NAFED Honors Craig Voelkert, Fire Protection Legend

July 29, 2019

July 2019

The National Association of Fire Equipment Distributors (NAFED) recently honored longtime Amerex team member and industry icon, Craig Voelkert, with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Craig exemplified this significant honor through his dedication to progressing the fire suppression industry. His commitment to innovation and industry engagement led to product advancements that are critical elements of life safety.

In the early 1990s, Amerex founder Ned Paine discovered Craig at a Nevada fire school, where he was leading fire-training courses. Ned promptly offered him a position at Amerex. Craig’s responsibilities would include advancing key product innovations, engaging with technical committees and leading interactions with local and federal governments. Since accepting Ned’s offer, he successfully fulfilled these duties and accomplished much more before he retired at the end of 2018.

Craig utilized his expertise and inventive personality to shepherd Amerex into new markets, such as pre-engineered fire systems for commercial restaurants and vehicles. In addition to his involvement with NAFED, Craig served as the Fire Equipment Manufacturers’ Association (FEMA) president and had various roles on National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) technical committees. Craig and his peers continuously pioneered new code and code improvements, which led to inventions like the K-Class Extinguishers for cooking operations.

With his leadership and vision, Craig leaves a lasting legacy on Amerex and the fire suppression industry. Thank you, Craig, for your meaningful impact. Amerex and our entire industry appreciate your many contributions over the years.

# # #

Media contact:
Jonathan Carter
Marketing Manager
Amerex Fire
205.661.4146
jonathan.carter@amerex-fire.com


Lawsuit Filed Against Multiple Fire Suppression Companies for Poor System Installation

July 15, 2019

Bonfire Restaurant fire May 2016 (Source: Downtown Grill Facebook page)

5/29/19

By Kristin Nelson
WMBF News

CONWAY, SC — A poorly installed fire suppression system is to blame for a massive fire that caused nearly $1 million dollars’ worth in damage to the Bonfire Smokin’ Taqueria restaurant, according to a newly-filed lawsuit.

The insurance company for the restaurant, Selective Way Insurance filed a lawsuit against Ashley Inc., A&A Hood Systems and several unidentified fire suppression installation companies and individuals. The suit states that they were hired to design and install a commercial kitchen fire suppression system for a 48″ Swig and Swine solid fuel smoker.

The lawsuit states that after the suppression system was installed, Ashley Inc. and A&A Hood were responsible for inspecting, cleaning and maintaining the suppression system. The companies were also responsible for inspecting and cleaning the exhaust and duct work for the smoker, according to court documents.

The lawsuit says that on May 9, 2016, Ashley Inc. and A&A Hood certified that it cleaned the exhaust system for the smoker. But it goes on to say that on May 28, 2016, a fire that originated from the smoker spread into the duct work and to other areas of the restaurant.

According to fire crews, about 35% of the fire damage took place in the kitchen area. No one was hurt in the fire.

“The fire spread from the smoker because of an accumulation of grease and combustible materials inside the duct work,” the lawsuit says. “The suppression system did not operate because it was deficient, unsafe and not compliant.”

Court documents say that the failure of the suppression system and the accumulation of grease and combustible materials caused the fire to spread and led to $835,000 in damage.

The lawsuit claims that Ashley Inc. and A&A Hood breached their duties to the restaurant and demands that the defendants pay $835,000 with interest, costs and other relief that the judge deems proper under the circumstances.

The insurance company is asking for a jury trial in the case.

The original story can be found here: https://www.wmbfnews.com/2019/05/30/lawsuit-faulty-fire-suppression-system-led-massive-blaze-bonfire-smokin-taqueria/


Raytheon-UTC Merger Highlights America’s Edge in R&D

June 28, 2019

The United Technology headquarters in Farmington, Conn., June 10.
Photo: Pat Eaton-Robb/Associated Press

6/10/19

By The Editorial Board
The Wall Street Journal

The decline and fall of American manufacturing is a oft-told story and usually fiction. The reality is that the U.S. retains significant comparative advantage in advanced manufacturing, as the merger of Raytheon Co. and United Technologies Corp. that was announced highlights.

