It used to be that creating more eco-friendly facilities was a smart way to save money on energy costs or a great way to show corporate responsibility. But now, being “green” has moved from initiative to protocol.
The global business community views becoming eco-friendly as gaining a competitive edge and rightly so. For example, Google merges their ecology strategy with their human health programs to create work environments that are both safe for human inhabitants and the natural world. Because of the strict policies needed to produce these types of environments, Google’s vendors must adopt similar policies to maintain their business relationship.
“At Google’s offices worldwide, we put all building products through a rigorous screening process to determine which adhere to our healthy building standards—and we purchase the products that best meet our stringent criteria. … We request full transparency from our vendors, requiring them to provide us with comprehensive product ingredient information from every point in the supply chain.“ To read more of Google’s commitment to the environment, click here.
Google is not alone in maintaining strict eco-policies and holding their vendors to the same corporate principals. An increasing number of companies are integrating voluntary certifications like Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and Energy Star as part of their environmental strategy. These companies recognize the advantage these labels give them in the marketplace.
With LEED certification, Best Buy gains the advantage of third-party verification. “We like that stamp of approval,” says Danielle Tallman, associate development manager at Best Buy. “It sets us apart from other retailers and allows us to promote the very tangible difference that we're making.” –Read More
Many times the responsibility of developing green initiatives and/or environmental certification compliance falls on those who manage an organization’s physical property. These demands, on top of regular building management responsibilities, are causing facility managers to feel tremendous pressure. And facility managers certainly need to know that fire protection must be an important part of their eco-friendly strategies.
Historically, those responsible for protecting critical assets have turned to Clean Agent Fire Extinguishing Systems. Clean Agents are colorless, odorless, non-conductive gases which leave no residue, thereby eliminating costly after-fire clean-up and keeping expensive downtime to a minimum. But today, facility managers must address the fact that many HFC-based chemical Clean Agents are high global warming potential gases. It has been estimated that buildings contribute 40-50% of greenhouse gas emissions globally; therefore, more and more organizations are seeking to reduce the use of products with a high global warming potential.
The good news is that technological advances in Clean Agent fire suppression have addressed the greenhouse gas concern. The 3M™ Novec 1230™ Fire Suppression Fluid contains a breakthrough compound that provides a significant environmental advantage over other HFC-based chemical Clean Agents. Novec 1230 has zero ozone depletion potential, a global warming potential of 1.0 and an atmospheric lifetime of just five days. Additionally, Novec 1230 offers one of the greatest margins of safety of any Clean Agent.
Different than most fire suppression agents, Novec 1230 is a liquid at room temperature. This clear liquid agent might look exactly like water, but won’t cause the type of damage usually associated with water when extinguishing a fire. Novec 1230 fluid is stored in pressurized cylinders like other Clean Agent fire suppression systems, and because of its low vapor pressure will instantly vaporize upon discharge. Novec 1230 systems require about the same number of agent storage containers as other halocarbon Clean Agents. This highly effective fire suppression system works by totally flooding the protected space with gaseous agent and extinguishes the fire by absorbing heat even better than water.
If your organization is seeking to improve business through eco-policy development, then you should consider fire protection as part of the strategy. Novec 1230 may be the best eco-friendly option for protecting your organization’s most critical assets and continuity of operation. Novec 1230 is just one way the fire protection industry is prepared to address the environmental sustainability challenges of today and tomorrow. To learn more about the 3M™ Novec 1230™ Fire Suppression Fluid and how it can help protect what matters most to you, contact one of our fire protection experts today. Click here to ASK THE EXPERT!
Traditional smoke detecting technology, such as beam detection or spot smoke detectors, has a history of being problematic in large open areas. These massive spaces have issues such as smoke stratification caused by high ceilings and/or dilution of the smoke due to high airflow making it difficult for conventional detection devices to operate. Not to mention the significant effort that is necessary just to test and inspect these devices per code requirements.
