High value/high risk computer and server rooms invariably require the protection of a fire detection and gas extinguishing, gas suppression system or water mist system to protect such valuable equipment, whilst also protecting the ongoing function of the business.
Chemical gas suppression systems consist of a fire detection and activation system linked to a pre-determined store of gas. When a fire is detected the release of the gas is activated. Systems are usually ‘total flood systems’ which means the whole protected risk area is filled to achieve a specific design concentration suppressing the fire. Local application systems are also available to discharge gas directly at a specific risk.
How does chemical gas suppress fire?
Chemical/Synthetic gas suppresses fire by removing the heat element of the fire triangle. As chemical gases such as FM200 or Novec 1230 work by chemical reaction rather than oxygen reduction, there is a saving in the amount of agent when compared with inert gases. This can reduce the foot print required when available space is tight.
Will the gas be discharged if there is a false alarm?
For total flood systems the detection and activation system generally consists of a network of detectors configured to achieve coincidence operation. This is also known as double knock. Once the first detector senses fire the system goes into first stage alarm. At this point any potential causes of fire can be investigated. The system can then be reset or it will remain in first stage until a second detector senses fire. Upon a second detector sensing fire the system activates second stage alarm and begins a countdown to gas discharge.
Early warning can also be achieved by installing a High Sensitivity Smoke Detection (HSSD) Aspiration system. Potential fires can then be investigated early to prevent unnecessary gas discharge.
What if I'm in the room when the gas is about to discharge?
The systems control panel has a key operated switch to enable the selection of manual or automatic mode. Before entering a room protected by a gaseous suppression system, the mode should be set to manual. The system will now not progress into second stage should fire be detected.
Discharge hold off buttons are also installed within the protected risk to ensure that the discharge countdown can be halted and reset while the cause of activation is investigated.
Risk Management assessments and Insurance Company requirements invariably lead to a necessity to detect fire and provide fire control measures.