The all-stock transaction would create Raytheon Technologies Corp., which the companies value at about $160 billion and would be second only to Boeing among U.S. defense suppliers. Raytheon, which makes Tomahawk cruise missiles and other advanced weapons, will add patents and expertise from UTC’s jet-engine and aerospace divisions.

Last year the two companies spent nearly $5 billion on R&D. The CEOs say cost savings will let the combined company increase spending on research, helping preserve the U.S. lead in defense technology as China expands its spending and military footprint.

For UTC, a conglomerate built in the 20th century, this bet on R&D is a long-coming adaptation to market pressure. CEO Greg Hayes has been trying to streamline the company by focusing on aviation and defense, and UTC is spinning off its Otis elevator and Carrier air-conditioning units over the next year. Those businesses made up a shrinking share of the firm’s sales, and meantime UTC acquired avionics company Rockwell Collins to expand in aerospace.

The marriage to Raytheon will complete UTC’s makeover, but it’s worth noting how political pressure may have delayed the transition. As President-elect in 2016, Donald Trump used Carrier as a political prop by demanding that UTC keep open an Indiana plant where it makes Carrier air conditioners.

Mr. Trump offered $7 million in subsidies over 10 years if UTC preserved at least 700 jobs and spent millions on domestic investment. It was an offer Mr. Hayes couldn’t refuse. But such industrial policy can’t overcome the laws of economics, and Carrier has continued to lay off workers at the Indiana plant as the subsidies weren’t enough to make up the costs saved by shifting jobs to Mexico.

Meanwhile, UTC added a total of 28,700 jobs from 2014-2018, and over the years has paid 38,000 employees to get a college degree. Raytheon created 6,000 new jobs in the same period. In this era of cynicism about business, politicians focus on the layoffs, not the investment in talent that companies know they need to succeed.

The merger also underscores the continuing vitality of U.S. high-value-added products. From 2009-2017, U.S. employment in advanced manufacturing rose 6%, even as automation has rapidly raised output, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. In 2016 defense and other advanced industries accounted for 60% of the total value of U.S. exports.

This advantage in high-value products comes from America’s edge in research and higher education, and it is likely to endure much longer than a strategy to outdo foreign exporters by competing on price in low-margin commodity businesses. At least it will if America can fill its growing need for engineers, either by improving education or inviting more immigrants with high-tech skills.

President Trump wondered on CNBC Monday if the tie-up would “take away more competition” in defense. His assent is necessary because, in addition to federal oversight, the Pentagon can use its clout as the top buyer to influence mergers in the defense industry.

Yet there’s little evidence that consolidation in defense leads to sluggish competition. A study released in February by the Center for Strategic and International Studies showed that mergers among defense contractors from 2000-2015 didn’t lead to higher prices. Raytheon CEO Tom Kennedy said Sunday that merger efficiencies would allow lower prices and bring up to half a billion dollars in savings to taxpayers.

The new company’s success will depend in part on rising defense spending in coming years, which is far from certain with the 2020 presidential election looming. Yet even if a Democratic President slashes spending on defense, the combined Raytheon Technologies would be better positioned to cut waste and sustain the investment that drives American security.

Appeared in the June 11, 2019, print edition.

The original article can be found here: https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-merger-bet-on-a-u-s-strength-11560206583


NFPA Battery Standard Could Impact Data Center UPS Designs

May 13, 2019

A battery room inside a data center campus in Richmond, Va. These batteries provide temporary emergency power for UPS systems. (Photo: Rich Miller)

4/1/19

By Rich Miller
Data Center Frontier

PHOENIX, Ariz. — A new standard being developed by the National Fire Protection Association could have a big impact on the use of batteries in UPS systems, according to a group of data center energy experts, who are seeking to mobilize the industry to seek revisions.

The new NFPA 855 standard was developed to provide safety guidance for the growing use of lithium-ion batteries in uninterruptible power supply systems (UPS) that provide emergency power in data centers and other mission-critical facilities.

NFPA 855 includes new design and testing protocols for lithium-ion UPS systems. But data center professionals say the standard has been broadened in ways that could alter current practices in deploying other types of data center UPS systems, and could potentially be applied to existing facilities.

