be repaired. I buy them up whenever I see them, but if they need repair, I probably just wasted my money. Since they are so rare and we don’t see any more in our future, we raised the price to $1000. Supply and Demand at work.

The page you linked states that is new. So if you purchase it from that page you’ll be receiving a new in the box product.

I really don’t compete with companies like ADI or Total Computing on signals, since I buy them from a similar source for similar prices. It’s not my market, I don’t really like selling horns and strobes unless they are rare or hard to find. They take up alot of room, and I don’t like the margins on them. I’m sure there are better prices on signals out there.

Just for curiosity, how often do you get sales on these spare 4001 parts?

As far as downtime goes, putting in a new panel seems faster, so…

Also a question about your signals, why do you resell pre-ADA signals that are no longer code compliant? I could understand if someone had an exotic voltage and couldn’t use a modern signal, but why if you can just replace the old signal with a modern one?

A System Sensor P2W is not a rare horn... ..You say you only like to stock rare or hard to find horns?
Why are you going to list items much more then there MSRP from the manufacture? Thats not right....

Not very often. On average, probably about one every 6 months.

You would think so, but you need to pull a permit to install a different panel. That means blueprints, calcs, plan review and inspections. It also means they might decide you need to pull a life safety permit as well. The next thing you know you are installing a handicap ramp and an ADA bathroom,or even an elevator. Building owners are typically grandfathered in until they pull a permit, so there is a definite advantage towards repairing the panel. This is why a 15 year old hard to find panel is worth as much or more than a new one.

There is a few reasons why a building owner or fire alarm company may want to install a pre-ADA signal on a pre-ADA system. The usual reason is power. ADA devices have alot more power draw than the old ivory lens type. Putting in the same signal that is existing prevents the problem of too much power draw.

Another reason is aesthetics. Owners want the same appearance for all the signals in their building, and it is important to some of them that their signals aren’t mismatched.

Yes, that is true. If I liked to stock them, I would devote much of my inventory space to them, and price them to move. I don’t do that, however. I stock some common signals so that someone who needs one can tack it on to their order. I don’t price them to compete with ADI or Total Computing, and I’m not trying to sell them in quantity.

Samson. You have called me a liar and hurled accusations at me since before I even arrived here, but have not afforded me the courtesy of explaining why. Did I wrong you in some way? I can’t defend or explain myself if I don’t know what the trouble is.

Codes must be different where you come from, because around here we replace old panels in buildings that seriously need ADA updates all the time. That’s where my questioning on the topic comes from.

Another curiosity question… I can understand buying up real rare panel components, but one person (who shall remain anonymous) alleges to having been beaten numerous times on very common panels still in production that are used and removed from a building. What do you do?

It is my understanding that when you replace a fire alarm panel with a different model or brand, that you are required to obtain a permit for that, and show new blueprints and battery calcs. Your results may vary.

I’m sorry, but I don’t understand this question.


I can understand buying up real rare panel components, but one person (who shall remain anonymous) alleges to having been beaten numerous times on very common panels still in production that are used and removed from a building.

My question was, why do you also like to snag the very common panels still in production and re-sell them (used?) for more than if someone were to get one directly from a distributor or the manufacturer?

Oh yeah and for the record, this is good. I like this.

Todd, I like how you are responding to our questions and clearing up these misconceptions.

I apologize for not giving you the formal welcome so here it is.

A panel may still be in production but that doesn’t mean it is readily available. My potential customer in this case may be the alarm company who doesn’t want to call his competitor to service one of his own accounts. We’re a much friendlier alternative.


True, that’s good for the “Authorized ESD” brands like Notifier and Gamewell-FCI but the “Open” brands like Fire-Lite or Potter – we can get those easily off ADI if needed.


I do apologize for calling you a liar and all… …But on your site you say that you do NOT buy used equipment unless its a panel… (See pic)


In other news, I like how you a clearing up what we are saying, thanks for doing that.

Sometimes I buy stuff because I want to have them on the shelf and in stock. We do business with some service departments that count on us having the parts they need to support their customers. I like having a wide range of inventory in order to do this.

Having a wide inventory is also a good thing for marketing. Every time someone is looking for a fire alarm part and finds us for the first time, we have a chance to make a lifetime customer. However, if we don’t have the part they are looking for, Google is much less likely to lead them to our door.

Thank you for saying that.

Nooooo, you were doing so good! Okay, let’s hear it…

Yes. That is the Sell Your Parts form on our website. I receive at least a dozen submissions on that form every day. I got even more before I started listing what I wanted to buy and what I wanted to pass on. I actually hired a new salesperson just to coordinate with the people who fill out that form.

I generally don’t sell used devices. You might find some on my site here and there, but generally most devices I sell are new (and appropriately marked!) So for me to entertain buying used devices is a huge waste of time for me. I don’t want them. So, I put on my form that I don’t buy them. That saves you the time trying to sell me something that I am not interested in, and it saves me the time of having to tell people no thanks.

Now, you seem to be greatly offended that our (private?) ebay account purchased a used pull station from you. I have to disagree that I did anything wrong or disreputable in doing so, but I will do my best not to purchase anything from you in the future. My apologies.

Thank you for clearing that up, in fact to show my apology i would like to give you 10% off my eBay store.

I will send you a PM with the discount code.

Thanks again for clearing it up.

Todd, welcome to the site, and I’m sorry you had to be greeted by such an interrogation.

Guys, I hope this serves as an example of how hurling baseless accusations and misinformation isn’t taken lightly, even on the internet. We’re hobbyists, but everything that gets posted on this site can turn up with a Google search and has the potential to be very misleading. There aren’t many fire alarm communities out there, and ours is frequented by prospective customers of Todd’s, life safety technicians, even industry leaders. PLEASE put some thought into what you say before making absolute statements. Going forward, it might be a good idea to make this forum private like DFA. If nothing else, let’s trash this thread after the discussion has died down.

Those who are complaining because Todd outbid them on eBay or bought used stuff from their store are giving hobbyists a bad name. Keep in mind, Todd has extended more than enough courtesy to collectors. When he first joined DFA, he offered everyone a discount on his store and sold $10 mystery boxes loaded with alarm goodies. The industry doesn’t owe squat to collectors, so the fact that he is even indulging our questions should be greatly appreciated.