MIJA: 'Health care market ripe for monitored extinguishers'

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

MARINETTE, Wisc.--Monitored fire extinguisher company MIJA completed its first health-care facility, a pilot project with Bay Area Medical Center here, the company announced July 5.
John McSheffrey, MIJA director of business development, expects health care to become a prime vertical for his company for two reasons: MIJA has a partnership with fire solutions firm Ansul, a division of Tyco International; and secondly, MIJA expects to expand its en.Gauge technology in the near future to monitor oxygen tanks used in hospitals.
MIJA has worked with Ansul for the past 15 months and Ansul's Joe Beranek arranged this project. In addition, Ansul recently completed a "hospital road show where they introduced suppression technology, including the en.Gauge product, to 15-20 hospitals," McSheffrey said. "The interest in en.Gauge is very high," he said.
The BAMC project involved 10 units installed throughout public areas on the first floor of the hospital. The public hospital plans to install en.Gauge on the other three floors as funds become available. It also has plans to install en.Guage extinguishes in three other hospital facilities that will be constructed on this campus in the future.
The hospital liked the idea of being alerted if an extinguisher was obstructed, a common occurrence with its active corridors and many pieces of rolling equipment. McSheffrey said the hospital was concerned that the wireless extinguisher monitoring equipment may interfere with other electrical equipment used in the hospital. "We assured them that the frequency our wireless is on is proprietary and there would be no interference at all," he said.
En.Guage sends an alert to the fire alarm or security panel if an extinguisher is removed, is low on pressure or is obstructed. The National Fire Protection Association and the International Code Council now allow electronic monitoring of extinguishers in lieu of 30-day inspections, saving money and time for businesses, McSheffrey said. In addition, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration references NFPA 10 in its codes, which allows for electronic monitoring. This OSHA nod of approval is also helpful in selling the technology, he said.
"We expect the project to help spur interest from other medical facilities," Beranek said.
In addition to its partnership with Tyco's Ansul and SimplexGrinnell, MIJA partners with Inovonix and PACOM for back-end technology. "We're a small company and we can't manage the distribution to everyone, what we want to do is systematically introduce the product through selected channels so we can train and support the integrator to ensure that the product is installed and serviced correctly," he said.