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The Five Main Types of Fire Suppression

We know from experience that choosing the correct fire suppression system for your organisation can be a bit of a minefield, from knowing why you need one, to which type of system is required and choosing a reliable and trustworthy company to fit it. This is why we have put together this brief guide outlining the types of system available and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

1. Gas System – FM200 

Gas systems are stored as liquid, with nitrogen used to pressurise it. gas fire suppressionWhen released the FM200 chemical agent has a chemical reaction with the fire and extinguishes it. This type of system is best suited to data rooms, switch rooms or communication rooms.

Advantages

  • Stored as a liquid so takes up less space.
  • Easy to install because the cylinder is usually in the same room.
  • No reduction of oxygen so it’s safe for humans on discharge.

Disadvantages

  • FM200 does not travel well (because of the pressure) or is rarely cost effective over inert gases if it’s a large room or the gas requires diverting to different areas/rooms. You need to store the cylinders as close to the application as possible.
  • Some companies are saying it’s a potential future banned gas as it’s a hydro fluoride chloride (HFC) – we have had clients who insist on an inert gas because of this. In fact Dupont, who manufacture FM200, are actively giving guarantees to replace the gas (less installation) if the ban becomes active in the next 20 years.

2. Kitchen Fire Suppression – Chemical Foam (Amerex, Ansul etc)

This system is specifically designed for commercial kitchens. Nozzles are placed under the cooker canopies and will propel a water-based agent with a chemical foam type mix over the risk. The trigger is usually a heat link or manual pull switch.

Advantages

  • Easy to use
  • No damage
  • No electronics/electrical work on most systems

Disadvantages

  • As some kitchens take hours to cool down, the install usually has take place late at night when the kitchens are not working.
  • Expensive & can take longer to clean up compared to water mist
  • Have to use stainless steel pipe-work and fittings
  • No British Standards to work to

3. Water mist System

Water mist systems are commonly replacing sprinklers in big data rooms, other large areas and local applications. These systems can be used for flammable liquids and electrical rooms, the mist evaporates and causes a starving of oxygen effect rather than cooling.

AdvantagesWater_Mist_nozzle1

  • Agent is cheap or free so it’s not expensive to cover a large area, and it’s also quick and easy to replace after discharge.
  • No mess and flooding – when compared to chemical kitchen fire suppression and sprinklers.
  • No large water storage or pump power requirements – when compared to sprinklers that need large pumps (sometimes with back up) and tank reservoirs.

Disadvantages

  • No British Standards apply and there are few manufacturers and distributors.
  • Still not widely recognised as an alternative to sprinkler and gas.

4. Foam Deluge System 

Foam deluge systems are mainly suitable for large applications where you cannot use water or gas. These tend to be external such as transformers, oil tanks and oil storage silo’s. A simple sprinkler type application disperses a foam concentrate mixed with the water to provide the typical expanding agent (the same as with extinguishers).

Advantages

  • Good for external areas.
  • Covers large areas.
  • Protects flammables liquids – airports, aircraft hangers, oil storage.

Disadvantages

  • Wet agent so you to need to consider the electrical risk.
  • Messy – clean up required.

5. Pneumatic Heat Detection Tube 

This is essentially an extinguisher with a valve and a length of heat detection tube which acts as the detection and propellant feed for the agent. When the temperature reaches a certain level around the pipe it blows a small pressurised hole in the pipe, which then propels the agent directly onto the risk. This suppression system is ideal for boats, vehicles, small machinery, electrical switch cabinets and fume cupboards.

Advantages

  • Small amount of agent required as it’s assumed it will attack the fire at smouldering stage
  • Low install and maintenance cost – no moving or electrical parts, no pipe work and only a small amount of agent required
  • Can install in small intricate areas such as machinery
  • Mobile – can take out and install elsewhere

DisadvantagesFire Suppression Guide free download

  • Cannot guarantee it will work if the fire is large
  • No standards to design/install to
  • Not a high spec solution
  • Difficult to cover large area (high ceilings, rooms)

For more information please call us on 0845 402 3045. Alternatively, why not download our free fire suppression buyer’s guide.

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