More importantly, traditional technologies in these large areas take too long to detect smoke. This makes it difficult to protect assets from the threat of fire in areas like power plants, warehouses, arenas, tunnels or in more unusual settings such as outdoor storage areas, lumberyards or trucking depots. Video Image Smoke Detection (VISD) can solve many of the problems associated with these massive spaces. VISD will detect the smoke at the source of the fire and doesn’t wait for smoke or heat to reach the detectors mounted all the way at the ceiling or other remote location.
Video Image Smoke Detection is an innovative detection technology that leverages digital video cameras and cutting edge video processing software. It is powerful, fast-acting, and can discriminate between flames and smoke. Best of all, VISD provides a video image that can be observed in real-time, helping responders quickly identify the location of the fire and make critical decisions such as when or where to evacuate. Just like other security devices, VISD systems allow for a digital recording of the event to be used by fire investigators and as a teaching tool on how to prevent fires in the future.
How VISD works: The technology originated in the security industry from other forms of video analysis. VISD systems are designed to detect flames and/or smoke, the most visible characteristics of a fire. The digital image captured by each camera is sent to a computer processor which analyzes the image. If the processor reads smoke or flames, it sends a signal to the fire alarm system, just like any other fire detector. Through years of testing and field installations, VISD’s software has become extremely reliable, limiting the number of false alarms and only detecting real fire events.
When Does VISD make sense?
- Large Volume Space with High Ceilings (+15’)
- High Value Assets
- Desire for Security
- Outdoor Fire Detection
- On Site Security & Monitoring
VISD for Flame Detection:One of the most unique features of VISD is the fact that it detects both smoke and flames. VISD cameras look at a fixed image for changes over time. Each pixel in the imageis analyzed for changes in brightness. When a pixel, or group of pixels, becomes brighter, the image processor software begins counting the flicker rate. When the software sees a flicker rate that it knows to be a flame, it sends an alarm signal to the fire alarm panel.
VISD for Smoke Detection: Smoke detection for VISD is much like flame detection whereby each pixel in the image is analyzed for changes. The digital image becomes less defined as smoke moves through the field of view of the camera. The image processor tracks the obscured pixels and watches their movement. If the obscured pixels move and have lift, like smoke moves, then the processor confirms the movement as smoke and sends an alarm signal to the fire alarm panel.
Active vs. Passive Detection: VISD does not wait for the smoke or flame to come to it; it is actively looking for any smoke or flame event. In comparison to passive detection technologies such as spot smoke detection or beam smoke detection, VISD responds faster. Third-party testing has shown that VISD has similar response times to other active smoke and fire detection technologies. One test conducted showed that VISD response time for a small smoke event was nearly as fast as air sampling smoke detection. Another test resulted in VISD detecting a flaming fire with equal speed to a UV/IR flame detector. VISD is worth consideration for protecting any large open area.
If you have an application where VISD is worth considering or have further questions, ORR’s experts can help. Click Here to Ask the Expert.
Also, check out these two excellent resources for learning more about Video Image Smoke Detection:
Your first question may be, why would this be important to me? Typically, during newconstruction or remodeling projects, it can be easy to overlook special requirements needed to protect an area with a Clean Agent Fire Suppression System. Making these construction improvements after the fact will add time, cost and mostly frustration to anyone working under a deadline. This “Check List” will save you time and money.
By no means is this an exhaustive list, but listed below are the major items which must be considered by you and your contractors.
General Contractor: Walls, Ceiling, & Floors
Porous block walls must be sealed slab-to-slab to prevent gas from passing through the block. Two or three coats of paint are typically required.
Protected areas should be enclosed with wall partitions which extend slab-to-slab. In areas where this is not possible, all ceiling tiles should be clipped down and openings caulked. Upgraded gypsum board ceiling tiles are recommended (Gridstone Fire-Shield).
All walls should be caulked around the inside perimeter of the room where the walls rest on the floor, where the walls intersect at the corners and where the walls intersect with the ceiling above.
