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Fire Suppression

Fire Suppression

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Published by: urssulthan on Oct 13, 2011
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01/30/2013

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Fire Suppression 
Fire Suppression Systems
 With today's demands on IT infrastructure, protection against collateraldamage is paramount! Ask yourself, is your IT facility adequately protectedagainst fire? The heat generated from the latest server technology isenormous, the potential for fire is higher now than anytime before, withpowerful rack servers stacked on top of each other with serious heatoutputs.This document will give you the low down on fire suppression technology,
with an unbiased view to the PRO’s an CON’s of the main types of fire
suppression options.
What makes a fire suppression system work?
 
Standards and Codes of Practice
 Fire suppression systems should be installed to at least the ISO14520,BS6266 and BS5839 codes of practice for fire detection and firesuppression systems.Smoke detection in high airflow environments should be installed as per therecommendations of the BS6266 standard. This standard advises on thenumber of detectors required based on velocity of the high air flow, this iscrucial for high airflow in this type of environment.The Mechanical elements of a fire suppression systems, namely the firesuppression cylinders and delivery pipe work should conform to theISO14520 standard. In addition to this, a theoretical demonstration of the
 
flow performance should be demonstrated with use of th
e OEM’s flow
modelling software.With all fire suppression systems, the design should be approved to ensurethat the pipe runs are not obstructed and can be practically installed withoutadding elbows and other pipe work accessories to avoid any otherobstacles such as light fittings, duct work, etc.
Smoke Detection Principles
 A fire suppression system, must comprise of at least two fire zones and atleast two smoke detectors. Traditionally a mix of Ionisation smokedetectors and Optical (Photoelectric) smoke detectors were used to detecta wider range of smoke particles. Today the optical technology covers thisand provides more stability of than that of ionisation detectors, particularlyin high airflow streams.Alternatively, enhanced fire detection can be achieved with the use ofVESDA air sampling systems. Using VESDA smoke detection can provideconclusive detection with accurate testing and measurement principles.Interrogation can also be achieved by looking at extensive event logging,which will paint a picture of events occurring prior to a fire suppressiondischarge!
Operation
 The fire suppression system uses two modes:-
MANUAL FIRE SUPPRESSION MODE
 This is based on Human intervention, the operation of a gas release callpoint or manual actuator will discharge the fire suppression agent. The FireSuppression system will not deploy the system automatically.
AUTOMATIC FIRE SUPPRESSION MODE
 Two zones or two devices are needed to prove a coincidence. Thiscoincidence is confirmation that there is smoke present and the firesuppression system will deploy the fire suppression agent. The delay fromthe first stage alarm (first detector activated) to the second stage alarm isvariable, depending on how fast the detectors are responding. Once the
 
second detector is activated that system normally incorporates a 30 seconddelay from alarm to fire suppression release!
The Environment that the Fire Suppression system is being used
 Most fire suppression systems are only as good as the enclosure they areused in. It is vitally important to ensure that the protected enclosure canmaintain the fire suppression agent at the highest level of equipment for 10minutes following a discharge. Why do we do this? The fire suppression
system is a fire ‘suppression’ system NOT an extinguishing fire system.
Re-ignition will occur should the fire suppression concentration be reducedor if the fire suppression agent escapes/leaks out of the protectedenclosure.
Room Integrity
 To evaluate this, the fire suppression installer must carry out a RoomIntegrity Test. A room integrity test proves fire suppression retentioncapability of the room. The test procedure compares positive and negativepressurisation against flow. This calculates the accumulative aperture (thisis a sum of all openings in the protected inclosure).The room integrity test calculates that rate at which the gas will leak fromthe protected space. In simple terms, the best way of describing this is,imagine a fish tank of water filled to the very top, the very top being theroom height. The tallest piece in the fish tank is like the tallest piece ofequipment in the computer room. The fire suppression agent is the water!Now imagine that there where small holes in the tank, this is holes in theprotected space. As the water (fire suppression agent) leaks out of thetank/enclosure, the tallest piece of equipment will eventually be exposed toair. If this occurs within 10 minutes, then essentially the room will fail thetest. If the water (fire suppression agent) leaked at a slower rate, leavingthe tallest piece of equipment covered longer than 10 minutes, then theroom will pass the integrity test.Why do we use ten minutes as the datum? The ISO1450 and NFP2001deem this period as a minimum period to allow human intervention, such asthe fire brigade to deal with the problem without the risk of allowing the fireto spread and do more damage!With this in mind choosing the correct fire suppression agent is critical.

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