“It’s a work in progress, but it’s impact would be profound,” said Ed Rafter, a Senior Associate at GBA (George Butler Associates), and former executive at The Uptime Institute. “The problem is that most folks in the data center industry are unfamiliar with NFPA 855.”

A group of concerned data center executives sent out a bulletin last week urging the industry to provide feedback on NFPA 855, which is open for comments through April 29. If adopted in its current form, the new standard “has the potential to disrupt all data center construction in all jurisdictions that have adopted NFPA standards,” the bulletin warned. “As written this standard can be applied retroactively to existing battery installations.”

Why NFPA Standards Matter

The NFPA is a non-profit group that develops codes and standards for the fire marshals and inspectors who enforce fire codes in cities and towns across the country. Its recommendations govern the work of AHJs (Authorities Having Jurisdiction) who inspect construction of data centers and other buildings.

NFPA 855 (Standard for the Installation of Stationary Energy Storage) would impact all battery installations providing more than 70 kilowatts (kW) of power, which includes nearly all data centers, which typically install emergency power systems to protect many megawatts of IT capacity. Sections of the new standard are already being implemented in Los Angeles, New York and other cities.

The data center UPS market has historically been dominated by valve-regulated lead acid batteries (VRLA). In recent years the industry has begun adopting lithium-ion batteries, which are commonplace in mobile devices like smartphones and laptop computers.

UPS systems using lithium-ion batteries offer multiple advantages over lead-acid batteries, including a longer lifetime, reduced weight and footprint, and less rigid cooling requirements.

But lithium-ion batteries also come with fire risks, as seen in incidences of smartphones catching fire. When improperly managed or stored, a lithium-ion battery can reach a “thermal runaway” state more easily than other types of batteries. A primary benefit of lithium-ion – its ability to store large amounts of energy – can become problematic in suppressing a fire. Advocates of lithium-ion UPS systems say these concerns can be safely managed with monitoring.

New Battery Tech, New Rules

Lithium-ion batteries are one of several new types of energy storage systems the NFPA is integrating into its fire safety standards, including storage systems to support photovoltaic solar panels and electric vehicles.

The changes in NFPA 855 prompted a response from members of the IEEE Power and Energy Society’s Energy Storage and Stationary Battery Committee (ESSB), who circulated an informational bulletin to data center professionals to raise awareness of the issues it may create for data centers.

“The effort to standardize and codify installations of Li-Ion batteries as well as other new technologies is praiseworthy,” members of the IEE ESSB wrote. “However, the 855 committee has lumped in lead acid and Ni-Cd batteries. These batteries have a very long track record of safety across multiple industries. The impact of this overreach has the potential to stall construction and retroactively require redesign of existing data centers.”

As an example, one section could require more batteries to be housed inside cabinets. Section 4.2.1 of NFPA 855 “requires all lead acid battery, vented (VLA) or sealed (VRLA) to be UL listed unless they are in cabinets and listed under UL 1778. This especially impacts data centers that use an open battery rack configuration,” the bulletin reports, adding that it is “is not aware of any UL listed lead acid batteries for stationary applications.”

“You would be required to disperse the batteries so they take up a larger amount of space,” said Rafter.

Data center power experts are encouraging manufacturers, engineers, builders and end users to review and understand the impact of the draft standard, as well as urging NFPA members to attend the NFPA Conference & Expo June 17-21, 2019 in San Antonio and vote to return the draft standard to committee for revision. NFPA members have until April 29, 2019 to file a Notice of Intent To Make A Motion (NITMAM) on this standard.

The upcoming BattCon conference in April will feature a panel on NFPA 855 led by Bill Cantor, a Vice President for TPI and long-time member of IEEE ESSB.

Data Center Frontier contacted the NFPA for a response to the concerns raised by the data center groups, but we have not yet had a response.

Testing at Issue for Lithium-Ion Deployments

The focus on lithium-ion batteries comes as these systems are beginning to gain traction in the market. “2018 was a turning point,” said Jeff Kessen, Vice President for Global Energy Storage at Vertiv, a leading vendor of UPS systems. “The number of data centers buying lithium-ion grew markedly last year, The adoption rate exceeded 25 percent of our new UPS sales by the end of last year. The rate of growth is significant, and I expect that to continue this year.”

