NFPA Product Report

By Jim Crockett, Editor-in-Chief June 23, 2006

One of the biggest buzzes on the show floor of NFPA’s recent World Safety Conference in Orlando was fire alarms panels, specifically, the effects of UL’s 9th edition to its fire alarm standard—UL 864.

“I know it’s been very critical for us,” said Jeff Hendrickson with Silent Knight . “Everything we’re showing is UL-compliant.”

For the record, the new UL requirements call for a number of improvements, including more stringent power supply testing, more battery monitoring and better synchronization with notification appliances.

FireLite saw the change as an opportunity to roll out a whole new line of products. According to the company’s Nick Martello, they started the process three years ago, and their panels are not just compliant, they’re UL-864-approved. Some of the new features of their MS 9050UD and MS-9200UDLS panels include a common enclosure, modular components and a chassis that features an easy-to-mount clipping system.

Elsewhere, SimplexGrinnell debuted its 4100U InfoAlarm command center, which, according to company representative Skip Vandeventer, offers users more information with simpler access. Perhaps its most notable feature is the bilingual library.

On an unrelated matter, Simplex also unveiled its learning resource center— —a website that encapsulates much of the company’s knowledge and also showcases its corporate road show events. “We want this to be a comprehensive repository that people view as the place to go for relevant information rather than spend their time searching the Internet,” said Michael Lohr, the manufacturer’s director of service marketing.

Gamewell/FCI displayed its E3 line with the focal point of new changes being its new graphic workstation. According to Gamewell’s John Weaver, the new interface brings up a visual of the particular alarming device, including a map indicating where the actual alarm is going off.

Notifier displayed an improved, 3-D version of its First Vision system that makes it even easier for firefighters to see what’s happening in an alarm situation. “That’s its real power,” said Notifier’s Jayson Kneen. “Say there’s a haz-mat situation. It not only shows where that’s happening in the building but also brings up an information box as to what’s there and some suggestions as to what to do, such as where the shut-off locations are.”

It also provides contacts for the people in the building; the number of building occupants; a site plan and even a list of the different alarms going off. The panel is currently installed in the new U.S. Capitol Visitor’s Center and at MontclairStateUniversity.

“Engineers who are trying to stay on the cutting edge really like this,” Kneen said. “And firefighters love it because the more information they have, the better decisions they can make.”

One notable panel-related development was from Honeywell’s Power Products startup. According to Gene Pecora, HPP’s general manager, Honeywell had been manufacturing power supplies on the fire side but wanted a power source for access control, video and intrusion detection. “We really wanted to take a systems approach to it,” said Pecora. “For years we had the supply for the fire panels, but nothing on the security side, even though we [Honeywell] made all these security products.”

Beyond just supplying power, Pecora said they tried to incorporate features that addressed user requests: more enough room for wiring, better diagnostics and easier-to-use functions. The new units—the HPF24S6 and the HPF2428 —can deliver six or eight amps, depending on the model, through four class-B or two class-A output circuits. It also comes with a quick-mounting expansion module.

Elsewhere, Siemens Building Technologies showed a 1,200-lb tank for its Sinorix fire-suppression line. “It’s the largest in the industry,” said Larry Grodsky with SBT. “One gentleman came by and hugged the tank, saying he wanted to bring it home with him,” noted Mary Mushala, also with SBT. One of its greatest benefits, according to SBT’s Kevin Murray, is that the bigger tank takes up less real estate, something critical in facilities such as data centers. It’s also easy to install and move because it comes with a footer that can be picked up with a pallet jack.

On the sprinkler side, Blazemaster , in conjunction with Tyco , unveiled a new mechanical cut and T clamp that should help in retrofit situations. “It’s literally a mechanical-T joint that taps into the CPVC pipe, and this really provides a great solution, as anything two inches or smaller can’t be joined with solvent,” said Matthew Kuwatch, the company’s global marketing manager.

Later this year, the company hopes to come out with a grooving tool for its CVPC sprinkler pipe.

A product that caught the eye of one ofour readers at the show, was a digital linear heat-detection cable from Safe Fire Detection, Monroe, N.C. The cable can be used for any type of fire panel and up to 10,000 ft. of wire per zone.

Elsewhere, a number of manufacturers touted improvements to existing products. For instance, Ansul/Tyco’s Sapphire (3M Novec 1230) clean-agent fire suppression system is now 50 times quicker than water, according to Joe Ziemba, product manager with Tyco Safety Products . A year ago, he reported it was only 25 times faster. The product, he added, is also now in some 1,800 installations.

System Sensor also presented their new SpectrAlert Advance audible/visible notification appliances. The devices feature a plug-in design with universal mounting plates that goes all the way to 185 candelas, with rotary switch for horn tones and volumes.