A.F.S. breaks into U.S. market

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Saturday, August 1, 2009

HOPKINTON, Mass.--As an independent fire manufacturer that is using ETL exclusively for listing to UL standards, Advanced Fire Systems is breaking the mold, in some ways.

Most of the fire manufacturing business in the United States is dominated by large companies like Honeywell and GE, and most of the testing for UL listing is done by UL itself. However, according to Ray Krickmier, VP of sales for Advanced Fire Systems and former VP of sales at Fire-Lite, there’s room in the market for smaller, independent manufacturers.

“Breaking into the U.S., one of the largest fire markets in the world, and the opportunity to bring our technology to the U.S. market is what’s driving our business,” said Krickmier. He said he had a lot of interest from dealers at the June 8-11 NFPA show.

Advanced Fire Systems entered the U.S. market last year. Its parent company, Advanced Electronics, is based in the U.K. and its products are sold in 48 countries around the world. It opened up operations in the States, and began adopting Advanced Electronics’ fire panel to U.S. standards, a couple years ago. In July of 2008, it received UL ninth edition listing through ETL.

ETL is capable of testing for UL standards and has made a big push in the past year to move into the security and fire market. There’s been some concern among fire installers that there would be some problems with AHJs - many of whom are less familiar with ETL than with UL - accepting the ETL listing. Krickmeir said there’ve been no problems with AHJs and acceptance. “There was an issue in Rhode Island, but we met with the fire marshal and we’ve not had any problems there. And Rhode Island is a tough state,” he said. ETL has been timely with its testing, he said. “They give you a date and a price and they meet their commitment.”There is a small manufacturing plant in Hopkinton, but for right now, Advanced Fire’s AX line of products arrive fully assembled from the U.K. The company is “investing heavily in R&D” and Krickmier said it’s able to take advantage of its experience in IP technology.