Jan 31, 2022
On episode 27 of Fire Code Tech we are speaking about Clean Agent Fire Suppression Systems. This solocast breaks down codes and standards around Clean Agent systems. In addition, we break down the pros and cons of these systems and some common design considerations.
Hello. Welcome to the solo cast of fire code tech in these episodes. It's just gonna be me, your host, Gus Gagliardi. There's gonna be a range of topics, but I'm gonna talk about specific technologies, installation, standards, codes, and how they work as well as some other interesting topics that don't neatly fit inside of the context of a normal interview.
Hello, all welcome to episode 27 of fire code tech. On this episode, we're talking about queen agent systems. This episode is dedicated to one of the alternative methods of fire suppression and some of the different topics around the subject. As always, we're going to get into the codes and standards associated with clean agent systems, the type of clean agent systems.
Um, and some of the design considerations for these systems, don't forget to hit that subscribe button, wherever you listen to podcasts and also follow us on social media. Also, if you could give us a five star rate and review on apple podcasts, I would greatly appreciate that. Let's get into the show.
Let's define what a clean agent system is. Clean agent is defined as in NFPA 2001, which is the NFPA standard for clean agent extinguishing systems as a volatile or gases fire extinguishment that is electrically non conducting. And that does not leave a residue upon evaporation. So why is this important?
If you have a very valuable asset, such as a data center, or say a museum collection storage application, and you have, uh, critical operations or pieces of property and, or, uh, life safety equipment that are so critical and so valuable that you want to go above and beyond the, uh, letter of the. And provide, uh, additional fire suppression in order to sort of short circuit, the fire sprinkler system and save your asset and limit your loss potential.
Uh, clean agent is the option for you. So clean agent is a gassiest suppression system. And one of the common misconceptions is that, uh, you can apply a clean agent system in order to. Omit your fire sprinkler protection requirements in the building code, and that's not true. And it's probably one of my most frequently asked questions about clean agent systems is, oh, well, if we have a Gaius suppression system, can we eliminate the use of water based suppression inside of my high value asset, uh, room or protection?
The answer is no, without explicit a variance without an explicit variance from the authority, having jurisdiction, you cannot eliminate, uh, water based fire suppression. If it is required in a room. Furthermore, if you do obtain a variance and, you know, eliminate water based suppression for a room in lieu of clean agent systems.
Or any alternative, uh, fire extinguishing system, you are negating the benefits that are attained through having a fully sprinkled building there's specific language in the, in the building code, um, in 9 0 4, which is the code section we're gonna be talking about that speaks to the code requirements around clean agent systems.
Just a quick recap on, uh, some of the topics we've covered so far. First of all, we talked about the NFPA standard that governs the installation of clean agent systems, which is N FPA 2001. And now we're going to talk about the code section that has requirements for clean agent systems, which is, uh, chapter nine more specifically section 9 0 4, which is alternative fire extinguishing systems.
So alternative fire extinguishing systems act a little bit different than, uh, let's say fire alarm or fire sprinkler systems, where there are a bunch of explicit requirements for when these systems are, uh, needed in chapter nine, section 9 0 4, there are some different sections in here, which we will speak to when these systems are required.
Like for, uh, kitchen, suppression systems. But for a clean agent, there's not gonna be an explicit requirement in chapter nine for when these systems are required. So you might ask, how do we know when these systems are required? The answer is they're not required by code, but they can be used as a additional suppression mechanism in order to safeguard high value assets.
There are a couple different broad types of clean agent systems. The first are, uh, hydrocarbon gases and, uh, HFCs like, uh, FM 200 systems are made out of, um, manmade man manufactured like combinations of gases in order to be used as a gases suppress suppressant. Then there are, uh, inert gases, um, such as systems like Intergen, which is a proprietary blend of inert gases, like nitrogen argon, and carbon dioxide, depending on the, uh, protection, you know, what you're protecting and, um, you know, what kind of space is going to be.
Uh, used and some other factors like cost and configuration of the room. Um, you'll select one of these gases suppressant, gassiest suppressants, and, uh, this will dictate the rest of your design, including design concentration, and, uh, a number of other factors. Specifically, when we're talking about code sections that are applicable to clean agent systems in the 2018 version of the international building code, uh, section 9 0 4 point 10 specifically is titled clean agent system and points to N FPA 2001 for the, uh, listing insulation and maintenance requirements for clean agent systems.
Just for the sake of conversation and the additional information for if you're looking for code requirements for other alternative automatic fire extinguishing systems, other system types that can be found in chapter 9 0 4. Uh, section 9 0 4 are wet Kim systems, dry chemical systems, foam systems, carbon dioxide systems, halo systems, which these have been deprecated, but there may still be some of these systems installed, uh, water missed systems, uh, cooking, hood, fire suppression systems.
