The iPad can be an incredibly useful tool for fire inspections and fire testing, but it requires some customization first. Through experimentation, collaboration, and experience with the iPad, we have unlocked more of the device’s potential. For fire alarm and sprinkler walkthroughs, Numbers and Bluebeam have proven to be a great combination for some of our fire protection consultants. These apps were not made expressly for our work, so we have developed our own streamlined system. As a result, we’ve improved our communication and coordination.

Expedited Inspections and Testing with Bluebeam

Before we started using the iPad, walking through a 500,000 square-foot test site would take roughly four hours. If we found a problem while touring a facility, we would set down our documentation, take pictures, and jot down notes with pen and paper. The notes needed to describe the problem we found, and they also needed to describe the location. Additionally, the process was tiresome for designers and architects, who would need to pull out their own drawings in order to locate the devices in question.

Bluebeam may be an inexpensive PDF-markup app, but it has greatly simplified that process for us. We take a picture of the deficiency, add it to the document with Bluebeam, and the picture pops up on a PDF of the contractor’s shop drawing. We are able to move the picture and shift the orientation to approximate the original shop drawings. We add an annotation, such as: “Sprinklers in this location are obstructed by a light,” and the process is complete.

Within a couple of minutes, we can move on. When we upload our annotated PDF and send it to our client, the location pops up with the picture and notes. Our clients know exactly what the deficiency is, where it is located, and what it looks like within seconds.

As we experiment with apps, spreadsheets, and documentation, we reduce the amount of work for everyone – from our contractors to our clients.

By Jeff Harrington, CEO and Founder of Harrington Group, Inc.