What is Clean Agent Fire Suppression?

October 9 2020

What is Clean Agent Fire Suppression?

You're probably familiar with buildings being equipped with fire safety systems including fire alarms, fire extinguishers, and fire sprinkler systems in order to protect lives and assets. These are some of the most common fire alert and protection systems in use in today's commercial facilities. However, some buildings also require special hazards fire protection systems to properly protect items.

For example, even if the electronics in a server room aren't damaged in a fire, they'll surely be damaged by water. Buildings with server rooms, museums, libraries, storage vaults, and even gas stations all need specialized systems in order to contain a potential fire, while not damaging items.

Clean agent fire suppression systems are a safe, effective way to protect facilities that house valuable and delicate goods.

How does Clean Agent Fire Suppression Work?

Clean agent fire suppression systems use gases that are safe for both humans and the environment in order to put out a fire. The systems are ideal for all occupied spaces that hold valuables (like museums, libraries, data storage centers, and so on). These systems help extinguish fires after they've been detected.

NFPA 2001 clearly defines clean agents as electrically non-conductive, volatile, or gaseous fire extinguishing agents that do not leave a residue upon evaporation. Clean agent fire suppression systems help extinguish fires in their incipient stages (when they have just started).

The Benefits of Clean Agent Fire Suppression Systems

Clean agent systems offer fast-acting suppression in the event of a fire. These systems can be dispersed and subsequently reach required concentration levels in just ten seconds. They are also designed with fire extinguishment in mind, whereas sprinklers and other safety measures focus on fire containment.

Clean agent fire suppression systems also leave minimal cleanup and residue. These systems offer chemical and gaseous fire suppression solutions that don't damage furniture or objects due to the chemical and gaseous makeup of the fire suppression solution.

Clean agent fire suppression systems are people-safe, too. The clean agents they utilize have been approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use in normally occupied spaces. There are even different options to meet different needs. "Green" systems, for example, might be ideal for organizations trying to meet eco-friendly standards or prioritize environmentally-friendly practices.

What Facilities Should Have Clean Agent Fire Suppression Systems Installed?

Some examples of facilities that commonly use clean agent fire suppression systems include:

  • Laboratories and medical facilities with equipment
  • Spaces that house critical building infrastructure
  • Flammable liquid storage areas
  • Museums
  • Digital data repositories and record repositories
  • Libraries
  • Telecommunication centers
  • Server rooms

It's easy to see what these have in common: all of the facilities house valuable assets. Protecting valuables is far from the only application for clean agent fire suppression systems, though. You can use a clean agent fire suppression system to help protect facilities from fire regardless of what's inside.

Clean Agent Fire Suppression System Inspections & Maintenance

Clean agent fire suppression systems are required to undergo regular inspections and maintenance. It's an integral part of ensuring the systems can help keep people and property safe. The inspection process for clean agent and CO2 systems are as follows:

  • Check all initiating devices and verify time delays for system discharge 
  • Ensure releasing device activates properly
  • Verify abort device and manual release are functioning 
  • Check weight and/or pressure of agent containers
  • Verify the orientation of all discharge, pipe fittings, and nozzles
  • Perform enclosure integrity test
  • Check batteries and signal 
  • Verify the as-built drawings and flow calculations

A clean agent fire suppression system is only as beneficial to safety as its own safety status. It's important to make sure these systems are well-maintained and inspected to promote functionality. With that in mind, according to the NFPA 2001, the maintenance schedule for a clean agent fire suppression system should be:

  • Every 6 Months: Verify clean agent cylinder weight.
  • Every Year: Test all clean agent system control panel equipment including initiating devices and equipment. Room integrity testing should also be performed.
  • Every 5 Years: Inspect containers, reducing the likelihood of needing to perform a hydrostatic test.

According to the NFPA 12, the maintenance schedule for a CO2 system should be:

  • Every 6 Months: Verify the CO2 cylinder weight and pressure.
  • Every Year: Test all components of the CO2 control panel including initiating devices and equipment as required by the NFPA 12 Standard on CO2 Fire Suppression Systems.
  • Every 5 Years: Conduct a hydrostatic test if cylinders holding the agent have been previously emptied.
  • Every 12 Years: Conduct a 12-year hydrostatic test if cylinders have never been emptied or the system has never discharged. 

Is a Clean Agent Fire Suppression System Right for Your Building?

The best clean agent fire suppression system for your unique application depends on a lot of individual factors. Choosing the ideal system is a complex process. It's important to consider cost, upgrades, eco-friendliness, and other similar aspects of a system during the decision-making stages.

Here's what to prioritize: finding a clean agent fire suppression system from a professional fire protection company. You can work with industry experts to determine which system is best for you. Plus, you'll know that the products and services you received came from people who are experts in the field. Reputable fire safety companies can help design a system to meet your building needs, and provide routine maintenance, or repair when needed.

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