Minn. fire company wins sprinkler contracts worth more than $1.25m

About 25 percent of the business of Brothers Fire Protection, a complete life safety company, also comes from fire alarm and security work
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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

ELK RIVER, Minn.—Brothers Fire Protection, a complete life safety solutions company, in February announced it had won two big sprinkler jobs totaling more than $1.25 million—one at a student housing complex and one at an Air Force base.

Brothers started as a sprinkler company 20 years ago. “We added the alarm/security business in 2009,” company President Stephen Cieslukowski told Security Systems News. “The two businesses do complement each other well, and it allows us to offer complete life safety solutions to our customers from monitoring to alarms to fire to extinguishers and exit lights.”

The alarm/security side of the business grows each year, but sprinklers remain about 75 percent of Brothers’ business.

Based here, the company has annual revenues of $15 million and about 75 employees.

One of the projects is a fire sprinkler system for a 333-unit housing project near the University of Minnesota.

Cieslukowski told SSN that ground has been broken but the new building probably won’t be ready for Brothers Fire to do its install until late summer. The $1 million job will take the company about six to eight months to complete, he said.

One of the challenges Brothers faces in the job, he said, is that “it’s a very big job with a very limited footprint so there’s not a lot of places to store material. … You can’t just dump $300,000 of material on the job and say, ‘Oh, they’ll get to it when they get to it.’ You’ve got to be actively managing your field operations so you’re not slowing the manpower down and the material is arriving when the guys need it.”

One of the reasons that the general contractor, Frana Companies, selected Brothers for the job is that it has a lot of experience in the student housing market around the university, Cieslukowski said.

“We’ve probably done four of the six dorm projects there and probably seven of the 12 student housing projects in that area,” he said.

Cieslukowski said the contractor told Brothers: “A lot of people can do these smaller jobs, but we really like the fact that you can do large scale work.” The housing project also includes retail and commercial space on the first floor.

In addition to its work in Minnesota, Brothers does projects in the Dakotas, Iowa and Wisconsin and, since adding a new national accounts division a few years ago, has expanded as far as Omaha, Neb., Cieslukowski said.

The other project Brothers recently announced is at the Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota. Cieslukowski said it is worth more than $250,000.

“Brothers Fire Protection is highly qualified for this project due to its years of experience with airports and airfields in [the Minnesota cities of] Minneapolis, St. Paul, St. Cloud and Duluth. We have completed projects both with water-based sprinkler systems as well as foam-based fire suppression systems,” the company said in a news release.

The project is slated to begin March 17 with the demolition of the current sprinkler system in Building 758.