Any penetration, including all conduit, cable trays, outlets, switches and wire troughs must be fire caulked and sealed.
If a raised floor continues out of the protected space, bulkheads must be installed under the floor directly under the partitions. These bulkheads must be caulked top and bottom.
All floor drains should have traps and the traps should be designed to have water in them at all times or charged with mineral oil.
Special attention should be given to sealing any cracks below the suspended ceiling.
General Contractor: Doors & Windows
All doors must have a threshold and/or sweep installed.
Egress doors should swing out of the protected space.
Doors may require weather stripping around the jam to ensure an air tight seal.
Latching mechanisms are necessary and door closers may be required.
If doors must remain open, an electromagnetic door holder will be required and released prior to agent discharge.
All types of windows or other types of openings must be fire caulked and sealed.
Mechanical Contractor: HVAC Specialties
To ensure the protected area is air tight, dampers may be required in the ductwork at the perimeter walls of each protected space.
Dampers must be spring loaded or motor operated to provide 100% air shut off.
All dampers are to be UL 555S to meet the 5% minimum leakage requirements.
All HVAC in the protected space shall be shutdown prior to agent discharge. Self-contained HVAC units may continue to run if approved by the AHJ.
HVAC shut down control relays should be installed to within 3 ft. of each unit.
All exhaust fans should be dampered. Fire alarm system control relays are used to shutdown any fans.
All fresh air intakes should be dampered and closed using fire alarm system control relays.
Electrical Contractor: Power and Interface Wiring
120 VAC dedicated 15 AMP circuit to the suppression control panel is required.
Power to all dampers – control relays within 3 ft. of damper.
Fire alarm monitoring - contacts for alarm, supervisory and trouble conditions are available within the fire control panel. Connection is handled by fire system contractor.
Purge system control wiring to HVAC units and exhaust fans are interfaced with the fire alarm system control panel. Connection is handled by the fire system contractor.
ORR Protection Systems is known by its customers as the “Mission Critical Fire Protection EXPERTS!” Please consider us a resource. If you have further questions about constructing a clean agent room, ask the EXPERT! Click Here
For our full downloadable contractors check list, click here.
Do I have to replace my Halon Suppression System?
No, there is no requirement to replace your Halon Fire Suppression System. In the mid ‘90s, the manufacturing of Halon was banned because of the environment effects of the gas. However, the use of Halon was not banned. In fact, there are hundreds of systems still in service. The agent can still be acquired through groups that reclaim and recycle the material for use on the market. The problem lies in the discontinued manufacturing and limited availability of replacement mechanical parts for Halon systems. The potential for experiencing a gap in fire protection due to mechanical problems exceeds acceptable risk for most organizations. It is this lack of Halon system parts that is the issue, not the use of Halon.
Is Halon Safe?
If you find yourself in a room during a fire hazard, the Halon discharge is safe and will not harm you. The fire protection industry has tried to get this message out for over 40 years, but we still find people today who think this gas is unsafe. The common mistaken belief is that Halon removes oxygen from the air. However, the Halon Alternative Research Corporation suggests that the agent chemically reacts with all three components of a fire (fuel, oxygen & ignition source) and not by removing the oxygen.
So, how safe is it? Extensive research has been performed on the toxicity of halocarbons over the years. In the past this research was performed by observing animal tests. Researchers tested and determined two main exposure levels of agent concentration, the NOAL (no observed adverse effect level) and the LOAEL (lowest observed adverse effect level). Most recently, research has used a method called the physiologically-based pharmacokinetic model or PBPK model for short to determine a more accurate evaluation of the length of time that a person can be exposed to a chemical. By these studies, concentration and time levels a human can safely be exposed to Halon 1301 have determined Halon 1301 to be a very safe extinguishing agent.
Can I still get Halon?
