Article Archive
Electronics Allow Plants To Check Their Fire Extinguishers Automatically
Vol 22 Number 5

On average, an industrial facility manually checks hundreds to thousands of fire extinguishers each year. Mija, Inc. of Rockland, MA, has developed a device that monitors and documents fire extinguisher pressure constantly, notes movement of the extinguisher's presence and checks for any obstructions to the device. Industrial managers now have a simple means to check their fire extinguishers on a 24/7 basis and meet mandated regulations.

"'Mi' stands for Michaela. 'Ja' stands for Jack. I call them Mom and Dad," said John McSheffrey, vice president of business development for Mija, Inc.

The industry recognizes them simply as Mija, a company that makes pressure gauges for fire, medical and industrial gas industries. Though the McSheffrey family has operated their business for 35 years, it was only about nine years ago that they found an answer to some common problems with fire extinguishers. They took the initiative to develop a technology that is revolutionizing the world of fire extinguisher maintenance and accountability.

"If you look at a building's fire safety program," McSheffrey said, "the only aspect that is not electronically monitored is the fire extinguisher."

Electronic monitoring allows the ability to create electronic documentation of each fire extinguisher unit and meet compliance obligations.

With the support of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) under their belt, Mija pushed forward to develop a product that we now know as en.Gauge?, an electronic notifying gauge. It enables fire extinguishers to monitor for presence, pressure and obstruction.

"It monitors the fire extinguisher 24/7 for, pressure, position and access," McSheffrey said. "If that fire extinguisher is removed from the wall, you know immediately that there is an issue."

The system came to the aid for an incident in the Austin-Bergstrom airport parking lot. A car fire broke out, and the owner grabbed the fire extinguisher from the wall. It sent a signal to the command post that the extinguisher had been removed. A camera caught the action, and fire trucks were sent to the scene.

McSheffrey shared another case study about University of Utah. Students were stealing and vandalizing fire extinguishers across campus, so the school implemented the use of Mija's technology and educated the student body. Theft and vandalism dropped from 50 fire extinguishers a year to one.

"There are tremendous savings on liability, loss, maintenance issues, and with theft and vandalism," he said.

Recognizing the abilities that the en.Gauge system offers, the NFPA and International Code Council both have approved the technology in lieu of 30-day manual inspections. "It passed their expectations for monthly inspections - possibly even surpassing them," McSheffrey said.

Even the Department of Homeland Security recognizes the value of safety that en.Gauge provides.

"The Department of Homeland Security recognizes this technology because in the past two years there have been over 50 incidents where people have stolen fire extinguishers, tampered with them, turned them into IEDs (improvised explosive device), put them back and killed well over 40 people," McSheffrey said. "Facilities that are eligible for Homeland Security funds could potentially install en.Gauge using that money."

Facilities looking to alleviate their inspection process using the en.Gauge system might be interested to know that it works directly with their existing monitoring point on the fire control panel.

"We didn't reinvent the wheel," McSheffrey said. "We saw what all the other folks in the electronic alarm world were doing, and we followed suit. We just applied the technology."

If the extinguisher is removed from its designated location, loses pressure, becomes obstructed or the battery falls below an acceptable level, a signal to the building's fire control panel alerts staff. The alert signal can be sent by hard-wired connection or wireless radio transmission.

"If something is blocking that fire extinguisher, it's going to tell you," McSheffrey said. "It doesn't tell you immediately. It takes a look once every 15 hours. If it doesn't see anything, it shuts right back down. If it does see something, it goes into a secondary mode where it looks once every five hours. If it gets multiple repeats, then it will send a signal. The reason why five and 15, it's not repeatable on a clock. It doesn't allow for normal cycles of an industry or normal cycles of a business to play a role in the extinguisher."

Offering such strong advantages to meet regulation standards and account for liability, en.Gauge by Mija offers facilities a positive outlook on safety and time.

"With this technology, you know your fire extinguisher is there," McSheffrey said. "You know it's not being messed with. You know immediately if there is an issue. It helps you with code compliance. It helps you with liability. It helps you with OSHA. And it potentially can stop vandalism or even worse."

With facilities in Massachusetts and Mexico, Mija Inc. commands a major share of the fire extinguisher pressure gauge market in the United States and aids in the fire protection industry.????????????????????????????????????

To receive more information about en.Gauge, visit target="_blank" or call toll free 1-888-364-2843.


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