The ceremonial flame at the core of the Memorial honors the sacrifices of the nation’s brave soldiers. It’s a timeless and emotionally powerful way to pay tribute to America’s disabled veterans.
While the flame itself is a simple concept, the technology behind the scenes incorporates highly sophisticated control features, according to Monty Lunde, President and CEO of Technifex, the company that designed, engineered and fabricated the complex stainless steel framework and electronically controlled flame system.
Technifex designed a durable and secure system with an easy-to-operate control touchpad. “The flame is built to the same high standards we would apply to a theme park attraction,” Lunde says. ”We know that making repairs is time-consuming and expensive, so we have included numerous monitoring and maintenance functions.”
For example, the system has dual igniters to keep the flame burning even if one igniter goes out. A series of internal monitors ensures a smooth flow of gas to the flame and quickly detects any potential leaks. In addition, the control system is tied into the Internet, allowing the Technifex team to provide remote troubleshooting services for the National Park Service, which operates the flame system. “If the problem is related to the system’s software, we can even download fixes from our end,” Lunde says.
For the safety of children, adults and animals, Technifex designed a gas cut-off feature triggered by pressure pads built into the display’s stainless steel framework. Any weight put on the system will automatically stop the gas flow and turn off the flame. “That’s one of the more sophisticated features we’ve included in this design,” Lunde says. “The system will also monitor wind speeds and automatically shut the flame down under dangerous conditions.”
By harnessing the power of imagination, coupled with extensive design and engineering experience, Technifex is making a lasting contribution to the Memorial. As Lunde says, “With the flame burning in the middle of the running water, the presentation is gorgeous, creating a truly memorable experience for visitors.”
Lunde, who co-founded Valencia, California-based Technifex in 1984, was a special effects designer for Walt Disney Imagineering, and holds several patented technologies. Today, Technifex is a world leader in unique special effect systems, producing live and simulated fire features, as well as mechanical simulations, visual illusions, and other entertainment features, for major attractions at Disneyland, Universal Studios, Paramount Parks and many other clients. Through the years, Technifex has received numerous awards for excellence in production, design and engineering.