The NFPA 855 standard calls for “large-scale fire testing” of batteries to ensure that fires will not spread, citing a testing methodology from UL (Underwriters Laboratory) which offers certification and safety testing for industrial products. The UL 9540A protocol specifically tests lithium-ion batteries for thermal runaway conditions, but industry say the guidance may not be thorough enough.

“Battery manufacturers will need to run the large scale fire tests soon, as there’s going to be increasing appetite for the data,” said Kessen. “A central issue is that there’s a specification of a fire test, but UL has not specified pass/fail targets. So there’s some ambiguity in the market.” Kessen said that leaves more interpretation of test results up to local AHJs.

“I suspect we’re going to have a protracted period where AHJs are going to need to know more about lithium-ion batteries,” said Kessen. “I think the risk to the industry is that different AHJs might look at the same data and reach different conclusions. For the short term, since the AHJ has all the responsibility and authority, anyone who wants to site (lithium-ion systems) in a facility should engage the local authority early in the process.”

The NFPA 855 standard calls for lithium-ion batteries to be used in groupings no larger than 250 kW, with each grouping separated from others by at least three feet. That creates a design consideration for power rooms.

“The implication for the industry is that if you do have to spread your lithium-ion cabinets three feet apart, it impacts the space available,” said Kessen. “I don’t think it changes the economics, as lithium-ion is justified based on its longer life.”

Seeking Context on Existing UPS Systems

A concern for some data center professionals is the potential that NFPA 855 measures designed to assess and manage lithium-ion systems could be applied to existing systems.

“We’re working with IEEE to put this into context,” said Rafter. “It started out as a response to lithium ion batteries, because of the incidents with lithium-ion batteries. There are very real concerns. It started out as an LI-specific document and grew into encompassing every battery technology. Some of those technologies have been in existence for a number of years.”

“You currently don’t have anything grandfathered in,” said Dan Lambert, Senior Product Manger at ZincFive, and also a member of the IEEE ESSB committee. “It’s not a single pain point. It’s going to have impacts on hospitals as well as data centers.”

For the data center industry, awareness is an important first step in crafting a response to the NFPA recommendations. Right now, awareness remains low, according to Lambert, who sampled his audience during a session on battery technology at last week’s Data Center World event.

“I asked how many people were aware of NFPA 855,” said Lambert. “There were 84 people in the room and only six raised their hand.”

Original story can be found here: https://datacenterfrontier.com/new-nfpa-battery-standard-could-impact-data-center-ups-designs/


Perimeter Solutions Acquires 3 Fire Suppression Companies in Idaho

April 30, 2019

3/21/19

By Perimeter Solutions

Fire Safety Global Market Leader Expands its Solutions Offering to Fire Suppression and Chemical Industries

ST. LOUIS, MO — Perimeter Solutions, the global leader in the production of fire retardants, foams, and water enhancing gels, along with a wide range of services for managing wildland, industrial, municipal, and military fires, announced it has completed the purchase of a group of companies in Post Falls, Idaho, including First Response Fire Rescue, River City Fabrication and H&S Transport.

As the manufacturer of PHOS-CHEK® Long-Term Fire Retardant, used by the USDA Forest Service, CalFire and many other fire management agencies around the world, for prevention and suppression of wildland fires, Perimeter Solutions plans to integrate the three businesses within its existing manufacturing and service ecosystem to expand its technology and solutions offering in the fire suppression sector.

First Response was established in 2003 by Shannon and Laura Horn as an independently owned and operated service company that provides equipment, field service, and distribution of parts and supplies for fire suppression operations. First Response, with a fleet of mobile equipment, is a key service supplier to the USDA Forest Service and CalFire. Since its inception, First Response, in partnership with the PHOS-CHEK business, oversees operations at more than 126 wildland fire airbases throughout the United States. The company, strategically manages and distributes equipment and fire retardant to assist in wildland fire suppression.

Established in 2009, RCF is a leading fabricator of chemical equipment, structural steel and specialty metal products. RCF is a value-add supplier of tanks and other fabricated equipment to the wildland fire market. In addition, RCF produces emergency response trucks and other firefighting systems for wildland fire management use.

