An intrusion technology used in Europe for a decade is being marketed in the United States. The concept is to immobilize intruders with impenetrable smoke that fills a room when a break-in occurs.

“None of the newer technologies that are coming out aim at the core of our business -- reduction of insurance premiums and minimizing of property loss,” maintained Geof Petch , president/CEO of PROTECT Security Systems of America, Marina del Rey, Calif., one of several manufacturers that sell a smoke-fill product. “This technology does exactly that.

“CCTV cameras only do two things -- give you a clearer picture of someone trying to steal something with a mask on or move information around,” Petch complained. “What are they doing to stop theft? Generally nothing. That’s really where our product comes in.

“Last year alone, over 20,000 of these were installed in Europe,” he said of his company’s product only. “A great percentage of our business is driven by insurance companies. For a cell phone warehouse in the U.K., if you don’t have our technology installed, you cannot get insurance today. If you own a casino in Australia, you can’t get insurance unless you have our technology installed in your casino,” Petch asserted. “Insurance and police departments are driving our business.”

Most of these systems produce a non-toxic smoke from sugar-based liquid glycol that is easily vented and leaves no residue. The smoke is produced from unobtrusive-looking devices. The concept is to direct the smoke towards intruders as they enter so they will exit to elude the smoke.

The fog can remain for anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours with various systems if the area is unventilated. Smoke usually can be cleared intentionally within 15 minutes, the companies estimate.

“I just did a demo in a room of 600 square feet, and the fog hit us within four seconds -- it moves that fast,” Petch insisted of his company’s Smoke Cannon technology. “You see a plume of smoke, and then it explodes and it’s everywhere.

“You can’t see through it -- there is no way of getting around it,” he emphasized. “A police department did extensive tests and found the most effective way of moving through the fog is with a police dog because they depend on smell!”

The fog is produced to expand rapidly. “A glycol solution passes over a heat exchanger under pressure and hits our advanced nozzling mechanism, so this combination of elements presents density and speed of smoke,” Petch explained. “It’s much denser than ordinary fog and is heat-neutral.”

That heat neutrality means active infrared imaging devices will not be able to see through the fog, Petch maintained. Building codes occasionally affect installation. “Now and then we run into a city that has a certain regulation that could affect use of this technology,” Petch conceded. “These are regulations that came about based on the performance of older-style units. Every situation where we ran into that, we could sit down with the police or fire department and work this through. This is not prevalent in the U.S.”

PROTECT of Arhus, Denmark, has sold its units mostly in Europe and the South Pacific for use in stores, casinos and warehouses. The units currently are for commercial and governmental use, but a residential unit will be introduced to the U.S. market by the end of 2005, Petch announced.

His company is actively recruiting U.S. alarm companies for dealerships. For more information on the company and its products, call (310)795-4737 or visit