UTCFS announces details of new Florida test facility

Focus on suppression systems
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Friday, September 10, 2010

FARMINGTON, Conn.—UTC Fire and Security’s new Fire Innovation Test Center will focus on suppression systems testing, product development, an experiential showcase of UTC suppression products for customers, and training for installers.

The building will be used to “showcase our technologies within UTCFS including some products from the alarm and detection side,” said Roger Riley of UTCFS’s Environment, Health & Safety group. Riley was involved with the development of this site, which is in West Palm Beach, Fla. on land owned by UTC Pratt and Whitney. A groundbreaking is scheduled for December and the planned opening date right now is January 2112.

While it’s dedicated to suppression and fire extinguisher testing, the facility will showcase “our technologies within UTC Fire and Security on the detection and alarm.” The group is evaluating the possibility of testing some fire alarm equipment here as well, but there are no immediate plans on the books to do this, Riley said.

Suppression fire testing will be done with both live fires and in a “cold discharge environment,” which is a “non-fire environment.” Testing in this type of environment helps researchers understand “how systems discharge, and the patterns of the discharge before it’s introduced to a fire environment.”

There will also be a 4,900 square-foot hall for live fire tests, which will be used for all types of suppression systems, including fixed systems, wet systems, mist systems and dry kitchen systems.

Another important component of the facility, Riley said, is an observation room. “That’s the second piece, the first is the scientific testing side, and the second piece is the customer demonstration observation room.”

The main benefit for dealers is that they can bring customers into the facility to see “how the systems can be applied in different scenarios. It’s also an opportunity for us to do training for installers.” Currently UTCFS does testing at a number of sites around the world, including facilities it owns and operates as well as third-party.

Riley is excited about the fact that customers will be able to interact with some of the product displays of different products, such as the Mariof water mist system. “It’ll be visible and accessible as part of the tour experience,” he explained. “It’s designed in a way that you’ll be able to walk into the cold discharge room and experience what water mist is like.” With this kind of technology, “seeing and feeling is key to believing,” Riley said.

Additionally, customers will “actually be able to go to the back of the house to see the support system that drives the water mist system.”