H&S Transport, established in 2003, facilitates heavy equipment and transportation services for the wildland fire market and is a key service provider to Perimeter Solutions.

According to Edward Goldberg, Perimeter Solutions CEO, “These companies, added to the Perimeter Solutions family, greatly increase our ability to offer and supply our customers the products and services they need to accomplish their mission. Our goal is to help the firefighting community save lives and protect property by delivering quality products and exceptional services.”

“There is a great cultural and strategic fit with Perimeter Solutions. As we looked for the right partner to grow and expand our wildland fire management services, it was important to find a partner whose core values align with ours,” stated First Response President, Shannon Horn. “Perimeter Solutions core values of client service excellence, family first, accountability, and high integrity are values we both share.”

The companies operate out of a couple of facilities totaling 75,000 square foot under roof on eight acres of land. With multiple service bays, and dedicated staff, First Response is well respected as a one-stop shop for wildland fire suppression supplies. Perimeter Solutions will retain the management, staff and service technicians of First Response, RCF and H&S Transport. The Post Falls facilities will become a new operational site under the company’s Fire Safety Group with Shannon Horn assuming the new role of Director, Government Contracts and President of River City Fabrication.

###

About Perimeter Solutions
Headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, Perimeter Solutions operates as a leading specialty chemicals business, producing high quality lubricant additives and firefighting chemicals with a broad product offering across fire retardant and fire suppressant foam applications. Perimeter Solutions is the only company with fire retardant products qualified for use by the US Forest Service (USFS). Perimeter Solutions produces major brands known throughout the world like PHOS-CHEK® and FIRE-TROL® retardant, foam and gel products; AUXQUIMIA® and SOLBERG® foam products; and BIOGEMA® extinguishing agents and retardants. More info: www.perimeter-solutions.com

Media Contact:
Dave Pelton
Sr. Director, Marketing
Perimeter Solutions
Tel: +1 314 705 1140
david.pelton@perimeter-solutions.com

The original press release can be read here – Perimeter Solutions Acquires First Response Fire Rescue.


Protegis Acquires Maryland-based Fireguard LLC

April 30, 2019

4/15/19

Align Capital Partners

CLEVELAND and DALLAS -– Align Capital Partners recently launched a new brand name for its fire and life safety platform – Protegis Fire & Safety. In addition, Protegis, previously doing business as International Systems of America and ABCO Fire Protection, announced that it has completed the acquisition of Maryland-based Fireguard LLC. Like Protegis, Fireguard provides fire safety service and repair, inspection and installation services for commercial customers in a variety of end markets. On a combined basis, Protegis now does business in 45 states and employs more than 325 fire protection technicians across the country.

Founded in 1973 and family-owned and operated, Fireguard offers complete fire protection services for commercial office, multi-family residential properties and government facilities throughout the greater Baltimore-Washington DC area. “We’ve known the Fireguard team for several years and are excited to welcome them to our growing company,” said Protegis CEO Mike Epperson. “Given their reputation for service quality and technical expertise, they are a natural extension of our brand in the Mid-Atlantic and allow us to further deepen our customer density in the area.”

“The partnership with Protegis is an exciting new chapter for Fireguard’s employees and customers. We have great pride in the personal attention we’ve delivered to our customers over the decades, and we evaluated many options for our next phase of growth; Protegis’ industry-leading service culture stood out to us and will help facilitate our continued first-rate commitment to customers,” said Fireguard President Michael Bonanni.

ISA was first acquired by ACP in December 2017 and then acquired ABCO in August 2018. “With each acquisition, Protegis continues to add key talent and resources to its expanding national platform. Protegis offers customers a unique, single-source solution for installing, testing, servicing and monitoring fire and security systems and replacement parts,” said ACP Managing Partner Steve Dyke.

Protegis is actively seeking fire and life safety service providers across the United States who are interested in exploring their next phase of growth. Companies of all sizes could be a potential fit as Protegis continues to expand its geographic footprint and service capabilities. Please contact VP of Business Development Steve Smith at ssmith@protegis.com to discuss further.

