Code change sparks interest in axonX

SSN Staff  - 
Friday, September 1, 2006

SPARKS, Md.--Foot traffic through axonX's booth at the National Fire Protection Association World Safety Conference increased considerably once an NFPA technical committee voted to include language about video image smoke and flame detection equipment, known as VID, in NFPA 72.
AxonX, based here, is one of very few companies in this line of business. It develops fire detection hardware and software. Its signature product, Signifire, uses algorithms to analyze live video images, obtained by a standard security surveillance system, to detect fire and smoke.
Mac Mottley, president of axonX said, "We had a ton of people coming through our booth after the [technical committee] meeting."
The committee voted to include two new sections about video smoke detection and video flame detection in the 2007 edition of NFPA 72, which will be released at the end of this month or early October.
The language says the technology will need to be listed and must meet a set of performance-based requirements.
Lee Richardson, senior electrical engineer for NFPA, called this a "big first step" for VID companies. "Personally, I look at this as a beginning. It's still in the process and the equipment still needs some development and refinement before it becomes something more commonplace," he said.
Richardson said the technology may be well suited to some specific applications, but predicted that the technology "will probably not take the place of traditional smoke detection in most applications."
AxonX executives, on the other hand, said they're well on their way to meeting NFPA's requirements.
"We will be FM [Factory Mutual] listed in a couple of months. We've passed the first round of tests and they'll be coming up in a month to do a company audit," Mottley said.
FM listing is the preferred listing for government, industrial and big commercial end users.
Mottley said he plans to get the network camera UL listed, pending some finalization of design and testing, within six months to a year.
AxonX received a $2 million cash infusion from Johnson Controls late last year.
It has five installations currently underway or soon to be completed for the University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital, the JCI corporate headquarters and jet hangar, a Canadian pulp and paper mill, a uranium processing plant, the Emerging Technology Center in Baltimore, and the Navy's Fire Test Ship, the USS Shadwell in Mobile, Ala., Mottley said.
Andy Lynch, manager of technical services for axonX, noted that the company is working on two projects with the NFPA's Fire Protection Research Foundation, the branch of the NFPA that conducts tests to assist in the code-making process.
One of the projects will look at the new requirement that VID systems be installed using a performance-based design.
"In most real-world applications, and not taking the codes into consideration, these systems could be installed using simple calculations and do not need the detailed analysis of a performance based design.
"However, this has to be demonstrated and adapted to the code before this simplified approach can be adopted. This test series should accomplish that," Lynch explained.