While Halon is no longer produced in the United States, the agent is readily available in the before mentioned recycled format. It is still permissible to recharge fire suppression systems with Halon today, as well as into the foreseeable future. In fact, there is no requirement in the United States forcing system owners to remove a Halon system from service. However, Halon system parts are very limited, and in some cases, not available at all.
Is Halon Restricted?
Although some states are banning the sale of certain hand-held extinguishers for non-commercial uses, the answer is generally no. However, effective January 1, 1994, the production and importation of new Halon was banned in the developed world through an international agreement called the Montreal Protocol. Careful use and conservation of Halon is, therefore, important so that existing supplies will be sufficient to meet all future needs.
If you have more questions about Halon or other fire protection needs, ORR Protection Systems is known for being “Mission Critical Fire Protection EXPERTS,” please consider us a resource. Click here the button below to ”Ask the EXPERT!"
For the answers to more frequently asked fire protection question,
Do I Have to Report Halon Discharges to the EPA?
No, but many regulations and rulings have been put into place to prevent intentional release and reduce emissions. For instance, federal regulations (40 CFR Part 82.270(f)) require owners of Halon systems to be responsible for maintaining this equipment in order to prevent Halon release.
How Do I Recycle My Halon?
If Halon is still contained in cylinders, the Halon can be reclaimed for reuse. Some Halon distributors and users have been doing this for many years, long before Halon emissions were identified as an environmental problem. Since current legislation prohibits the production or importation of new Halon into the U.S., recycled Halon is now the only source of supply and it is a highly recommended practice. In fact, the reclaiming and recycling of Halon has won “national” and “international” awards for its efforts to reduce Halon emissions into the atmosphere.
Simply by contacting your fire suppression service company, you can have them remove the Halon. The fire suppression industry, in conjunction with EPA, formed a non-profit organization to assist in Halon recycling. The Halon Recycling Corporation (HRC) acts as a facilitating organization by providing information services to match companies who have a surplus of Halon with those companies who have an ongoing need for the fire fighting agent.
High Volume Low Speed (HVLS) fans are a great addition to any large facility or warehouse. They are an energy efficient supplement to expensive HVAC systems, moving large amounts of air helping employees stay comfortable and productive. As a growing number of facilities are now incorporating these fans, fire protection engineers are concerned about their effect on sprinkler system operation. Many experts fear these fans will delay sprinkler operation, possibly overwhelm the sprinkler system, and cause a larger fire than necessary. New research has focused on addressing those concerns.
While it is known that high airflow makes a fire more intense, it has taken some time to understand the impact these HVLS fans have on sprinkler performance in warehouses and other storage occupancies. The Fire Protection Research Foundation directed a collaborative industry research effort to study the issue and provide direct input to update the applicable NFPA standards. This two-part project was awarded the 2012 Fire Protection Research Foundation medal by NFPA. The report from the most recent study was issued in January 2011.
The central problem uncovered during the study and fire testing was the unnecessary fire damage that occured when the fans were not shutdown. The study showed sprinklers will activate while the blades rotate and the down-flow of air increases fire damage to contents requiring more sprinklers to operate to control the fire. Fire test results showed less damage when the fans were shut down upon sprinkler activation.The research results are guiding new code requirements within NFPA 13, the Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems. The 2013 edition of the standard will be issued next year. NFPA technical committee documents indicate that the following code changes will be issued for sprinkled warehouses with HVLS fans.
Maximum allowable fan diameter of 24 feet.
Fans must be approximately centered between four adjacent sprinklers.
There must be a 3 foot minimum clearance from the sprinkler deflector to the fan.
Fans must be interlocked to shut down immediately upon receiving a water flow signal from the fire alarm system.
These requirements will be placed in the NFPA 13 chapter on storage occupancies. Undoubtedly, there are other types of occupancies where HVLS fans are installed; however, all indications are that the code will not address those locations in the new edition.
If you have further questions about the effects of HVLS fans on sprinkler systems, information regarding NFPA 13 or industrial fire suppresison, click here to Ask the Experts at ORR Protection Systems.
What are you hoping to accomplish?
