GE’s new center accelerates pace

Friday, August 1, 2008

BRADENTON, Fla.--Getting fire and life safety products to market more quickly is one of the benefits GE expects from its new Fire Detection Research Center, which celebrated its grand opening July 1.

GE spent more than $500,000 on the center, which is located here at GE Security’s headquarters. It will be used for the development and testing of fire detection technologies, and it enables GE for the first time to conduct preliminary testing of products on site here.

“We can replicate [what testing laboratories in Chicago and London do]. We no longer have to go [offsite to] do a trial burn to test the products, but we’ll still have to [go to those labs to] get certification,” explained Howard Sykes, CTO-Fire for GE Security.

This will save time and money as well as “accelerate getting the products to market.”

Product R&D and testing conducted here will include residential and commercial fire, smoke, heat and gas detectors and sensors for the North American and markets elsewhere.

About 240 people work in the Bradenton headquarters, 70 of whom are involved in fire.

Work here is done in cooperation with the GE Global Research Center in Niskayuna, N.Y. (search “GE tests next-gen smoke alarms” at for more on that center) as well as with GE R&D facilities in Munich, Germany; Shanghai, China; and Bangalore, India.Sykes said GE would be able to test its newly developed products “side by side” with other GE products and “potential competitors” as well.

Sykes said GE’s fire R&D is focusing on “very early detection of fire, and false alarm immunity.” In addition, “two goals we have are to look at how to lower the profile of the current detector … so it doesn’t protrude so far into the room[for aesthetic reasons] and ways to make it easier for the integrator to install devices,” he added.