Clean Agent Fire Suppression

NFPA (The National Fire Protection Association) defines “clean agents” as “an electrically non-conducting, volatile, or gaseous fire extinguishant that does not leave a residue upon evaporation.” A clean agent fire suppression system consists of the agent storage containers, release valves, heat detectors, control panel, piping, and discharge nozzles.

Clean agent fire suppressions systems are typically installed in locations where an automatic fire suppression system is desired, but the discharge of water into the room from a standard water based sprinkler system is undesirable. These locations could be clean rooms, archive file storage rooms, IT rooms, data centers, electrical equipment rooms, etc.

In the past Halon was the primary clean agent used in these systems and clean agent systems are still referred to as “Halon” systems by some users. However, as an ozone depleting chemical, the production of Halon was ceased under the Clean Air Act of 1994. In lieu of Halon, many other clean agents are currently on the market. The most common clean agents used today are FM-200, FE-25, Inergen, and Novec 1230.

During the design and installation of a clean agent system the proper containment of the clean agent in the area of discharge must be considered. Doors should be sealed, automatic dampers should be installed in ductwork, partitions should be extended to deck and be sealed properly, pipe penetrations into the room should be sealed, and block walls should be painted. In most cases, the clean agent must remain in the room for 10 minutes at its designed concentration to guarantee extinguishing of the flame. So preventing leakage of the gas outside of the protected area is critical.

If you have questions regarding what type of clean agent is right for your facility or if you need assistance with the design of a clean agent fire suppression system, please contact Eric Sellers, PE at 717-845-7654 or eps@ba-inc.com.

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