Clearly define and understand your fire protection goals before you begin selecting a fire protection system. Stephen Covey said it best, “start with the end in mind.” Life safety should always be on the top of our list, but in business, there are a significant number of other considerations we need to contemplate. Are you trying to minimize fire-related injuries and prevent undue loss of life? Is the goal to reduce fire-related damage to the building, its contents and its historical features and attributes? What about protecting against undue loss of operations and business-related revenue due to fire-related damage? Are you trying to limit environmental impact of fire and fire protection measures? If you are working for a client, be aware of any special needs they may have.
What can you afford to lose?
Sometimes discussing fire protection is much like drawing up a will or applying for life insurance. It makes us reflect on worst case scenarios we typically don’t want to think about, let alone discuss out loud. But the fact is, up to 40% of businesses affected by a natural or human-caused disaster never reopen according to ready.gov. So, when you begin to consider a fire protection system you have to be able to identify your tolerable level of loss. You start with potential injuries to people, then damage to facilities, downtime of critical equipment, loss of data and business interruption are critical items to contemplate.
What are your physical limitations?
It is extremely important to understand your site environment. This will directly affect the performance level of the fire protection you choose. Here are a few things to consider. Identify all the potential hazards you need to protect against. Understand the building construction constraints. Become familiar with all of the environmental conditions; for example in a data center there are airflow, temperature and equipment density issues to consider. Location of high value equipment may pose some additional challenges in fire protection, so planning ahead is critical. Also, consider emergency services, availability, and access to your facility and their response times. Give your local fire department a call, they want to help.
Prevention, Detection and Suppression, what do I need?
Once you have answered the previous questions, you can begin to evaluate a fire protection solution that meets you business needs. To accomplish this, you need to consider the various fire protection technologies and how their performance aligns with your protection goals. Like anything else in life, the more protection you want, the higher the cost. So this is when you start evaluating the acceptable level of loss verses the cost of protecting your assets.
Prevention: This should go without saying, but your cheapest insurance against having a loss due to a fire is to first take the necessary steps to prevent a fire. Depending on your facility, this can be as easy as not allowing new computer equipment to be unpacked in the data center, but outside the protected room. Styrofoam, cardboard and paper are all highly flammable, but we see data center rooms every day that have them stacked in a corner and left for days, if not weeks and months.
Detection and Suppression: This is when involving a fire protection professional can save you time and money, not to mention offering the best protection for the money invested. With that said, here is a helpful chart that will provide you some guidance on your fire protection options. In future blogs, we will explore in more detail various fire Detection and Suppression systems.
Click here for a helpful chart from www.orrprotection.com to help you visualize how the different technologies work together, providing proper fire protection in various environments. If you have further questions about how to choose the right fire protection technology for your facility, click here to Ask the Experts at ORR Protection Systems.
For more than 20 years, cross-zone detection has been a best practice for the design of fire suppression systems. Cross-zone detection is all about verified detection or the requirement for two detectors in alarm before activating the release sequence. Detectors which rely on smoke to alarm can be more sensitive to ambient factors such as dirt and dust which cause false alarms. Because of this, cross-zone release has been the industry standard when smoke detectors are involved in the automatic actuation of fire suppression systems such as Pre-Action Sprinkler or Clean Agent. However, many fire suppression system owners don’t understand the various installation and programming options available to them.
Single vs. Multiple Detection Methods
A common cross-zone detection technique involves the use of a two different methods of fire detection with each assigned to a separate zone. The advantage of this approach is an increased assurance that a fire is present before releasing the suppression agent. The table below lists several examples of cross-zone detection arrangements utilizing multiple detection methods.
A typical approach involves the cross-zoning of spot smoke detection like ionization and photoelectric type smoke detectors. The characteristics of an ionization detector make it ideal for detecting fast flaming fires which produce smaller particles of combustion. Photoelectric detectors are most suited for slow smoldering fires that tend to produce larger smoke particulates. Depending on the type of fire, the response times will vary for these two types of detectors, but eventually both will detect the fire. Cross-zone detection utilizing multiple detection methods minimizes the potential for a false alarm to result in a non-fire discharge of the suppression agent.
