Technical Member Profile: Firetrace International

One of PMPA’s newest technical members is Firetrace International, a provider of automatic fire detection and suppression systems for micro-environments, including all types of computer-controlled machinery. The technology is designed to detect a fire on a machine and automatically suppress it at the source before it has a chance to spread and cause greater damage.


One of PMPA's newest technical members is Firetrace International, a provider of automatic fire detection and suppression systems for micro-environments, including all types of computer-controlled machinery. The technology is designed to detect a fire on a machine and automatically suppress it at the source before it has a chance to spread and cause greater damage.

Firetrace technology has its origins in the United Kingdom, where the products were invented in the late 1980s. In 2001, the company relocated its global headquarters to Scottsdale, Arizona and current president/CEO William Eckholm assumed the leadership role. Mr. Eckholm has more than 30 years of experience in state-of-the-art fire protection technologies.

"Firetrace is a great product for those who run their CNC machines unattended, especially those who are using hydrocarbon lubricants," says Scott Starr, Firetrace's marketing manager. "Economic realities are pushing more manufacturers to run their operations ‘lights out' because it's getting harder to afford on-site staffing 24 hours
a day. With the need to optimize machine usage, shutting them off at night isn't always an option. For many, it's only a matter of time before they have a machine fire, and for others, it is a regular occurrence because of their materials or processes."

The heart of the Firetrace system is the flexible, fire detection tubing that is routed throughout the interior of the machine's operating enclosure. With the tubing installed in potential hazard areas, a fire can be quickly and accurately detected. The system discharges a clean, fire-suppressing agent into the machine workspace in 4 seconds, preventing damage to the machine without contaminating the coolant.

According to Mr. Starr, his company's membership in PMPA has been very beneficial. "We get access to other PMPA members, particularly those running machine shops," he says. "Being involved in the association not only lets us promote our product, it enables us to better understand what challenges precision machinists face in terms of fire safety. It allows us to determine their needs and offer even more effective solutions.

"Membership also provides a forum for us as we develop ways to market our products," Mr. Starr continues. "We get feedback from other members to find out if our message is addressing the concerns of precision machine shop owners."

Firetrace had a booth at the most recent PMTS and is an active participant in the PMPA Technical Listserves. "We watch the Listserves very closely," Mr. Starr says. "There have been occasional questions about fire suppression, and we're right on top of those. We try to advise fellow members and tell them what we believe would be the best solution for them."

Mr. Starr sums up, "Fire suppression is not only important for the individual machines. It is important for the safety of employees, the buildings and the other equipment in the shop. We receive reports weekly from
satisfied customers who have experienced a CNC or EDM fire that was suppressed by Firetrace with minimal or no damage to the machine.

Firetrace International is located at 15678 N. Greenway-Hayden Loop, Suite #103, Scottsdale, Arizona 85260. Phone: (480) 607-1218. Fax: (480) 315-1316. Web site: www.firetrace.com.