Two questions. Is it fire alarm, or burglar alarm?. Second question, is you state you are a first timer, does that mean in the first timer in the electrical field, In which case I am all done here, or are you a first timer in alarms?
The biggest problem I see on existing fire jobs is that the paperwork was not kept up in the beginning, make sure to mark up all your prints with cable routes, splice points and detector addresses if using an addressable system. At the end of the job make a nice copy and leave it on site, it saves a lot of headaches further down the road. Fire work can be very simple if you take it one piece and one circuit at a time, when in doubt, rtfm.
Make sure the drawings jive with what the fire marshall wants. I see this alot on the commercial jobs I work on . The contract drawings are way different from the FM approved drawings. I just finished a fire alarm / security job. The approved fire alarm drawings had at least 25 LESS smoke detectors and 20 more strobes. I don't even start the fire alarm until I am handed a set of approved drawings. Which , by the way , in Maryland you must have a clean un marked on, signed by the Fire marshall,set of fire alarm drawings on site at all times.
As the EC I'm running pipe and wire and connecting all the remote devices. The equipment supplier, National Time and Signal, is installing the control panel programming the system, and getting all the approvals from the state (MI).
Like luckyshadow points out,make sure that the Fire Marshall is happy. I do most of my work in Virginia, but do some work in Maryland and DC. Be careful when working off drawings that have not been approved. An electrical engineer does not need a NICET certification for electrical permit drawings (if I am not mistaken), however what you send for approval to Fire and Rescue does require a NICET Level 5 just to be seen.
The drawings WILL CHANGE! A/V's will move and change candella ratings. Initiation devices will be added/deleted. If conduit is not specified for the entire system you might want to look at pulling FPL, FPLP, or FAMC instead of hard pipe, as this gives you the flexibility to easily set a box if something has to move, and cutting in an old work in the wall for changes.
Also, try to find the class of wiring that you need. If you are doing a Class A system, you can not t-tap and you have to pull a complete loop from the FACP back to the FACP. If it is a class B system you have more room for error with the initiating loop. You only have one home run, and not two. Make sure that the signal loop is in series! If not, it will not work. Data (depending on class can be in parallel), but signal must be in series.
As my last little bit, what is it going to cost you to install the system and what will it cost to sub it out? There is a fine line there. If you have green help pull the cable and they do it correctly what will it cost for the device install and programming? If you have green help pull and they F-up, what will it cost to troubleshoot and repair? Good luck!
I would try and never "T" tap in a fire alarm system. Too much room for error, I always pull my fire alarms with out splices. May take a little longer but it saves in not having bad splices. Only place you can have a ground fault is at the devices. I always mark my wires in such a way that I can tell if it's an "in" or an "out", Then I mark up my drawings that show how the wire is ran, marking the devices with numbers or letters in order. If you have end of line resistors in the field make sure to mark their location. I will take a sharpie and write eol on the device that contains the resistor. Its all about making it easy to install AND trouble shoot. I will have all my devices installed , and the wiring rang out and any shorts corrected before I have the Fire Alarm tech come out to start his part.If you mark the drawings with the way the wire is pulled trouble shooting becomes a Breeze. Another good point is try and have your fire alarm company come out and go over what they want and could suggest. Like a consultation. Try and have your questions ready to "pick" their brain. The first system I ever did in my life , I went in totally "blind" without a clue. I had the tech come out to the site and go over things and I had a written list of questions for him. He gave me a wealth of knowledge on the system. They get easier the more you do.
edited to add the last paragraph
[This message has been edited by luckyshadow (edited 09-02-2005).]