Live at the NAFED conference in New Orleans in May 2024, Drew stopped by the Amerex booth to chat with Wade Tilley and Brayden Banks about the new Z Series extinguisher and what it means for customers with highly corrosive environments.

The new Z Series extinguisher “kind of meets every different hazard that’s out there,” says Wade, addressing corrosion from chemical facilities to refineries. And, they explain, the extinguishers are rigorously tested to ensure they last well. To acquire UL verification, the extinguisher “went through an extra ISO standard–and that’s going to be in addition to the corrosive testing,” Brayden says.

Drew gets an inside look at these new extinguishers and what they mean for fire protection. Tune in to this short and sweet episode of The Fire Protection Podcast for unique insight into extinguisher innovations and what you can expect from Amerex in the future.

Timecodes:

  • 00:00 – Introduction
  • 00:54 – At the Amerex Booth
  • 01:35 – Z Series Extinguishers
  • 03:35 – UL Verification
  • 08:21 – Where the Z Series Came From
  • 13:38 – Conclusion

 

Full Transcript

Drew Slocum:
2024, here at the NAED Conference and Expo here with the Fire Protection Podcast. Really excited to be here. This is the third of three events; we’re in New Orleans. Really cool expo inside as well as two days, two to three days of trainings and seminars. So again, a little bit more video to come here, and really cool to be here. And NAFED has been a really big supporter of us from the podcast side as well as Inspect Point over the years. 

We’re here at the NAFED New Orleans show 2024. Great show so far. Trying to get some highlights of some of the partners and just different booths around here. So, want to really highlight Amerex and some of their stuff. So we’ve got Wade Tilley and Brayden Banks from Amerex. You guys want to tell the audience who you are?

Wade Tilley:
Yeah, well, my name again is Wade Tilley. I’m the South Central regional sales manager for Amerex. I’ve been with Amerex for seven years, joined the fire protection company or industry in ‘84, and so happy to be a part of the Amerex family for sure.

Brayden Banks:
My name’s Brayden Banks. I’m the product manager for portable extinguishers. So all hand portables, the wheeled units. Been with Amerex for about three years. So relatively new still in the industry, but love to be a part of the team. 

Wade Tilley:
Yeah. So today we’re going to talk about Amerex’s High performance Z Series products. 

Drew Slocum:
Oh yeah, yeah. I got a couple emails on it and I was like, oh man, I need to learn more about this. So perfect time at the show.

Wade Tilley:
Yeah, great. Well, Brayden and I are both super excited about this particular product line. Amerex makes a wide variety of handheld portables and wheeled units, and this high performance has been part of the Amerex offering, I think Brayden, since in the early nineties, maybe 1990s when we launched it, right? I think in 2018, actually at the last NAFED in New Orleans, was when this product was launched with the Z Series. And I think that was pretty strategic on our part simply because, really the offshore market kind of drove the development of that performance hot dip galvanized, back in the late eighties and early nineties. So, for us to launch that here, because a lot of our customers in this southern Louisiana area that work offshore, they provide a lot of that product line out there. So it was kind of strategic for us to do that. But we did make a change from Hot Dip galvanized to zinc. So what was that all about?

Brayden Banks:
We did, we added a zinc primer. So instead of having a galvanized unit, what we’ve done is moved to…So now we have a zinc primer underneath this red coat. So what that does is kind of act as a sacrificial node or coating for the corrosive environment around.

But what we’re looking at is a 10-pound Z Series Junior. This is what’s going to be news. What actually, me and Wade just had a webinar a couple of weeks ago about, so that we could talk about something brand new we’re looking at. So the smallest Z Series that we offer. So you’re looking at pretty much if you own a B456 or B441, it has–incredibly–the same footprint. So it’s essentially a drop-in unit. So it’s not going to have that rubber foot stand and it’s going to have a lower pressure at 195 PSI. So it doesn’t have that fast flow, it’s more of a compliance flow unit. 

