Fire Protection Design with FM 200

Amitabha Basak, P.E., C.F.P.S. Posted: August 25, 2000

FM 200 is a halocarbon agent accepted as an alternative to halon for total flooding fire suppression systems. After receiving the fire signal, FM 200 is discharged totally from the cylinders within 10 seconds to fill up the space uniformly at the design concentration to extinguish the fire. The agent is retained at its design concentration in the space for a period-called 'Hold Time'-to extinguish the fire. After Hold time, when the fire is extinguished, the agent is exhausted from the space by exhaust fans before any inspection is performed. For the design of the system, NFPA Code 2001, "Standard on Clean Agent Fire Extinguishing Systems" is followed. The Code recommends that the system be designed by a qualified clean agent extinguishing system designer. This sometimes indirectly means the agent supplier's authorized system designer.

The Scope of the Design

FM 200 design includes determination of the agent quantity, piping layout, pressure drop through the piping and accessories, as well as fixing the location and quantities of discharge nozzles for uniform distribution of the agent throughout the space. This also includes determining the filling density in the agent cylinders to take care of the pressure drop through the system, for determining the number of cylinders. From above, the agent quantity required for total flooding of the space is determined independently based on the design concentration of the agent necessary for the type of fire to be extinguished, Hold Time for extinguishing the fire, additional quantity required to take care of the leakage, etc. Tentative pipe sizing and pipe routing with nozzle location are done by the owner or the engineer in harmony with the other facilities in the space. This is, however, finalized by the agent supplier's authorized system designer based on the pressure drop software program for two-phase flow of the agent. To take care of the system

fire insurance premium. "Clean Agent Fire Extinguishing System. Design Code: NFPA 2001. amount of loss involved." is the governing code for designing the system. The requirements are guided by the functional criticality of the system protected. They also finalize the number of cylinders based on the fill density and their standard cylinder size.pressure drop and to establish the required pressure at the nozzles." is followed for fixing the fire alarm . Design Philosophy A typical case of protecting a power station using the FM 200 total suppression system is the basis for the following design information. etc. Protected Areas The areas to be protected are identified from the fire risk analysis of the plant and the various codes (like NFPA. etc). the authorized agent determines the agent fill density in the cylinder. and NFPA 72. "National Fire Alarm Code.

If possible. the values of which are to be taken from Table 3-5. C = FM 200 design concentration.44% by volume.2 recommends the following concentration level of FM 200 in the protected compartment: No Observable Adverse Effect Level (NOAEL)-Concentration of 9% and below (%V/V) Lowest Observable Adverse Effect Level (LOAEL)-Concentration above 10. Underwriters' Laboratories (UL). As we've already discovered. The same agent concentration of 7% is accepted by Factory Mutual (FM) as the design agent concentration. recommends the agent design concentration as 7.system. degrees F.1 (a) of NFPA 2001.1 of NFPA 2001 is used for preliminary quantity calculation of the agent requirement.1. % by volume.5 Weight and Storage Volume Equivalent data for New Technology Halocarbon Gaseous alternatives' SFPE Handbook on Fire Protection Engineering). however. (refer to Table 4-7. minimum design concentration (%V/V) of FM 200 is 7%./ft.44%. S = k1 and k2 (T) is a linear equation determined by least squares curve fit . based on their experience with the type of fire anticipated in the areas protected. Increase of the agent concentration from 7% to 7. it seems prudent to consider the design concentration as 7. V = Volume of the hazard. an important part of the clean agent total suppression system. NFPA 2001 Clause a-1-5. Agent Quantity: The formula mentioned in Clause 3.5% (%V/V).44%. k1 and k2 = constants specific to the clean agent being used (FM 200).44% has the repercussion on the cost of the agent. such as: * 120% of cup burner value verified by listing/approval tests. the recommendation of the AHJ (Authority of Jurisdiction) should be solicited before fixing the agent design concentration. Regarding design concentration of the agent. T = Minimum anticipated temperature of the protected volume. C = 7. lb. To satisfy both FM and UL. Agent Concentration: Since FM 200 is the most expensive item of the total system. a careful analysis is required before fixing the required concentration and the total quantity of the agent. there are various guidelines available. The maximum limit of the FM 200 concentration is restricted by NFPA 2001 due to the safety considerations of the toxicological and physical effects on human life. The formula is as follows: Where: W = Weight of Clean Agent. The FM 200 supplier's authorized agent normally recommends 7% as the design concentration.5.

when the hvac system is not running. Total FM 200 flooding within a short period of 10 seconds will suddenly raise the pressure inside the room due to the agent's expansion. any leakage from the sudden expansion of FM 200 at initial discharge is not considered further for a tight enclosure. however. the NFPA recommends the minimum anticipated temperature. when the room is provided with a suspended ceiling and the duct is running in the space above the suspended ceiling. due to the difference in density between the FM 200 air mixture inside the room and the air outside the room.44%). The zero concepts are k1 and the slope is k2. Sometimes the volume occupied by the hvac ducting inside the room up to the first isolation damper is added to the room volume. room height is considered as the static head for the leakage. the agent quantity derived per Formula 1 is jacked up by the expected leakage quantity to initially discharge the higher quantity of agent than required for the design concentration. such as the plant being under maintenance. the air-agent mixture is expected to leak in case the enclosure is not made perfectly leak-tight. which does not have any large opening that is difficult to seal. Hazard volume ("V") in the above formula is the volume of the room protected. However. This will effectively increase the initial agent concentration more than the design concentration (7% or 7. To be more precise. During the quiescent state. To extinguish the fire effectively. however. The authorized system designer normally takes into consideration the prevalent temperature inside the rooms. during an abnormal condition.techniques from data supplied by the clean agent manufacturers. Therefore. The initial agent concentration. the design agent concentration is to be retained inside the room for a period called "Hold Time. to maintain the design concentration up to the end of Hold Time. So." During the Hold Time. die down to normal room pressure within a short period at the quiescent state. Leakage due to expansion at the time of discharge is included in Formula 1 in calculating the initial agent quantity per NFPA 2001. there is the possibility of leakage at the time of discharge and also during the quiescent state due to the heavier air-agent mixture in the room compared to the air outside. the leakage rate is determined by the Door Fan Pressurization . It is therefore prudent to consider the minimum outdoor temperature prevalent from the climatological data and not the minimum design temperature specified for other equipment selection as the minimum anticipated temperature for agent calculation. The sudden rise in pressure will. which are air-conditioned. the room's indoor temperature may attain the minimum outdoor temperature. the FM 200 and air mixture will leak out of the room through the leakage area. The agent quantity requirement increases with the lower temperature of the protected volume. Regarding the selection of the temperature inside the protected area. Agent Leakage and Effect of Altitude: Leakage of the agent from the enclosure is an important issue for maintaining the desired agent concentration inside the enclosure during the Hold Time required for extinguishing the fire. Per NFPA recommendations.) Thus. (The calculation includes an allowance for the normal leakage from a "tight" enclosure due to agent expansion. will come down to the design concentration due to the leakage of the agent throughout the period of Hold Time.

