Frequently Asked Questions
How does an Ansul system work?
Is a fire extinguisher a fire suppression system?
What is the difference between fire protection and fire suppression?
What gas is used in fire suppression systems?
Carbon Dioxide or CO2 suppression systems are most suitable for unstaffed data storage rooms, hazardous material storage areas, and other similar places that have little to no human occupancy. This is because carbon dioxide, which has an extremely high density, smothers the fire by removing the oxygen it needs to continue burning. This happens quickly and you do not want anyone to be trapped in the room when all oxygen is removed.
Another type of fire suppression system is the clean agent FM-200® which uses hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) to put out fires. The FM-200 system extinguishes combustible, electrical, and flammable liquid fires in 10 seconds or less through heat absorption, breaking the fire triangle (heat—oxygen—fuel). The industry moved away from similar Halon systems and toward FM-200 systems when halon was banned by the US Environmental Protection Agency in 1989 due to ozone depletion potential. The HFCs in FM-200 were found to have a low ozone depletion potential.
A similar system with an extremely low ozone depletion level and highest margin of environmental safety is the NOVEC 1230®. This clean agent system was originally developed as a replacement for Halon systems and the HFCs found in FM-200s. Halocarbons are a family of chemicals that can be found in a NOVEC 1230. These chemicals are stored as a fluid and are vaporized when discharged. This process acts similarly to an FM-200 in that they extinguish the fire by rapid cooling.
For hazards with low temperatures and high ceiling heights, the FE-13® is a high-pressure clean agent manufactured by DuPont that leaves no residue when discharged. It is used mainly for Class A, B, and C fires like industrial high ceiling spaces, locomotives, unheated storage areas, and oil platforms. It is reactive with some metals, however, so it is important to consult a fire protection expert to decide if this system is right for your facility.
For a system with naturally occurring gases, Argonite™ consists of 50% Nitrogen and 50% Argon. Together, this mixture extinguishes fires by reducing the oxygen in a room while still being safe for humans and the environment. According to Kidde, a manufacturer of Argonite suppression systems, it is best used in applications such as: flight simulators, substations, and control rooms.
The last alternative in fire suppression is an Inergen system. This system uses inert, clean agent gases like nitrogen, argon, and carbon dioxide (CO2) to reduce the oxygen in a fire, thus suppressing it. While this action of suppression is similar to a CO2 suppression system, it is much safer to use around people due to the different concentration of gases.