Florida State Fire & Security Inc. of Davie, Fla., upgrades and installs access control and CCTV sys

These days in South Florida, you might notice police officers flashing a badge of a different kind. If officers don’t want to be pulled over in the halls of their own police stations, they’d better have a current video ID badge in their possession. If they don’t, they’ll have to surrender to a higher authority: security personnel.

Seven Florida police departments, including Hollywood, Coral Gables, Coral Springs, Cooper City, Palm Beach Gardens, South Miami and the Village of Indian Creek, have chosen to install software-based access control and CCTV to monitor entries/exits to holding cell areas, sally ports and administrative offices.

At the forefront of these installations is Florida State Fire & Security Inc. (FSFS), a 10-year-old installing company that has captured a niche market for itself by designing, installing and upgrading access control and CCTV systems for clients whose No. 1 priority is to serve and protect citizens.

What is FSFS’ secret to winning police department contracts? Networking, designing for future expansion and providing exceptional customer service have helped the company to nab jobs for the past two years.

Hollywood Police Department Books FSFS

In October 1998, FSFS won its first police department installation in the city of Hollywood, Fla.; however, the company did not capture the contract immediately. It required about two years of persistent negotiating before the company got the green light.
Steve Wolk, vice president of FSFS, says his company had been doing fire alarm work for the police department two years prior to learning about the project.

Once the Hollywood Police Department acquired the funds to begin the renovation process on its facility, police officials hired a general contractor to take on the project. The general contractor, in turn, put the entire system out to bid to electrical contractors. Wolk admits it helped FSFS to be listed on the specifications, something he recommends installing companies do to gain a competitive edge.

Once the paperwork was finalized, FSFS began work on the project about three months later. The Hollywood installation consisted of 49 proximity readers to start. With only a few existing cameras, the clients opted not to expand the CCTV system on this particular project.

Police officials relied on the installing company’s expertise when it came to designing the system. Because virtually anyone could walk into the lobby area and beyond, the clients knew they wanted an access control system to monitor holding cells, squad rooms, sally ports and a pistol range that connected to the main building.

FSFS technicians placed a proximity reader close to every single door in the facility, because most of the spaces behind the lobby areas were secured areas. With the video badging system, the clients could customize it to accommodate whomever they wanted. Wolk contends video badging was an essential part of accomplishing the police department’s security objectives.

Schedule, Design Changes Demand Flexibility

The fact that the Hollywood Police Department was renovating its four-story facility proved to be very challenging for FSFS technicians, especially when coordinating project schedules with the other contractors. Wolk admits working with other contractors became a trade-off. Once the access control application was completed, FSFS began working on Hollywood Police Department’s CCTV system.

Coral Gables Upgrades Emergency Disaster Center

With one police station now under its belt, FSFS was ready to take on a new venture. In December 1998, it earned an installation contract with the city of Coral Gables, Fla. The police department had an existing Software House system, which was installed about four years ago. However, the police department experienced ongoing problems.

Out of a half-dozen dealers based in the area, only FSFS and the dealer who installed the initial system specialized in the Software House system. The bid eventually went in favor of FSFS. Eight buildings in the city were tied into the main system. The camera systems throughout Coral Gables were homerun back to the police department.

Palm Beach Gardens Is Open-and-Shut Case

The Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., project was another request-for-proposal bid. The police department was in the process of building a new structure. The 67-page RFP was based on a point system. The system encompassed 26 readers, video badging and 14 pan/tilt/zoom cameras with three domes.

South Miami Job Is Small, Yet Profitable to FSFS

Sometimes, the smaller jobs can lead to future work for a security company. In 1998, the South Miami Police Department contracted with the system integrator to perform a Y2K upgrade on its existing system.

Access Control System Bans Outsiders From Private Island

In September 1999, FSFS garnered one of its more ambitious high-end contracts, the Village of Indian Creek. This private, exclusive island is located in Miami Beach. About 39 homes are located on the island, which has celebrities and high-profile business people as its primary residents.

FSFS Becomes a Wanted Security Company

With seven police department projects to its credit, FSFS has certainly created a niche for itself. The various jobs have led to several referrals. However, Wolk maintains that just because the company has been doing a lot of police department work, doesn’t guarantee FSFS will get every job it goes after. In fact, some police department installations they didn’t get were located right in the company’s backyard.

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