Mija completes pilot project in Austin-bergstrom airport

Monitored fire extinguisher manufacturer to install 650 en-Gauge extinguishers in the next two years
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Tuesday, May 1, 2007

AUSTIN, Texas--It was a fire extinguisher that alerted Austin-Bergstrom airport authorities to a car fire in a remote airport parking garage and enabled authorities to respond quickly to the emergency.
"As is typical in most garages, there was no smoke alarm there," said David Slack, facilities coordinator at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. When the car owner removed the extinguisher and the extinguisher removal alarm sounded, "our dispatcher was able to spin the camera over, see the fire and notify the fire department immediately," Slack explained.
The extinguisher was an en-Gauge monitored fire extinguisher, manufactured by Mija, of Rockland, Mass., one of 19 extinguishers installed at the airport as part of a pilot project, which wrapped up in late March. (See related story page 17)
The airport now plans to go forward with the installation of 650 monitored extinguishers over the next two years and will endeavor to tap some grant money to help pay for the roughly $275,000 cost of the project, Slack said.
The extinguishers monitor for three code-required characteristics: presence, pressure and obstruction (if anything is blocking access to the fire extinguisher). Last year, the National Fire Protection Association and the International Codes Council agreed to allow electronic monitoring of extinguishers in lieu of monthly physical inspections.
While many customers turn to monitored extinguishers to combat vandalism, Slack said his vandalism rate was low. "We were primarily looking at it from a business cost-saving perspective. When we started to look at the number and locations of the extinguishers and the manpower [required to] do monthly inspections and yearly inspections, it worked out to be cost-positive project," he said.
Mija has done installations in universities, public school systems and correctional facilities; this was its first airport project, said Jim Rose, project manager for Mija. "One of the unique parts of this job is that we tied our receiver into a SimplexGrinnell panel," Rose said. The extinguisher monitoring was tied into the panel's graphic system, he said.