Founded in 1963 by Bob and Della Williams, Williams-Pyro had a knack for solving complex problems with simple solutions. The company designed and manufactured ground-support test equipment for US military aircraft, and it was this exposure to military bases, and more specifically base housing, that led to the eventual design of StoveTop FireStop. Bob Williams noticed that all base houses had an old bean can filled with baking soda next to the stove to put out grease fires. It was an observation that he would come back to a few years later.
In 1972, the Williams were attending a neighborhood block party when they overheard someone talking about a recent grease fire. The neighbor stated, “I got distracted and left the stove on. Sure, I had a fire extinguisher and baking soda in the fridge. But since I wasn’t in the kitchen to use them, neither did me any good!” Hearing this story became a revelation, and launched the design of the simple, automatic fire suppressor that is today known as StoveTop FireStop.
Invention of the PopTop Model
During the 1990’s, as Williams-Pyro’s own Research and Development group was busy developing products for the military and industrial sectors, the kitchen was evolving. Many residences were now being built or modernized with microwave ovens installed over the cooktop. While the design of the model was perfectly suited to work under a range hood, it could not cover all of the burners from the lower height and of the microwave oven.
Until an automatic solution could be developed, Williams-Pyro introduced an interim product: PopTop FireStop. It uses the same fire suppressing powder as StoveTop FireStop in a sealed can for longevity. The PopTop also works for kitchens that have neither a range hood nor a microwave over the cooktop, such as downdraft cooktops.
Invention of the Microhood Model
In the meantime, Williams-Pyro designers continued exploring ways to use StoveTop FireStop when a microwave oven is installed over the cooktop. The powder must be distributed to all four of the burners, but with less than half of the clearance required by the model. The resulting design uses four smaller cans, two for the back burners with a ramp to deliver powder to the front burners. Williams-Pyro sold the first new Microhood product in 2006.
Williams-Pyro’s repeated success in developing and delivering quality products is reflected in the recognition from our customers. Not only does StoveTop FireStop enjoy the support of Fire Chiefs and Fire Marshals across North America, but we have become standard items in multi-family residences owned by some of the NMHC’s Top 50 largest Property Management companies. Perhaps this quote from Dalcor Management’s Vice President says it best: “Since installing StoveTop FireStops, we have not had a stove fire which has resulted in damage exceeding our $2,500 insurance deductible. More importantly, there have been no injures…I personally believe these units should be mandatory equipment in any multifamily dwellings, and have had more than one fire inspector tell me the same.”
As Shontasia Scott prepared pork chops in her Chestnut Ridge apartment, she stepped away from the stove for a few seconds. When she got back, the grease-filled pan was on fire.
She panicked, but within seconds a StoveTop FireStop installed in the stove's vent activated. The flames were quickly extinguished, and the 17-year-old credits the device for saving her kitchen.
"It was a relief," she said. "They're really helpful."
During the last year, the Harrisonburg Fire Department has been installing the automatic fire suppressors in housing complexes near James Madison University that cater to college students.
The devices in the Chestnut Ridge apartments were installed by the property managers about five years ago, but this was the first time one had been put to the test at the complex.
Ginaly Vasquez, the property's community manager, said she's thankful the FireStop had been installed in the tenant's apartment.
"It's a life-saver," she said.
Capt. Arthur Miller of the Harrisonburg Fire Department said damage at the apartment was limited to $70 for cleanup costs. Had the device not been installed, Miller said, damage to the $300,000 building could have been much worse."
Reporter - The Daily News-Record
For fifty years WilliamsRDM has been an example of ingenuity and can-do spirit.
We’ve proven you don’t have to be big, to do big things—even big things that might, to some, seem small. Among all of the innovative products we’ve developed and manufactured over the years, none makes us more proud than a deceptively simple, ingenious little product we invented and have manufactured since 1972 called StoveTop FireStop. After hearing the story of a child who was horribly burned in a kitchen grease fire, the inspiration came overnight and began as a napkin sketch. Today, more than a million StoveTop FireStop units wait, out of sight, over residential cooktops across North America, ready to spring into action should the need arise—a simple, affordable solution that now protects so many.
For more about WilliamsRDM, visit www.williamsrdm.com