tiles of the raised floor. damper gaps. g = Acceleration due to gravity rm = FM 200 and air mixture density. per Equation 1 Clause B-2. Refer to NFPA 2001 Clause B-2.1.Test.4. Leakage Through Raised Floor Tiles: The leakage by diffusion through the tiles of the raised roof floor is considered only when the raised floor of the room in isolation is protected by FM 200. the quantity of the agent is reduced by a factor available in the catalog cuts of the authorized system designer. i. is generally . Leakage Through Wall Penetration: Penetration for cable raceways and piping through the firewall is sealed to achieve the most perfect leak tightness as possible and restrict any leakage through the penetration sealing. which are routed near the ceiling of the enclosed volume. which is contingent to the type of fire. For estimation purposes. such leakage through the raised floor is not to be considered. such leakage value cannot be arrived at by the Door Fan test. as the agent is discharged simultaneously to both the room and its raised floor from the fire signal from either of the spaces. A system designed for sea level will develop a greater concentration level at higher altitude. Leakage Through Door Gaps: It is prudent to calculate the leakage rate through the door gaps from the ASHRAE (American Society of Heating.e. the leakage rate is estimated based on the probable leakage areas. Like during the design stage. m. the static height responsible for leakage due to difference in density between the air-agent mixture and the air outside should be the diameter for the round duct or height for the rectangular duct. H0=Height of ceiling. the height of the room. extent of fire. The Hold Time. as follows: Where: Pc = g x H0 x (rm . ra = Air density.ra). Agent Hold Time: This is the time required to hold the agent inside the enclosure at its desired concentration until the fire is extinguished. the suspended ceiling is made from a number of panels connected together by clips through which the leakage is not expected. When both the room and the raised floor are protected by FM 200. kg/m3. the same static head. etc. kg/m3. there is no static height of the air-agent mixture for leakage at the quiescent state. As such. FM 200 expands to a greater specific vapor.3 of NFPA 2001.6. during the quiescent state. With the ceiling on the top. Leakage to Suspended Ceiling: It depends upon the type of fixtures used on the suspended ceiling. is considered for leakage quantity determination through the damper.0016 mm (same as door) can be considered around the perimeter of the duct to get the leakage area for the damper. To correct for the effects of a higher elevation.1. Normally.7. etc. Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers) formula. items under fire. To simplify. a crack width of 0.. Effect of Altitude: At elevations above sea level. for practical purposes. Leakage Through Damper Gaps: Dampers are placed in the hvac ducts. as recommended by NFPA 2001. such as leakage through the door gaps.

1. kg/m3. ra = Air density.1. 9. m2. .3.4. Refer to NFPA 2001 Clause B-2.1. C3 = Constant for equation simplification. m.6. kg/m3.3. this time can be considered as the Hold Time when no definite value of the same is available.25 PC.5. Per Clause B-2. which is a traditional generic value to extinguish the fire. H = H0 (CF/C).1.81 m/sec2. PC = Pressure due to the agent column (density difference). m2.2. The enclosure is expected to maintain the descending interface above H for the time t. max. Refer to NFPA 2001 Clause B-2. probably based on the statistical data or experiments. C = Initial agent concentration. This is the maximum Hold Time expected for the hazard.dictated by the AHJ. CF = Final agent concentration. the Hold Time should not be less than ten (10) minutes. rm = FM 200 and Air mixture density. m.7. H0 = Height of ceiling. NFPA 2001 Clause B-2.6 of NFPA 2001.7 for Retention Time can be followed to estimate the Hold Time.ra). such values are not usually available when the design of the system is prepared. AT = Total leakage area.7. For practical purposes. PSH = Static Pressure during discharge. The interface level of the air agent mixture descends due to the leakage of the agent from the enclosure.7. sec. The NFPA formula for calculating Hold Time is as follows: Where: t = Time.7.44 % (assumed. to maintain the design concentration for extinguishing the fire). In any case. as mentioned previously. NFPA 2001 gives a formula for calculating the time required to maintain the descending interface level of air agent mixture at or above the height required for minimum agent concentration in the room. AR = Room floor area. Refer to NFPA 200a Clause B-2.2 of NFPA 200a. C4 = Constant for equation simplification. 7. Pa.7. Refer to Clause B-2. PSH = 0. H = Height of interface from floor. Pa. In Clause B-2. g = Acceleration due to gravity. PC = g H0 (rm . as derived from the total quantity of FM 200 discharged in the volume protected.

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