Contractor Issues | TechNotes

By Jeni Pierce

Contractor Issues: It’s not me, or is it?

The fire sprinkler industry, much like relationships, has its fair share of challenges. Whether you’re embarking on a large new construction project or performing routine inspection, testing and maintenance (ITM), it’s essential to anticipate and address these issues head-on. So, let’s explore some common construction woes and potential solutions.

Poor Communication

Construction involves copious amounts of paperwork—contracts, staffing, insurance certificates, and material orders. Handling this efficiently can be challenging. Unforeseen conditions (product delays, failed inspections, or staffing) can wreak havoc on budgets. Miscommunication between stakeholders—contractors, architects, clients and the local AHJ—can lead to misunderstandings and project delays.

Establish clear channels of communication. Regularly update all parties on progress, changes, and challenges. Ensure that you are familiar with all local rules and regulations to avoid frustration as the project moves to completion. Using specific code or standard references, when possible, can help to maintain clear and concise intentions from all parties.


The construction industry tends to lag in adopting new technologies. Budget and staffing constraints often hinder the implementation of cutting-edge tools. Additionally, new technologies such as computer-based reporting have led to many companies having to quickly reassign or hire new staff to accommodate mandatory reporting.

Embrace technology! Consider integrating real-time data collection, drone surveillance to monitor large projects, virtual reality for visualizing designs or wearable devices to enhance safety and efficiency. Go digital and explore document management systems that categorize, track due dates, and streamline communication. A paperless approach reduces errors and speeds up processes.


Picture of construction during Covid-19Industry-wide there seems to be a lag in bringing in a new wave of qualified workers. Staffing shortages often lead to overworked team members, frustration, and injury. Proper training can also become difficult when you are in a rush to get people out into the field and onto the jobsite.

Work closely with your local resources- vocational schools, high schools, and community partners to advertise or draw in new recruits. Utilize community activities and job fairs to bring awareness to the fire protection industry. Host a side-by-side burn demonstration at a community event and show the importance of fire sprinklers.

Take the Hard Look

Taking a look at internal processes may reveal that the issue is you. While you may realize a misstep on your end, it is always a good idea to meet the challenge head on to avoid future fees, delays or strained relationships. If you have a field employee who continues to make the same mistake or a local AHJ that you continue to struggle with during plan review, refer back to clear communication. Proper education for both sides may be the solution that keeps your business on track. Keeping up with the latest technology, legislative issues and local requirements is the key to not only maintaining a competitive edge, but also maintaining professional connections.

Remember, addressing issues requires teamwork, transparency, and adaptability. So, whether it’s a faulty materials order or a blueprint mix-up, tackle it head-on. After all, in construction (and relationships), it’s not about blame—it’s about finding solutions!

Looking to Learn More About Issues in the Fire Sprinkler Industry? Register for a Tech Tuesday!

NFSA members have access to free Tech Tuesday webinars. These webinars are offered monthly and are good for 1 CEU each. Topics include contractor issues with staffing and communication, lithium-ion, historic fires, and more! For more information, or to register for a Tech Tuesday webinar, visit our event calendar.