Alternatively, some cross-zone detection designs utilize only one type of detector. Many refer to this as a “counting-zone” since the control logic involves counting the number of detectors in alarm. This approach can only be accomplished with an intelligent fire alarm system using addressable panels having the unique ability to indentify individual detectors in alarm and the software intelligence to “count” them. When an alarm signal is received from the first detector, this constitutes a pre-alarm condition for the fire suppression system. Once a second detector initiates an alarm signal, the control panel will begin the release sequence.
Conventional vs. Addressable Control Panels
With a conventional fire alarm system, cross-zone detection always requires the installation of two physical detection circuits. Detectors are arranged such that adjacent detectors are separated into two individual circuits or zones (see Figure 1). In other words, half of the detectors are installed to Circuit 1 and the other half are installed to Circuit 2. The control panel is configured to activate a pre-alarm signal if one or more detectors alarm on a single zone. Once a detector initiates an alarm signal on the second zone, the control panel will begin the release sequence.
On the other hand, cross-zone detection with an addressable control panel does not depend on the use of multiple individual circuits. Rather each detector is assigned a unique identifier (address) and transmits alarm signal data including this address to the control panel. Programming the control panel for cross-zone logic involves separating adjacent detectors by assigning them each to one of two software zones. In other words, half of the detectors are assigned to Software Zone 1 and the other half are assigned to Software Zone 2 (see Figure 2). Once the first detector alarms, the control panel recognizes the software zone it belongs to and activates a pre-alarm signal. As other detectors alarm concurrently, the control panel continues checking for their software zone assignment. Once an alarm signal is received from a detector assigned to the second (alternate) software zone, the control panel will begin the release sequence.
Air Sampling Smoke Detection
When designing a fire suppression system for the protection of a data center or telecommunication facility, it is important to balance the need for the earliest warning possible with the need to prevent an unnecessary suppression release. For this reason, an increasing number of fire protection designers are now incorporating Air Sampling Smoke Detection (ASSD) into the cross-zone detection scheme. In many cases, ASSD is cross-zoned with spot-type photoelectric smoke detectors to trigger the suppression system. ASSD is capable of detecting very low concentrations of smoke and will offer the earliest possible warning of a fire in most mission-critical facilities. This cross-zone detection technique involves configuring the ASSD as Zone 1 and the spot-type smoke detectors as Zone 2. Typically, an alarm signal will be received from the ASSD first and will act as a pre-alarm condition for the fire suppression system. Often times, facility personnel will have several minutes or more to respond and possibly stop the fire in its incipient stage. If not, then the initiation of an alarm from a spot-type smoke detector will further verify the presence of a growing fire and trigger the release of the suppression system.
Incorporating cross-zone detection into the design of a fire suppression system makes good sense. The question you must answer is: What options and configurations are most appropriate for my application? If you want some help answering that question, contact one of our many fire protection professionals. ORR Protection Systems has proven experience assisting hundreds of companies with the design of cross-zone detection systems. If you have further questions regarding cross-zone detection, ask the EXPERT! Click Here
The jet suddenly dips. Ding! The little seatbelt light comes on. The flight attendant’s voice lilts, “The Captain has turned on the fasten seat belts sign….” Rough flights, we’ve all been there. It’s a relief to be on the ground after one of those. Any landing that doesn’t end in a massive fireball always makes me think about how happy I am to have a good pilot at the yoke.
Clean Agent: An electrically nonconducting, volatile, or gaseous fire extinguishant that does not leave a residue upon evaporation.
|Halocarbon Agent: An agent that contains as primary components one or more organic compounds containing one or more of the elements fluorine, chlorine, bromine, or iodine. Examples: FM-200, FE-25 (ECARO-25), and Novec 1230.
|Inert Gas Agent: An agent that contains as primary components one or more of the gases helium, neon, argon, or nitrogen. Inert gas agents that are blends of gases can also contain carbon dioxide as a secondary component. Examples: Argonite, Inergen, and ProInert.
