Suppression & Ansul Regulations
following are some important fire suppression system regulations:
UL 300 In 1994, Underwriters Laboratory (UL) issued a new standard,
UL 300, for the fire testing of fire suppression systems protecting
commercial cooking operations. The two changes in commercial
food preparation techniques that had the biggest impact on revising
the fire test standard were the change from animal fats for
frying foods to the use of vegetable oils, and the introduction
of "energy efficient" cooking appliances. Vegetable oils burn
at a higher temperature than animal fats and energy efficient
cooking appliances, like those found in "high-efficiency" fryers,
help keep fires hotter for a longer period of time. Commercial
cooking fires had gotten more difficult to extinguish over time.
UL redesigned its test standard to better reflect current cooking
conditions and to reflect "worst case" fire suppression scenarios.
As a result, no fire suppression system manufacturers submitted
their older, Dry Chemical Kitchen Systems for testing under
the UL 300 standard. Since 1994, most of these manufacturers
have withdrawn their support of Dry Chemical Kitchen Systems,
resulting in a lack of repair parts, proper recharge chemical
and technical support.
All kitchen fire suppression systems manufactured after 1994
must comply with the UL 300 Standard. To meet that standard,
system manufacturers have increased the amount of wet chemical
agent applied to cooking appliances to reinforce the cooling
effect of Wet Chemical Kitchen Systems - an important tool in
extinguishing modern cooking fires.
If any of the following is true of your restaurant cooking area
it is time to upgrade your fire protection system:
your restaurant cooking area fire protection system was manufactured
after November 21, 1994 ; OR
changes are made to the original installation of cooking appliances
and the hoods/ducts within the protection area, or the addition
of cooking appliances required protection, or a change to
vegetable-based cooking oils; OR
manufacturer of the restaurant cooking area fire protection
system or another fire protection expert recommends upgrading
the system; OR
local enforcement authorities, insurance company, or other
authority requires or recommends upgrading the system.
NFPA 25 - Standard for Inspection, Testing and Maintenance of
Water Based Fire Protection Systems
The three basic requirements for compliance are:
Inspection of the System and Components
Testing and Maintenance at Prescribed Intervals
NFPA 12 - CO2 Systems
NFPA 12A - Halon 1301 Systems
NFPA 17 - Dry Chemical Systems
NFPA 2001 - Clean Agent Systems
NFPA 72 - National Fire Alarm Code
The four basic requirements for compliance are:
1. Monthly System and Component Inspection
2. Annual Testing and Maintenance
3. Record Keeping
4. Training and Education for Personnel
REGS on SUPPRESSION SYSTEMS
Automatic sprinkler systems.
1. Scope and application. This section contains the minimum
requirements for design, installation and maintenance of sprinkler
systems that are needed for employee safety. The Occupational
Safety and Health Administration is aware of the fact that the
National Board of Fire Underwriters is no longer an active organization,
however, sprinkler systems still exist that were designed and
installed in accordance with that organization's standards.
Therefore, OSHA will recognize sprinkler systems designed to,
and maintained in accordance with, NBFU and earlier NFPA standards.
2. Exemptions. In an effort to assure that employers will continue
to use automatic sprinkler systems as the primary fire protection
system in workplaces, OSHA is exempting from coverage those
systems not required by a particular OSHA standard and which
have been installed in workplaces solely for the purpose of
protecting property. Many of these types of systems are installed
in areas or buildings with little or no employee exposure. An
example is those warehouses where employees may enter occasionally
to take inventory or move stock. Some employers may choose to
shut down those systems which are not specifically required
by OSHA rather than upgrade them to comply with the standards.
OSHA does not intend to regulate such systems. OSHA only intends
to regulate those systems which are installed to comply with
a particular OSHA standard.
3. Design. There are two basic types of sprinkler system design.
Pipe schedule designed systems are based on pipe schedule tables
developed to protect hazards with standard sized pipe, number
of sprinklers, and pipe lengths. Hydraulic designed systems
are based on an engineered design of pipe size which will produce
a given water density or flow rate at any particular point in
the system. Either design can be used to comply with this standard.
The National Fire Protection Association's Standard No. 13,
"Automatic Sprinkler Systems," contains the tables
needed to design and install either type of system. Minimum
water supplies, densities, and pipe sizes are given for all
types of occupancies.
The employer may check with a reputable fire protection engineering
consultant or sprinkler design company when evaluating existing
systems or designing a new installation.
With the advent of new construction materials for the manufacture
of sprinkler pipe, materials, other than steel have been approved
for use as sprinkler pipe. Selection of pipe material should
be made on the basis of the type of installation and the acceptability
of the material to local fire and building officials where such
systems may serve more than one purpose.
Before new sprinkler systems are placed into service, an acceptance
test is to be conducted. The employer should invite the installer,
designer, insurance representative, and a local fire official
to witness the test. Problems found during the test are to be
corrected before the system is placed into service.
4. Maintenance. It is important that any sprinkler system maintenance
be done only when there is minimal employee exposure to the
fire hazard. For example, if repairs or changes to the system
are to be made, they should be made during those hours when
employees are not working or are not occupying that portion
of the workplace protected by the portion of the system which
has been shut down.
The procedures for performing a flow test via a main drain test
or by the use of an inspector's test valve can be obtained from
the employer's fire insurance company or from the National Fire
Protection Association's Standard No. 13A, "Sprinkler System,
5. Water supplies. The water supply to a sprinkler system is
one of the most important factors an employer should consider
when evaluating a system. Obviously, if there is no water supply,
the system is useless. Water supplies can be lost for various
reasons such as improperly closed valves, excessive demand,
broken water mains, and broken fire pumps. The employer must
be able to determine if or when this type of condition exists
either by performing a main drain test or visual inspection.
