10/01/2008

Understanding Gaseous Fire-Extinguishing Agents

Important questions about protecting special hazards

By Chris Jelenewicz

 

Gaseous fire-extinguishing agents are often used when the application of water may cause excessive collateral damage.

Using Science and Technology to Protect the Environment
The contributions made by fire-protection engineers in protecting the environment are often overlooked.

When designing green buildings, one sustainable-design approach currently being utilized by fire-protection engineers is the use of reclaimed water for fire-protection-system water supplies. When using reclaimed water, the fire-protection engineer performs an analysis to identify any concerns with water quality that would affect the proposed systems. This analysis can include examining pipe-corrosion potential and the need for backflow prevention.

Additionally, fire-protection engineers have the skills to work with design team members to ensure sustainable design in areas related to natural lighting, air-handling systems, atriums, and the testing of water-based fire-protection systems.

Gaseous fire-extinguishing agents are often used to effectively extinguish fires in special hazards that cannot be adequately protected by fire-sprinkler systems. These extinguishing agents are also utilized when the application of water may cause excessive collateral damage or an interruption of critical operations.

At one time, carbon dioxide and Halon were the common types of gaseous agents specified to protect special hazards from fire. Because Halon was identified as a stratospheric ozone-depleting substance, its production was banned in 1994 by the Montreal Protocol.

After the production of Halon was discontinued, the fire-protection community worked hard to develop effective extinguishing agents that do not harm the environment. Currently, more than 12 types of agents have been developed as alternatives to Halon. With all of these new gaseous fire-extinguishing agents in the marketplace, some important questions are being asked about protecting special hazards from fire:

  1. What steps should be taken if an existing Halon extinguishing system is currently being used in a facility? Currently, there are no government regulations that require the decommissioning of existing Halon fire-suppression systems. And, recycled Halon is available to refill a system, if needed. This supply of recycled Halon will not last forever. As such, building owners should consider replacing Halon with an alternative agent in the near future.
  2. Should carbon-dioxide extinguishing systems be considered to protect special hazards? Carbon-dioxide systems are very effective at extinguishing fires in most combustible materials. When used in total flooding applications (hazards that are enclosed), however, these systems produce lethal concentrations of carbon dioxide in the protected space. Consequently, carbon dioxide is not recommended for use as an extinguishing agent in normally occupied spaces.
  3. What are the common types of gaseous agents that have been developed as alternatives to Halon? There are two common types of gaseous agents that are considered replacements to Halon: halocarbon compounds and inert gases. National Fire Protection Standard 2001: Standard on Clean Agent Fire Extinguishing Systems outlines the design, installation, and maintenance requirements for systems that employ these replacement agents.
  4. Are these new alternative agents safe for building occupants and the environment? Although halocarbon and inert-gas extinguishing agents do pose health and safety risks, both types of agents are considered safe for use in normally occupied spaces when designed properly. Moreover, both types of agents are approved for use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and don't deplete the ozone.
  5. When a special hazard is required to be protected from fire, how can fire-protection engineers assist an owner? Fire-protection engineers understand the science and the latest technologies that are used to protect people, property, and the environment from fire. A fire-protection engineer can assist in determining the appropriate gaseous fire-extinguishing agent for the appropriate application and assist in preparing the design, installation, and maintenance requirements.

Chris Jelenewicz (chris@sfpe.org), a professional engineer, is the engineering program manager at the Society of Fire Protection Engineers, Bethesda, MD.

 


Visit our website today to learn about the design flexibility of a Morton building and the endless possibilities of partnering with our designBUILD team.


Wood construction is both cost and energy efficient. Check out Morton Buildings and our designBUILD team online today to discover all the benefits of post-frame construction.


When choosing a metal-clad building for your next construction project, consider Morton Buildings, Inc., and their designBUILD team, we’ll make your dream a reality.

We Can Help You Reduce Energy by 30%

Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
CLICK HERE to find out how.

 

Add highly responsive multi-zone comfort to any building project, in any climate. Our CITY MULTI H2i R2- and Y-Series VRF systems give you flexibility to fit the needs of any building. Enjoy 100% heating capacity at 0°F outdoor ambient, and 85% heating capacity at -13°F outdoor ambient.  For more information, log on to www.mitsubishipro.com


Tennant Company is a recognized leader in designing, manufacturing and marketing solutions that help create a cleaner, safer, healthier world. With thousands of satisfied customers already using award winning ec-H2O technology, why not see what you're missing? Test ec-H2O on your soils in your facility. Get a free demo.


Tennant Company is a recognized leader in designing, manufacturing and marketing solutions that help create a cleaner, safer, healthier world. With thousands of satisfied customers already using award winning ec-H2O technology, why not see what you're missing? Test ec-H2O on your soils in your facility. Get a free demo.

 

Replace core drilling with Connectrac In-Carpet and On-Floor Wireways, the proven connectivity solution in open interior spaces of all kinds. These elegant low-profile wireways are great for AV / telecom connectivity wherever it’s needed.

 


Visit our website today to learn about the design flexibility of a Morton building and the endless possibilities of partnering with our designBUILD team.


Wood construction is both cost and energy efficient. Check out Morton Buildings and our designBUILD team online today to discover all the benefits of post-frame construction.


When choosing a metal-clad building for your next construction project, consider Morton Buildings, Inc., and their designBUILD team, we’ll make your dream a reality.

We Can Help You Reduce Energy by 30%

Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
CLICK HERE to find out how.

 

Add highly responsive multi-zone comfort to any building project, in any climate. Our CITY MULTI H2i R2- and Y-Series VRF systems give you flexibility to fit the needs of any building. Enjoy 100% heating capacity at 0°F outdoor ambient, and 85% heating capacity at -13°F outdoor ambient.  For more information, log on to www.mitsubishipro.com


Tennant Company is a recognized leader in designing, manufacturing and marketing solutions that help create a cleaner, safer, healthier world. With thousands of satisfied customers already using award winning ec-H2O technology, why not see what you're missing? Test ec-H2O on your soils in your facility. Get a free demo.


Tennant Company is a recognized leader in designing, manufacturing and marketing solutions that help create a cleaner, safer, healthier world. With thousands of satisfied customers already using award winning ec-H2O technology, why not see what you're missing? Test ec-H2O on your soils in your facility. Get a free demo.

 

Replace core drilling with Connectrac In-Carpet and On-Floor Wireways, the proven connectivity solution in open interior spaces of all kinds. These elegant low-profile wireways are great for AV / telecom connectivity wherever it’s needed.

 


 
comments powered by Disqus

Related Products

Lighting
Lighting
Fire/Life Safety

Sponsored Links