So besides the lavatory smoke detectors, how else do aviation and fire protection mix? Often they meet in commercial flight simulators used to keep pilots’ skills sharp. Flight simulators are large pieces of equipment typically the size of a jetliner nosecone. Computers, controls, hydraulic cylinders, and other mechanisms make up these complex, costly machines. Simulators are critical to the mission of corporate aviation programs. They are property worth protecting with the best extinguishing systems, clean agents.
Simulators also present a special challenge in applying clean agent systems because they are leaky spaces with low ceilings. They are loaded with external equipment attachments, removable access panels, and maintenance doors. Normally, preparing a room for clean agents requires proper design, construction, and a room integrity test where leaks are found and sealed. These rooms must be able to ensure retention of the clean agent for a sufficient time to extinguish the fire. When a system is installed for protection of a simulator, it undergoes a room integrity test like any other protected space. The physical construction of a simulator makes agent retention challenging, so selecting the right fire suppression agent is crucial.
Generally during a standard fire suppression system discharge, the agent fills the space like water poured into a bucket. If the room has leaks (holes in the bucket), the gas seeps out in proportion to the area of the leaks. Additionally, the weight of the gas contributes to the speed of the outflow. Excluding Nitrogen gas, all clean agents are heavier than air. Halocarbons are the heaviest agents. The weight of inert gas agents like Fike Pro-Inert, Fenwal Argonite or Ansul Inergen more closely approximate normal air and evacuate slower than halocarbon agents. As you can see in the example below, the calculated retention time for Inergen (inert gas agent) is longer than FM-200 (halocarbon agent), given the same area of leakage.
This is why inert gasses are a good choice for flight simulators. When a space cannot be sealed properly the properties of inert gas clean agents can ensure an acceptable retention time. While there is a limit to the size of leaks that they can overcome, inert gasses exhibit retention time advantages in many cases when compared to halocarbons.
Don’t forget some other reasons to choose inert gas agents: zero negative environmental impact, maximum visibility for occupants during egress, and small pipe sizes.
If you have an application that you know is leaky but will require high-performance fire suppression, like a flight simulator, contact one of ORR’s fire protection experts today!
One thing is for certain, there has been a lot of progress made in the fire protection industry over the years. New technologies have emerged over the past few years that we want to highlight for you as possible solutions for old and new applications. NFPA codes and standards have been updated in recent editions to recognize and accept the use of these emerging fire protection technologies.
We know water mist is not a new technology. It began to have commercial use in the US Market in the ‘80s; however, a new class of high pressure water mist system has helped this product move from more industrial environments to more sensitive applications like museums, hotels and data centers. Systems like Marioff HI-FOG Water Mist work by releasing a fine water mist at high velocity which cools the space, blocks radiant heat and reduces the oxygen reaching the fire. Watch this great video explaining the process a bit further. Click Here
Novec 1230 Clean Agent
Those looking to make a green fire protection choice should consider 3M™, Novec 1230 fire protection fluid. 3M™ introduced this eco-friendly clean agent fire suppression product 10 years ago to address a global desire to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This emerging product offers a unique combination of safety, low environmental impact, and a high degree of extinguishing performance. Watch this video to see how it works. Click Here
Video Image Smoke Detection
Video Image Smoke Detection (VISD) is a true breakthrough in fire protection. This technology is based on the computer analysis of video images provided by digital surveillance cameras. In large open area facilities with high ceilings, traditional smoke and fire detection methods are impractical, ineffective and difficult to maintain. High airflow and smoke stratification can prevent smoke from reaching spot-type smoke detectors. VISD is different because it visually detects the presence of smoke at its source, independent of airflow in the area. This technology not only provides an early-warning fire alarm signal, but also provides those monitoring the video the opportunity to respond more effectively. Watch this video to learn more about this emerging technology. Click Here
Exit Point Audible Notification
Exit Point Audible Notification, is a very unique product which unfortunately has not been overly accepted in the marketplace. I say unfortunately, because if you really study Exit Point, it has some phenomenal life safety features not found in any other product. Exit Point acts as an audible exit sign that helps building occupants pinpoint the nearest exit location and guides them to the building exit quickly and safely, even when visibility is impaired. This technology uses “directional” sound devices which produce special audible characteristics allowing the human ear to easily determine the direction the sound is coming from. In an emergency situation, speedy evacuation is critical. This product can potentially reduce evacuation times by 75%. Click here to learn more.