Wade Tilley:
Correct. So one of the things that Amerex did that I’m really proud of is, as we were developing this product, we had a excellent market share offshore. And so, when we’re talking about making a change there, we were really wanting to make sure we didn’t make a mistake. This Z Series, this Z Series product, Amerex thought, you know what, let’s go to Underwriters Laboratories and ask them for a verification, right? So, we kind of put our money where our mouth was because that UL verification really is just saying, Hey, if you guys want to make a marketing claim, then we’ll tell you whether it holds water or it doesn’t, right? So that UL verification I think is a really important piece of the puzzle. And I can remember in my territory, because I have Southern Louisiana territory, the offshore guys were really wanting to know that what they’re going to be buying now is going to hold up. So, in addition to having the 12-year warranty like we had all along, we now have this verification process.

So Brayden knows way more about that and so I’m going to let Brayden talk about what that verification process is. 

Brayden Banks:
So you go through the UL 299 salt fog kind of testing. So that’s going to be the typical corrosion testing you’re going to see with any kind of standard unit. But what he’s talking about with the verification mark is that it went through an extra ISO standard, and that’s going to be just in addition to the corrosive testing. So I think it’s going to be I, it’s 21207, I might’ve mis-said that, but I think that’s going to be the ISO standard for all of the additional corrosive testing that you’re looking at. So it just goes through a longer period with higher concentration. So that’s what we we’re looking for, that’s how we acquired that verification mark. 

Wade Tilley:
Yeah, so every one of these extinguishers gets a UL verification label. And what I like about that is it has our little marketing, and I should have this memorized, but I’m pretty close, that the unit will withstand up to 12 years in a highly corrosive salt-contaminated environment. Right? And so each one of the extinguishers gets that label and that label has the UL logo, it has the word verified, and it has the test number on there so that if anybody wants to go verify for themselves–if that’s accurate, you can go to UL’s website, look up that test number, and you can see all that thing testing results. Right? 

So to provide a 12-year warranty that covers corrosion is a pretty powerful statement. So when we went to the offshore market in 2019 and said, Hey, we’ve got something that you guys would be interested in. And at the time, the offshore oil market was pretty suppressed, and some of those bigger companies were writing letters to their service providers going, “Hey, we need your help. We need to be able to save 20%. Things aren’t good out here.”

So because of what we were able to eliminate in terms of no longer having to galvanize, right, no longer having to have one guy wearing PPE addressing a shell so that you could paint it to get a label to stick to it, plus an internal process where Amerex invested several million dollars in a state-of-the-art powder coating paint process, we were able to come put this zinc primer on here, go through that UL testing, get the verification, launch the product, remain in good standing, and offer those guys what they were really looking for, which was some price relief. 

So really a really big deal, and it took them about two seconds to say, “We’ll make that switch. Thank you very much.”

Drew Slocum:
Now does the 12 year, does that kind of align with the NFPA 10 kind of tear down timeframe? It kind of aligns, right, with that 12 year, right?

Brayden Banks:
That’s exactly right. At that point, you’re hydrostatic testing that breakdown that they’re fully looking for. Basically we’re saying that we’re verified for the corrosion because no other unit is covered with corrosion, only this unit. So up until the first breakdown, we will cover that and it’s UL verified.

Drew Slocum:
That’s great.

Wade Tilley:
And the other thing about the UL verification, it’s not just a one time deal. You got to go back to UL periodically and prove to them that your manufacturing process is still the same three years later as it was when you initially presented the project. So for us, for me personally, as I’m selling this product, that’s one of the biggest features is that, hey, we really have put our money where our mouth is. Not only do we have great performance, we have excellent range on this unit, we have great ratings, we have really, really strong discharge rates and flow rates as well.

So for me, it was just like all of these things came into like, a stars aligning almost, for this particular product line. So I’m super excited about it. And while we were doing this webinar, Brayden asked me, he goes, okay, where are you putting these? Where are you asking your customers–what type of application, really? And so for me it was like, okay, because we make these in ABC and Purple-K, and the 10 pounder is brand new. It’s the smallest one, but we make a 13-pound…

Brayden Banks:
13-pound, six kg.

Wade Tilley:
20 pound, and 30 pound. We make them in compliance flow, like Brayden mentioned a minute ago. We make them in a fast-flow product, right? So it kind of meets every different hazard that’s out there. And so I’m saying, Hey, if you’ve got a corrosive environment, like a lot of chemical facilities, even refineries, a variety of different applications where you have corrosion, especially down here, right? The brackish water. So that’s one place where you’ve got a solution.

