New extinguisher tech is elementary

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Thursday, December 1, 2005

GOFFSTOWN, N.H.--Bill Degnan, New Hampshire State Fire Marshal, is betting that the newly installed electronically monitored fire extinguishers here at Mountain View Middle School will interest other schools and businesses in this technology.
Monitored extinguishers sound an alert if they're tampered with or lose pressure, Degnan said. "Another advantage is that the monthly maintenance [required by code] can be done electronically," he said.
Last month, the National Association of Fire Marshals installed 40 fire extinguishers here as part of their safety demonstration project called Safe and Secure Schools. Two other schools, in Anchorage, Alaska, and Rockaway, N.J., also received extinguisher systems in November.
Degnan oversaw the Goffstown installation. The manufacturer, MIJA of Rockland, Mass., donated the en.Guage systems to the schools.
In the fire extinguisher business for 33 years, MIJA patented this technology five years ago. The en.Guage system has added new capabilities in the last six months. "Our systems can now be installed wirelessly using an Inovonix platform," said John McSheffrey, vice president of business development for MIJA. "The schools all got a wireless mesh network that they can build upon. They could install motion detectors, temperature controls or other security measures in the system."
Degnan, the fire marshal, said he frequently gets calls from hotels and other businesses that want to get rid of their extinguishers because of vandalism. "I have to say, no, they can't get rid of them because fire extinguishers should be first in the line of defense in the case of fire," he said.
He believes monitored extinguishers will help in these instances. "This helps make sure that the fire extinguishers are there, ready to operate when they need them," he said. "With this system, the reliability of fire extinguishers is improved immensely," Degnan added. "I'm going to be working to get this installed throughout the state."