Current Thinking on Security Fog Systems

Industry insiders weigh in on potential risks and proper system design

POINT: Security Foggers Work and Aren't a Hazard

To offer the counter-point and to share some details on how security foggers work and are designed, we turned to FogSHIELD CEO Jordan Frankel. FogSHIELD recently launched its product in the U.S., and Frankel participated in our Q&A to share some clarification from a vendor's perspective.

SIW: What was your first reaction to the IAFC comment?

Frankel: My first reaction was that their primary concern is with safety, and so is ours. I think they just need to be educated. Some of the information they had as to the technology of security foggers was inaccurate, and mainly because they had not been informed or seen demonstrations performed personally. The IAFC has a show in August called the First Responder Show that we have been invited to and to sit down and speak with them in terms of security foggers.

Was there a sentinel event you were aware that prompted the focus on this technology?

Not that we are aware of. But we were invited to do some press coverage when we launched, and this did come out 10 days after we officially launched our product. You have to remember that my exact product has been used in the UK for over 30 years, and there are 103,000 units installed, with virtually no incidents. When they were launched there, we had the same initial reaction, but eventually new rules and regulations were properly set up and we haven't had any problems.

Could one of the potential concerns be that a person might see a building that appears to be full of "smoke" and will think fire, causing a response by the fire department, when in reality, a police response would be the appropriate choice?

Well, yes, but one of the things it that it's not smoke; it's fog. Smoke tends to be black and the fog is white. It resembles a cloudy day, and is not toxic. Also, there is signage that is placed on the outside of any building that has one of our units in it. There are also stickers, and the lighted units are brightly lit so it can be seen both in the day or the night, and it is triggered when the FogSHIELD unit is activated. It says something to the extent of "This property protected by a security fogger."

Before we even install a unit, the monitoring station is notified by certified mail, and the local police department and fire department are also each notified by certified mail that there is a unit that potentially is going to be installed. When I say potentially, we want to make sure the local ordinance, specifically the fire code, doesn't prohibit such a unit. There are some rare instances in the United States where you can't have a security fogger. We check with them before the installation and then all these parties are made aware when we do the installation.

Unfortunately, there is not a list of all the locations where these are prohibited. We actually have to contact each jurisdiction ahead of each install. You have to do your due diligence.

One of the things the IAFC mentioned were safety codes as related to egress. Do security foggers like your FogSHIELD system meet that code?

Most of the egress laws were provided many years ago before this technology even existed. They mainly pertained to lock system that could lock an intruder or user inside a residence or business, which would cause a potential hazard. In my opinion, they have not updated their rules and regulations for security fog systems as of yet, and that is why we are focused on education.

Our product is not a man trap. For example, we do a lot of rent-to-own systems. Typically these units are installed in the rear of the store or where the most expensive items are. For example, in a rental center, they would be installed near the high-value consumer electronics. We put the unit there, and it is attached to the alarm panel and to motion sensors so when the intruder approaches the area where the values are, then that is when the unit goes off. It doesn't go off immediately and fog the entire space and then create a mantrap or prevent egress.