So, a fire extinguisher may last a couple of years in certain environments without this zinc protection. So that’s one place. The other place is if you’re competing against another brand of extinguisher, maybe a cartridge-operated type of extinguisher. So, we have some things we bring to the table that, at least you can do some comparison. That’s pretty fair. And nobody would ever be ashamed or embarrassed to sell or buy one of these Z Series units from Amerex, I can tell you that.

Drew Slocum:
Yeah, you can kind of plug it in where–and again–same footprint, just different fast flow and obviously corrosion, logistics, and all that.

Wade Tilley:
What really drove the 10-pounder? That came from a particular vertical market? Or was it mining or where’d that come from?

Brayden Banks:
The request kind of did come from, not necessarily offshore, but what mining, mining, waste management. You wanted something that’s smaller to fit a certain rate standard, but at the same time had a similar footprint of this. So you’re looking for almost like a drop-in unit. That was the focus. The focus was how can we blend an already great product, but something that’s going to be more heavy duty and this is kind of the best of both worlds.

Wade Tilley:
Hey, so why do we separate the UL label on these? And that’s a big deal because now we have replacement labels as we placed the UL separately–and the UL verification label are separate. So that’s a big deal. I think initially the offshore market said, Hey, help us with this. Right? Brand new extinguishers, Coast Guard’s pretty stringent. They were saying, “Hey, you got to scratch through the UL, you have to condemn the unit.” And they’re like, well, holy smoke man, I just bought the unit.

And so they asked us, “Hey, can you relocate those?” So we said, yeah, we can. So initially we put them on the back of the extinguisher. We separated it, so it’s a separate label on the back. Offshore, that lasted about a month. And they were like, that doesn’t work.

So where we’ve located them now, the 10 pounder is a little different. If we had a 20 or a 30 here, you could see there’s plenty of room. But these labels now are being located right here underneath the hose. So it allows this primary label to be a replacement label, which is new as well, because the other extinguishers that we bring to the market, right? The UL manifest is a part of the primary label. So, in a commercial environment or a light industrial environment, if you lose or damage that UL, really most local authorities or even state authorities are saying–and NFPA 10 as well–hey, that has to be removed for service.

So one of the things we’ve done is try and make that a replacement label so that if somebody has a damaged label that can be replaced. Awesome, ow we’ve got a part number for it. You can get a replacement label.

Drew Slocum:
That’s compliant for the label. So I showed this to Brayden earlier. Again, this is a test unit and what we’ve liked at, obviously, Inspect Point is your QR codes. And that’s helped out the service providers tremendously because you have the make, you have the model, you have the year on the cylinder, which gives you actually 10 pieces of data from just going up and scanning it. So, we kind of popped on this and we still market it, and I don’t think any manufacturer’s caught up to you guys yet. But you literally hit this QR code and it kind of populates everything for that extinguisher. So, as you keep going there, you know, you have all that data pretty much at your fingertips. 

Wade Tilley:
We really didn’t talk yet about the handles or the PSI or any of that, but it’s obviously, it’s a brass bow, it’s got stainless steel handles. It’s got a stainless steel gauge guard, operates at 240 PSI instead of 190 PSI. 

Brayden Banks
This is 195. 

Wade Tilley:
Well, the 10-pounder, thank you for correcting me and helping me be better. But the 10-pounder is 195, the other three sizes are 240 PSI. Yeah, thank you. That’s why Brayden’s the Product Manager. They keep me out of the office. You do your thing. Let Brayden stay in his lane. 

Drew Slocum:
Yeah, that’s awesome. This is great, guys. Yeah, yeah, looking for–I saw that webinar a couple of weeks ago. I was like, I’ll see them at NAFED.

Wade Tilley:
Hey, the thing I would say is, if there’s anybody out there that’s watching this and you’re interested in learning more about the product, we have great marketing literature you can access through the website. You can get in touch with a guy like me or one of the other regional sales managers, you call and talk to Brayden and you find out everything you need to know about it, pricing, all that kind of stuff. Lead times on these items are pretty good. Lead times on the items are pretty good. Awesome, man. Thank you.