Retrofit bonanza?

HFS systems aimed at growing market
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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

LAS VEGAS--The Honeywell Fire Systems group sees retrofit on the rise as the economy has slowed and new construction has stalled, and will hold an ISC West press conference to introduce products geared toward this growing market.

News reports are full of statistics detailing the slowdown in construction, including a recent McGraw Hill forecast that the overall level of construction starts in 2009 will slide another seven percent to $515 billion, after a 12 percent decline in 2008.

There’s no doubt that manufacturers are gearing products to the retrofit market, said Beth Welch, public relations manager for HFS.

Loren Schreiber, product planner for Silent Knight, calls the new IFP-2000 fire alarm control panel “awesome for retrofit.” The panel is geared toward mid- to large-campus facilities, including educational campuses, industrial and apartment complexes. It’s scalable, with each panel capable of connecting 159 detectors and 159 modules. What’s unique, he said, is that “you can interconnect up to eight of the panels together to be one virtual system.” Schreiber noted that this is a big cost-saving measure, “You can use one set of phone lines for all eight panels if you want.”

With changes in UL standards, many fire marshals are requiring systems upgrades, Schreiber noted. The IFP 2000 is designed to make those upgrades easier, he said. “Even though [the panel’s] intelligent, you don’t need to use twisted pair … you can use the existing wiring in the building.”

Gene Pecora, general manager for Honeywell Power Products, is looking forward to talking about the ease of retrofit with some new products under his purview, specifically a new power supply product called HPFF8 or “FireForce 8,” which has an end-of-line resistor feature. “This will save installers hours trying to locate the end of the line in the field,” Pecora said. “They can swap out the panel and not have to find the end of the line.” Another feature is “trouble memory,” which will help “installers troubleshoot and diagnose the fault,” Pecora said. “It’s a feature generally found in much higher-end systems. We’ve taken it downmarket, so it’s available to more installers.”