Current Thinking on Security Fog Systems

Industry insiders weigh in on potential risks and proper system design

What about in smaller stores, like jewelry retailers? How do you design those systems?

This is not for every type of business, and we will not install it in every type of business, because it may not work from a safety standpoint. If it's a very small store, hypothetically 750 to 1,200 square feet and which has merchandise cases everywhere that already make it hard to get out, then we will pass on that sale and we will explain why. If it's a larger store, we would install it in the rear, facing forward, so the fog rolls forward, and the intruder can see the fog and can turn around and exit the store via the same window or door they came in on. We want them to flee the store as quickly as possibly. We don't want them stuck in the store and are trying to get out, chances are they are going to damage a lot of things while trying to get out of the store.

Without them seeing an actual demonstration and how it is configured to an alarm system, they simply don't know the reality of the situation. We want to educate them not just with paperwork and bullet points, but with a physical demonstration in a store space where it is a real-life scenario.

How long does it take for the fog to dissipate? Is that a standard rate?

It's not a standard rate; if you talk to three companies, you'll have three different numbers. Ours last approximately 25 minutes, which is shorter than most. In 15 minutes, 80 percent of the fog has dissipated. In most areas, because police response time is so poor, when the police roll up, the fog is already gone. This is a good thing of course.

What about these units in relations to smoke/fire detection systems and false alarms?

The unit has a device that doesn't allow it to go off in the unlikely event that the business has a smoke detector, which is normal since most businesses are using sprinklers now. But if there was a smoke detector, the unit cannot deploy the fog and will be shut down. So, if the smoke detector is tripped by a fire, then the unit will not eject any additional fog to the space.

Can this fog mix of water and glycol trip a smoke detector?

If the smoke detector is directly over the unit, and the unit deploys for a very long time, then yes, however most units that are large do not use smoke detectors. Instead they use sprinkler systems. Additionally, when our installers first look at a project, they assess where the detectors are. Fortunately, many of the detectors are now in the duct work these days, and the fogger won't set them off because they aren't in close proximity. Quite frankly, we don't want to go back to businesses often and replace cartridges because of a false alarm. Our goal is to try to eliminate that.