To learn more about these future trends and emerging technologies, be sure to check out this great educational tool developed by ORR Protection Systems. Click Here
ORR Protection will host a Lunch & Learn team training program discussing future trends and emerging fire protection technologies at your location and we provide the lunch! Whether you select one or many of our most popular topics or even request a different fire protection subject, we look forward to serving your team at no cost to you. Follow the link below to register for this or any of our other educational programs. Click Here
Clean agent fire extinguishing systems are governed by NFPA 2001 Standard on Clean Agent Fire Extinguishing Systems. On September 2, 2011 the NFPA Standards Council approved the 2012 edition of this standard which contains a few important changes. Included in the new edition are increases to the minimum design concentration of the clean agent gases.
Previously, the minimum design concentration was simply the minimum extinguishing concentration (MEC) multiplied by a safety factor of 1.2. The MEC is determined by the results of an approved Underwriters Laboratory test protocol. A unique test standard is used to determine the concentration for extinguishing Class A (ordinary combustibles) fires. Another test standard called the “cup burner test” is used to determine the concentration for extinguishing Class B (flammable liquid) fires. It’s important to note that in previous editions of the standard, the minimum design concentration was the same for both Class A and Class C (energized electrical) fire hazards. Changes were made in the new edition to differentiate between these two fire hazards.
The first important change involves the minimum design concentration for Class A surface fire hazards. Beginning now, the concentration used for protection of Class A fuels may not be less than the minimum extinguishing concentration for the flammable liquid heptane as determined using the Class B cup burner test. The result of this change is that the minimum design concentrations will increase for all clean agents other than the inert gases. Inert gas clean agents such as Inergen and Argonite will not change. For a summary of these changes, see column 2 of the table below.
A second important change involves an increase in the minimum design concentration for protection of Class C electrically energized fire hazards. While no specific test standard exists for determining the concentration required to extinguish a Class C fire, the NFPA 2001 standard has always required it to be “at least that for Class A surface fires.” For several years, the NFPA 2001 Technical Committee has discussed and debated the need to make adjustments for extinguishment of fires which are augmented by electrical energy. The committee agreed to increase the concentrations after considering laboratory test data, alignment with the ISO (Europe) standard and an extensive literature review. Beginning in the 2012 edition, the minimum design concentrations for protection of Class C hazards will be the MEC multiplied by a safety factor of 1.35.
Designers and installers must now used an increased concentration of agent for protection of spaces such as Data Centers or Telecom facilities in cases where the electrical equipment cannot practically be de-energized prior to discharge. For a summary of these changes, see column 3 of the table below.
The prescribed Class C design concentrations cannot be used when the protected space contains an energized electrical hazard supplied at greater than 480 volts. If equipment supplied with greater than 480 volts must remain powered after discharge, then the standard requires the design concentration be determined by a hazard analysis and additional testing.
When considering the impact of these changes, it’s important to remember that they are not retroactive. Once the new edition of NFPA 2001 becomes required by your state or local building code or other authority having jurisdiction, then all new systems must be installed using these increased concentrations. Existing systems are not required to be upgraded to meet these new requirements. If you have further questions about these changes, don’t hesitate to contact one of our fire protection experts for answers.