NFPA, Day 2, more photos, more fun

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06/09/2010

I started this blog before getting on the plane this morning. Twelve hours later I’m happy to be back with the fam and on the wonderfully cloudy, cold, humid coast of Maine.

Here are some highlights from June 8, Day 2 of NFPA.

The first event of the day was an NFPA “Tweet Up” in the press room at 7 a.m. I missed that one. Anyone go?

Maybe I’m confused because my experience with Tweet Ups is limited to the ones we’ve had at ISC West this year and last. We meet at the TI bar at 9 pm and Sam buys drinks until it’s time for Black Jack.

I’d decided ahead of time there’d be no tweeting in the early hours for me, but I was contemplating going for a run on the strip early. It was only 6:30 and it was already 80 degrees outside, so I scuttled that plan too. (It hit 106 in the afternoon.)

So, the day started for me at 8 with the Honeywell Fire Systems press conference. HFS provided breakfast and an hour-long comprehensive overview of new products from each of the HFS brands, some of which were repeats of ISC West announcements since there’s not a ton of crossover in the audiences for the two shows.

The most interesting product launch—and it turns out to be something of a trend—was about a new business that System Sensor is getting into.

Jeff Klein, VP product marketing for System Sensor, introduced System Sensor’s new FAAST (fire alarm aspiration sensing technology). It’s a brand new product line for System Sensor and it’s direct competitor to VESDA (owned by Xtralis), an air sampling technology that’s capable, Klein said, of providing “very early warning of fire—30 to 60 minutes before a fire event.”

I got some background from System Sensor’s David George after the press conference. The market aspiration products is about $100 million globally and VESDA currently has about 80 percent of the market share.

Plans have been in the works for the product for three years, and Systems Sensor does have a similar product in Europe. FAAST has five alarm levels and George said it almost eliminates false alarms. It draws air samples through a pipe network that uses “dual- source sensing technology.” There are two lights in the chamber, a red laser identifies dust “and provides extreme nuisance rejection…no false alarms,” George said. The second light is a blue LED that identifies smoke particulates. That technology combines with algorithms to provide very early warning.”

NFPA 75 and 76 require this kind of warning for data centers. Data centers and other mission-critical facilities are target verticals for this product, as are historic buildings and museums and correctional facilities.

Interestingly, UTCFS’s Antonio Cintra had mentioned to me on Tuesday that UTCFS had introduced its own air-sampling system. And later in the day, when I was SimplexGrinnell, I was talking to SimplexGrinnell’s Anthony Moffa about their new Simplex XAD Air Supply Smoke Detector, which allows for the remote maintenance of duct detectors.

SimplexGrinnell had a 50s style dinner-themed booth this year

SimplexGrinnell had a 50s style dinner-themed booth this year

SimplexGrinnell has a long standing partnership with VESDA, so has offered these kinds of products for a while.

 

We also talked about SimplexGrinnell’s new video smoke detectors, which Simplex introduced last year.

Moffa also wanted to show off SimplexGrinnell’s new TrueInsight Remote Service. This product, which does remote Internet-based service monitoring. It’s completely separate from central station monitoring and its aim is not to monitor events for alarms, but to monitor “strictly for troubleshooting and diagnostics.” The goal is to “change the way people get service from us,” Moffa said.

The product detects potential problems–dirty sensors for example– that may not even appear on local fire panels yet; diagnoses them, and “arms the technicians with information about exactly what kind of trouble they’ll be dealing with.”

Moffa said SimplexGrinnell is excited about this product on many levels. Typically, a problem is detected locally, a service technician is dispatched to diagnose the problem. Most of the time, problems require a second triip to the siite by the technician. “On any fix, only about 50 percent are completed on the first visit,” he said.

The product will save time and money for SimplexGrinnell, increase technicians’ productivity, and provide better customer service at the same time, Moffa said.

It’s in the first stage of a national roll-out, which began 7 months ago in districts in New England.

Notifier's Brian Carlson and Melanie Cobb

Gamewell-FCI's Brian Carlson and Melanie Cobb

Over at Gamewell-FCI, later in the day, Melanie Cobb and Brian Carlson told me all about a new component in Gamewell-FCI’s E3 (combination fire and mass notification system.) The Central Control Unit, or CCU is new and it enables emergency communication from inside the building to the outside and, vice versa. The communication can be done via various of media–big speakers arrays, text messaging, paging etc., and, within a couple of months, this will all be available wirelessly.

