There are a number of encouraging signs indicating a rising demand for fire alarm panels in commercial and industrial buildings. Local, state, and federal building codes are the primary drivers, but the recent U.S. economy has not hurt either.

Frost & Sullivan (www.frost.2001.frost.com) reveals in the "North American Fire Alarm Panel Markets" analysis that this industry, comprised of conventional, addressable, and voice-evacuation panels, generated revenues of $356 million in 2000. Frost & Sullivan projects that number to top $520 million by 2007.

This latest F&S study analyzes the current state of these markets by examining industry drivers and restraints, estimating their impact on the market. It provides customer and pricing trends, while at the same time, identifies the challenges companies will face.

The economic environment in the United States has led to a construction industry with the financial resources for companies to renovate their existing fire alarm systems. Building codes dictate that all commercial buildings must have fire detection and prevention systems, which combined with recent growth, means fire alarm system providers will have a constant revenue stream.

No matter how much demand there is for these systems, suppliers still have problems getting products to the end- user. This puts a premium on strong distribution channels. While it is easy for large conglomerates to establish branch or direct-sales channels, smaller companies work with independent distributors, making it very important that they align with the most competent, knowledgeable distributors as possible. Maintaining that relationship isn't always easy, however.

Frost & Sullivan presents the 2001 Marketing Engineering Awards to companies that have worked diligently to make a positive contribution to the North American fire alarm panel industry.

The Distribution Strategy Award was presented to Evax Systems. The recipient of the Product Service Innovation Award was Silent Knight. The Product Line Strategy Award went to Cerberus, a division of Siemens. Simplex was presented with the Strategic Alliance Leadership Award. The Vertical Market Penetration Award went to NAPCO Security Systems.