And this one I had never really heard much about, but aerosol fire extinguishing systems. So I can't think of any systems that I've ever. Been in the design process for that have been, uh, used aerosolized fire extinguishing systems. So that's a little strange, I wanted to speak a little bit about the pros and cons of clean agent systems to give you some context for when you want to apply these systems or give counsel to building owners for when these systems are a good idea.
Um, since there are not as clear cut, uh, situations in the building code for when these systems are required. So we've already kind of talked about that the systems are used for high value assets and to increase reliability and continuity of critical business infrastructure for clients. But, uh, one thing we didn't mention was, um, if clients are, or building owners are, uh, really concerned about the potential for water damage.
You might offer this, uh, system as a combination or a two-pronged fire suppression approach in order to further limit the possibility of water from the sprinklers discharging onto your high value asset. Some of the negatives of these systems, uh, they are a significant cost add to a project. And like we talked about, there are.
Not an explicit code requirement. So this is an elected fire suppression system, generally in combination with the fire suppression and fire alarm systems that are usually already required for buildings. So it's a significant cost consideration to add these systems. Uh, generally they are paired with a, an additional, uh, increas.
Initiation device like a aspirating smoke detection, like a Veda system, you know, don't have great numbers for exact cost figures, but I've seen, uh, back the envelope calculation figures like $10 a cubic foot for some of these systems, which if you can imagine, if you have, um, any sizeable room that these systems could be cost prohibited very quickly.
Another consideration for, uh, giving counsel for installing these systems might be the, um, the tank storage and how you have to store the Gasier suppressant in proximity of the room and or space. So you have additional panels for the controls for the system. Unless you're using your fire alarm panel. As you're releasing panel, you're gonna have tanks of Gaius suppressant that are usually attached to high pressure piping that have to be fairly close to the, uh, room or asset being protected.
What I see is the huge benefit is that say you have a Gasier suppression system for Daner data center, and there is, uh, you know, a wet pipe sprinkler system. Or if you'd like to go, uh, even further down the rabbit hole protection, uh, single interlock pre action system, then you have the aspirating smoke detection system, which.
Basically have the ability to sense the fire, uh, extremely early, uh, potentially release the Gasier suppressant and extinguish the fire, and then minimize the down the downtime for the facility by. Um, not having the water damage and the, uh, further interruption presented by, uh, drenching, your electronic equipment with water.
One design consideration. You have to be careful with, with Gaius, uh, suppression agents are, um, sometimes these can act as XYX. Um, so these inert gases, oftentimes at their extinguishing concentration. Um, can have the potential to, um, be dangerous to, uh, life and health. So you have to keep that in mind when looking at different, uh, design applications, um, you know, there are gases suppression agents, uh, carbon di or carbon dioxide is not a clean agent system, but carbon dioxide at the extinguishing concentration is, um, At, uh, immediately dangerous to life and health, um, concentration in the room.
So you have to think about what the space is being used for. If people are going to be occupying this space at a regular basis and all these things, when you're determining which, uh, system is appropriate, you know, one of the extremely limiting factors about clean agent systems is that room configuration and you know, how much suppressant you.
To, uh, be viable for these systems to be used. So if you have, uh, you know, a large room with high cloud storage, um, it's likely not gonna be a situation in which a clean agent system is going to be able to work for your application. Due to the cost and the amount of suppressant needed. I do think that it's, uh, a very important thing to be aware of if a client has, uh, you know, um, say a critical piece of infrastructure or they're expressing a great concern and fire and life safety, then there are definitely a lot of good applications for these systems.
In order to give the, the client an increased benefit in fire and life safety. You know, oftentimes I see, uh, erroneous pieces of fire and life safety equipment being put into place. Um, cuz people, you know, think, oh, the more equipment is better and you know, that's, that's generally not the case. I usually try to counsel people.
Um, to just not go placing fire dampers or, you know, combination fire, dampers, or other pieces of, uh, fire and life safety equipment that is not required in just willy-nilly because, um, there's not a real added, uh, benefit to fire and life safety or asset protection. If you're applying these systems without thinking about why they're used.
That being said, I think clean agent is an excellent system for, um, high value assets and providing the client a, uh, added sense of protection. Think that's gonna do it for this episode of fire code tech. Next time we talk about clean agent systems, I will try to get more into the calculations and some of the design considerations, but today I just wanted to go over some of the misnomers about the subject and some pros and cons about when to apply these systems.
Thanks for listening. Everybody. Be sure to share the episode with a friend, if you enjoyed it, don't forget that fire protection and life safety is serious business. The views and opinions expressed on this podcast are by no means a professional consultation or a codes and standards interpretation. Be sure to contact a licensed professional.
If you are getting involved with fire protection and or life safety. Thanks again. And we'll see you next time.