Working with Mr. Dyke on the transaction were Operating Partner John Dupuy, Vice President Jack Parks and Associate Bill Zaccardelli.

About Protegis
Protegis provides inspection, maintenance, installation and repair services and sells new, repaired and remanufactured parts for fire and security systems and equipment. The Company’s team of professional engineers/designers and NICET-certified technicians design, install and program a wide variety of fire and security alarm brands. The Company’s national footprint and one-stop solution attract customers seeking to simplify their fire safety services spend and increase service quality through vendor consolidation. For more information, visit www.protegis.com.

About Align Capital Partners
Headquartered in Cleveland and Dallas, Align Capital Partners is a growth-oriented private equity firm that partners with business owners and management teams to create shared success. ACP brings experience, resources and a $326 million committed fund to help companies accelerate their growth, to the benefit of management, employees and the firm’s investors. ACP makes control investments in growth-oriented, lower-middle market specialty manufacturing, distribution and business services companies. For more information, visit www.aligncp.com.

Media Inquiries
Katie Noggle
216-505-6463
knoggle@aligncp.com

The original press release can be read here – Align Capital Partners Fire Platform Covers More Ground – Acquires Fireguard.


International Systems of America (ISA) and ABCO – After Merger – Rebrand as Protegis Fire and Safety LLC

April 30, 2019

4/2/19

Protegis Fire & Safety

The merged company is one of the most robust in U.S. for centralized fire and life safety products, services and parts

Louisville, KY / Cleveland, OH — After two of the country’s best-known names in fire protection, suppression and alarm systems, International Systems of America and ABCO Fire Protection, announced a merger in August 2018, they have together now rebranded under one name – Protegis Fire & Safety LLC. Protegis is Latin meaning “to protect” or “to cover.” Solidifying its wide-ranging managed service capabilities, the company now has a presence in 43 states and Canada. Protegis employs more than 300 fire protection contractors and safety technicians throughout the country. The company will maintain its primary offices in Louisville, KY and Cleveland, OH. Mike Epperson is the current CEO of ISA and will serve as CEO of Protegis.

The new name, Protegis, allows the company to unify its 350 fire protection contractors, safety technicians and employees around the country under one brand. Protegis will continue to provide the same quality, attention to detail, response times and passion-to-protect its thousands of customers throughout the U.S. and Canada.

The Protegis name represents the company’s three core tenets: Professional, Proactive, Protection.

“We are thrilled with our new name and feel that Protegis absolutely captures the promise that we make to our customers,” says Mike Epperson, CEO of Protegis. “We are truly a single source for installing, protecting and monitoring protection, prevention and suppression products, services and replacement parts.”

As part of the company’s rebrand, Protegis has also launched a new website, which can be found at www.protegis.com. The website provides a comprehensive overview of Protegis’ services as well as an online parts store, where parts can be ordered and are typically shipped within 24 hours.

ISA was acquired in December 2017 by Align Capital Partners, a private-equity firm with offices in Dallas and Cleveland. The ABCO merger was closed in August 2018. Protegis will continue to seek fire and life safety service providers across the United States as it continues to expand its geographic footprint and service capabilities.

 

About Protegis

Protegis provides inspection, maintenance, installation, and repair services and sells new, repaired, and remanufactured parts for fire and security systems and equipment. The Company’s team of professional engineers/designers and NICET-certified technicians design, install, and program a wide variety of fire and security alarm brands. The Company’s national footprint and one-stop solution attract customers seeking to simplify their fire safety services spend and increase service quality through vendor consolidation.

 

About Align Capital Partners

Align Capital Partners (“ACP”) is a growth-oriented private equity firm that partners with business owners and management teams to create shared success. ACP brings experience, resources and a $325 million committed fund to help companies accelerate their growth, to the benefit of management, employees and the firm’s investors. ACP makes control investments in growth-oriented, lower-middle market specialty manufacturing, distribution and business services companies. For more information, visit www.aligncp.com. For Align Capital Partners related media inquiries, contact Katie Noggle at knoggle@aligncp.com.

 

The original press release can be viewed here – Protegis Announced as New Brand Name for Recently Merged ISA and ABCO.