After that meeting, I had to go check out the Siemens booth again. They were blasting rock anthems from my youth–Rolling Stones and The Who–and a crowd had assembled around the booth. This is what was going on:

dynamic painting at the Siemens booth

dynamic painting at the Siemens booth

 

Michael Ostaski creates art on demand for Siemens

Michael Ostaski creates art on demand for Siemens

Steve Kuehn told me that Siemens hired artist Michael Ostaski to paint “montage of fire-related images through his high-energy Art Explosion performance, live, on-stage.” The resulting work was to be given to Jim Milke, professor of Fire Protection Engineering at the University Of Maryland School Of Fire Protection Engineering at the Automatic Fire Alarm Association breakfast 7:00 – 9:00 on June 9.

Over at Fike, I interviewed new CEO Chuck Kopoulos. Here’s the story I wrote about that.

Fike's Barb Sheehan, me and my Mac, Chuck Kopoulos

Fike's Barb Sheehan, me and my Mac, Chuck Kopoulos

 

After the show closed I headed over to the Mandalay Bay Events Center Bar, where Potter was celebrating a partnership with Japanese manufacturer Nohmi, where Potter is collaborating with Nohmi to create a new line of fire protection products.

Potter president Bernie Lears was greeting guests, who packed the room and were crowded in equal numbers around the bar area, appetizer stations, and product displays.

It’s a chance to show off what the two have come up with, said Jeff Hendrickson, and “the first step in a long and prosperous relationship.”

Bruce LaRue, president of Potter’s sprinkler business, noted that the sprinkler business has had a full complement of products for many years and now “the fire alarm side is catching up with the sprinkler side.” The collaboration between Potter and Nohmi is “another step in that growth.”

So, how big was the show? The NFPA communications staff didn’t have final stats on the show when I checked at the end of the day yesterday. That information will be available in about 10 days. The number of booths and companies was about the same as last year. In 2009 there were had 328 companies and 690 booths. This year there were 334 companies and 687 booths. In terms of registration, this is the official word from NFPA’s Lorraine Carli: “Registration is tracking on target or a little ahead of where we were last year. The 2009 NFPA Conference & Expo in Chicago attracted over 4,200 attendees. We are on par to meet or exceed that number”

To me, the show seemed about the same, in terms of crowd as the show in Chicago last year. It seemed smaller than the 2008 Vegas show. (NFPA goes to Vegas every other year and rotates between Boston, Orlando and Chicago every other year.)

One place there was a real crowd, was the Honeywell Fire customer event.

Crowd outside the Honeywell Fire Systems' customer appreciation event

Crowd outside the Honeywell Fire Systems' customer appreciation event

 

Some celebrities showed up:

it's blurry, but it's Marilyn Monroe getting friendly with some fire guy

it's blurry, but it's Marilyn Monroe getting friendly with some fire guy

and

Neil Diamond

Neil Diamond

 

and, yes, he was there too.

Elvis and some fire gals

Elvis and some fire gals

 

When I arrived at NFPA I ran into Rob Tock of UL, and when I was leaving my last NFPA event I ran into the folks from UL competitor Intertek ETL, Tom Connaughton and Patrick Hourigan.

Tom and Patrick

Tom and Patrick

That’s all for NFPA 2010. Next year, the conference is close to home in the Hub. Hooray for Boston. Looking forward to it already.

Comments

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<p class="comment_author">June 15th, 2010 at 4:27 am</p>
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<p>Looks like a great exhibition. Much more fun than the ones we have, we don&rsquo;t even have an Elvis!</p>
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<p class="comment_author">June 10th, 2010 at 8:48 pm</p>
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<p>Made the attempt to run outside once. I was about half mile away from the hotel when I had a guy yell at me for running in this heat. He told me a story about a non-local running off the Strip that&rsquo;s not suitable for this blog. I quickly made a U-turn (or bang a U&rsquo;ey) back to the hotel and hit the cardo room.<br />
Since you missed the 3rd day, the highlight was the convention hall&rsquo;s PA system dying and letting out its last harsh pop. Heart attacks waiting to happen for some people.</p>
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