GE iO: Intelligent fire for all

Saturday, November 1, 2008

BRADENTON, Fla.--With the message that intelligent fire technology is not just for big-budget, large applications, GE Security on Sept. 15 introduced its new iO-Series, designed specifically for smaller buildings.

The system includes control panels, intelligent detectors, control modules and signaling devices built using technology from GE’s Signature Series. This means that, for example, “the same [highly intelligent] smoke detector technology used in the 6,000-room hotel can be used in a smaller system,” said Steve Hein, general manager, fire and life-safety products for GE Security.

However, the “most key aspect of the product,” Hein said, is that for retrofit jobs, no rewiring is required. This saves money and time and is less intrusive for the customer, he noted.

“The technology has microprocessors in every device, so we’ve moved the intelligence to the device level,” Hein explained. This means that an installer can “replace the control panel and the devices and re-use the existing wiring; they can put in the latest and greatest technology using existing infrastructure.”

Hein said that there are “no restrictions” to that rule. GE has been using this technology over existing wires in its larger applications for some time, he said, and has “never run into any problems.”

The target market for this product is buildings of 50,000 square feet, although it’s suitable for larger and smaller buildings. GE has broken the market segment into three tiers and will be conducting a trial in October of a version of the series suitable for installers who do $10,000 to $20,000 worth of work a year.

Hein said GE has seen a substantial increase in the fire retrofit business recently. “In times of recession,” he said, “building owners try to attract tenants by retrofitting and modernizing buildings. And the standards state that if you modernize a building, you must bring the life-safety system up to modern standards as well.”