Fairview Township resident Pete Kohl now runs the business that his father, Charles started in 1964. A full time installer for Bell Telephone Company (now Verizon), Charles began installing electric smoke detectors for neighbors, family and friends after two of his cousins were killed in a fire. The new electric alarms ran on the electricity in the home and only needed a battery for a backup, eliminating the human error of not replacing or installing batteries in the devices regularly.
Fire alarms were only the start of what became a thriving business, although C-K Alarm Systems remained a part time enterprise until Pete took the business over in 1984; eight years after graduating from Crestwood High School and Wilkes-Barre Area Vo-Tech for electrical work. He had been involved in the co-op program which had him in school half the day and going right to work running service calls and doing installations the other half. He jokes that he had started working with his dad when he was only seven years old because he was the only one small enough to fit in some attic spaces.
“I still remember sitting on my dad’s work bench while he would work on alarm panels and explain how they operated,” says Pete.
But that experience didn’t mean that Pete was immediately ready to take over. He spent those first eight years after graduation as a police officer. When he did concentrate on C-K Alarms full time, however, business boomed. Over the years the business expanded to include all manner of security systems that included heat detection, smoke detection, closed circuit TV cameras, card access systems and security and fire alarms for commercial and industrial use as well. Pete says his experience as a police officer, and his longtime experience as Chief of Mountaintop Hose Company has been invaluable in his awareness of the different needs of the community when it comes to alarm systems.
“I understand where things are best installed,” explains Pete. “As a police officer I investigated a lot of burglaries that probably wouldn’t have occurred if there had been a security system and at least two instances where lives could have been saved if they had had fire detection. “
One would think that after all the years of awareness campaigns, giveaways and stories of unnecessary deaths by fire, Pete relates that not everyone has gotten the message of how important smoke detectors or heat detectors are in a home.
“It is still very common where people do not have them installed or have taken the batteries out because of the annoying beep but then not replaced them. It is why the electrical system is better,” says Pete.
In this 50th year of business, C-K Alarm Systems has grown to over 2000 customers from southern New York state and as far south as Virginia, and from Atlantic City to Pittsburgh. They are currently the oldest privately owned security
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