The simplest things make sense, too

Thursday, May 1, 2003

Editor, Security Systems News

Sometimes the simplest items in life make the most sense.

Take, for example, the recent ISC West Show. During the show, we often visit with many exhibiting manufacturers to not only learn about their company, but also their latest and greatest products. We spend time viewing systems, touching them and seeing how they work. And in the end, it proves to be some of the best education for us.

So much today is riding on technology. We’re talking more and more to systems integrators and manufacturers who see IT and physical security converging and are tapping into the latest and greatest technology on the market today to make that all happen.

But let’s get back to my first point, on how sometimes the simple items catch your attention.

It was the last day of the trade show, and Andrea and I still had one final appointment of the day to tend to. When we arrived at MIJA Industries’ booth we could honestly say we saw a product that we had never seen before on the market and one that makes sense.

The company had created a pressure gauge that attaches to a fire extinguisher and also links to either a fire or burglar alarm control panel. If the pressure goes below the recommended amount, or if someone lifts the extinguisher off its post it activates a sensor and sends a signal either to a burglar alarm or fire control panel, which is then relayed to a central station.

This system makes sense, especially given that according to statistics from the National Association of Fire Equipment Distributors only 10 percent of fire extinguishers are checked on a monthly basis as required by NFPA 10.

Just the other night, I came across a fire extinguisher at our office here tucked behind our front office door. The extinguisher was noticeably dusty; the yellow inspection tag attached indicated that it had not been inspected in years. The year on the tag read 1990 – that was 13 years ago! But the kicker was the gauge. When I looked at it, the gauge indicated the tank needed to be recharged.

While I don’t have a crystal ball to tell whether MIJA’s product, EN-Gauge, will be successful or not, I believe it makes sense.

Two years ago our building here nearly burned down after someone threw a cigarette butt out a car window. It landed in some mulch, smoldered for hours and then caught the base of our building on fire. Thankfully we have a monitored fire system.

In a similar situation, if someone had picked up a fire extinguisher to put out some early flames, it would alert the fire department sooner. It could mean the difference between minor damage and a total loss.

While so much of our security market is going high-tech, don’t forget that there’s still room for the basics.