Xtralis announces Big Ass partnership

Saturday, November 1, 2008

NORWELL, Mass.--Xtralis, manufacturer of VESDA, an early-warning fire system, has a new strategic partnership with a manufacturer of giant ceiling fans, which Xtralis said will address potential problems with the fans’ interference with sprinkler systems and provide new opportunities for traditional fire alarm installers.

Xtralis announced Sept. 8 that it was partnering with Big Ass Fans, of Lexington, Ky. BAF makes huge ceiling fans for industrial, institutional, agricultural and commercial facilities.

Sue Sadler, Xtralis director of sales for the Americas, explained that Underwriters Laboratories discovered that high-volume low-speed fans, such as those made by BAF, prevented certain “early action” sprinkler systems from going off. In January of this year, BAF and other fan manufacturers met with Xtralis, end users, insurance industry representatives, and National Fire Protection Association members to discuss the issue.

The partnership was born out of this meeting Sadler said. “Xtralis created a unique solution that would work with the fan application,” whereby once the VESDA system detected smoke, the BAF system would shut down.

BAF director of sales Paul Lauritzen said BAF researched early fire detection systems and “based on Xtralis’ technical offering and structure and the reputation of the company, we thought it would be a very good fit.”

The solution will be installed by BAF installers, not fire contractors. However, a fire contractor would tie the system into the main fire system. Lauritzen said that the VESDA/BAF solution could be used in new applications and to retrofit any HVLS fan.

“The neatest thing is that from a technical standpoint, when the fan is running we [Xtralis] are even better at detecting smoke,” Sadler said. NFPA codes will likely address the interaction of HVLS fans and sprinklers in future codes, Sadler said.