Another problem may be an inadequate water supply. For example,
a light hazard occupancy may, through rehabilitation or change
in tenants, become an ordinary or high hazard occupancy. In
such cases, the existing water supply may not be able to provide
the pressure or duration necessary for proper protection. Employers
must assure that proper design and tests have been made to assure
an adequate water supply. These tests can be arranged through
the employer's fire insurance carrier or through a local sprinkler
maintenance company or through the local fire prevention organization.
Anytime the employer must shut down the primary water supply
for a sprinkler system, the standard requires that equivalent
protection be provided. Equivalent protection may include a
fire watch with extinguishers or hose lines in place and manned,
or a secondary water supply such as a tank truck and pump, or
a tank or fire pond with fire pumps, to protect the areas where
the primary water supply is limited or shut down. The employer
may also require evacuation of the workplace and have an emergency
action plan which specifies such action.
6. Protection of piping. Piping which is exposed to corrosive
atmospheres, either chemical or natural, can become defective
to the extent that it is useless. Employers must assure that
piping is protected from corrosion by its material of construction,
e.g., stainless steel, or by a protective coating, e.g., paint.
7. Sprinklers. When an employer finds it necessary to replace
sprinkler system components or otherwise change a sprinkler's
design, employer should make a complete fire protection engineering
survey of that part of the system being changed. This review
should assure that the changes to the system will not alter
the effectiveness of the system as it is presently designed.
Water supplies, densities and flow characteristics should be
8. Protection of sprinklers. All components of the system must
be protected from mechanical impact damage. This can be achieved
with the use of mechanical guards or screens or by locating
components in areas where physical contact is impossible or
9. Sprinkler alarms. The most recognized sprinkler alarm is
the water motor gong or bell that sounds when water begins to
flow through the system. This is not however, the only type
of acceptable water flow alarm. Any alarm that gives an indication
that water is flowing through the system is acceptable. For
example, a siren, a whistle, a flashing light, or similar alerting
device which can transmit a signal to the necessary persons
would be acceptable. The purpose of the alarm is to alert persons
that the system is operating, and that some type of planned
action is necessary.
10. Sprinkler spacing. For a sprinkler system to be effective
there must be an adequate discharge of water spray from the
sprinkler head. Any obstructions which hinder the designed density
or spray pattern of the water may create unprotected areas which
can cause fire to spread. There are some sprinklers that, because
of the system's design, are deflected to specific areas. This
type of obstruction is acceptable if the system's design takes
it into consideration in providing adequate coverage.
1910.160 Fixed extinguishing systems, general.
1. Scope and application. This section contains the general
requirements that are applicable to all fixed extinguishing
systems installed to meet OSHA standards. It also applies to
those fixed extinguishing systems, generally total flooding,
which are not required by OSHA, but which, because of the agent's
discharge, may expose employees to hazardous concentrations
of extinguishing agents or combustion by-products. Employees
who work around fixed extinguishing systems must be warned of
the possible hazards associated with the system and its agent.
For example, fixed dry chemical extinguishing systems may generate
a large enough cloud of dry chemical particles that employees
may become visually disoriented. Certain gaseous agents can
expose employees to hazardous by-products of combustion when
the agent comes into contact with hot metal or other hot surface.
Some gaseous agents may be present in hazardous concentrations
when the system has totally discharged because an extra rich
concentration is necessary to extinguish deep-seated fires.
Certain local application systems may be designed to discharge
onto the flaming surface of a liquid, and it is possible that
the liquid can splatter when hit with the discharging agent.
All of these hazards must be determined before the system is
placed into operation, and must be discussed with employees.
Based on the known toxicological effects of agents such as carbon
tetrachloride and chlorobromomethane, OSHA is not permitting
the use of these agents in areas where employees can be exposed
to the agent or its side effects. However, chlorobromomethane
has been accepted and may be used as an explosion suppression
agent in unoccupied spaces. OSHA is permitting the use of this
agent only in areas where employees will not be exposed.
2. Distinctive alarm signals. A distinctive alarm signal is
required to indicate that a fixed system is discharging. Such
a signal is necessary on those systems where it is not immediately
apparent that the system is discharging. For example, certain
gaseous agents make a loud noise when they discharge. In this
case no alarm signal is necessary. However, where systems are
located in remote locations or away from the general work area
and where it is possible that a system could discharge without
anyone knowing that it is doing so, then a distinctive alarm
is necessary to warn employees of the hazards that may exist.
The alarm can be a bell, gong, whistle, horn, flashing light,
or any combination of signals as long as it is identifiable
as a discharge alarm.
3. Maintenance. The employer is responsible for the maintenance
of all fixed systems, but this responsibility does not preclude
the use of outside contractors to do such work. New systems
should be subjected to an acceptance test before placed in service.
The employer should invite the installer, designer, insurance
representative and others to witness the test. Problems found
during the test need to be corrected before the system is considered
4. Manual discharge stations. There are instances, such as for
mechanical reasons and others, where the standards call for
a manual back-up activation device. While the location of this
device is not specified in the standard, the employer should
assume that the device should be located where employees can
easily reach it. It could, for example, be located along the
main means of egress from the protected area so that employees
could activate the system as they evacuate the work area.
5. Personal protective equipment. The employer is required to
provide the necessary personal protective equipment to rescue
employees who may be trapped in a totally flooded environment
which may be hazardous to their health. This equipment would
normally include a positive-pressure self-contained breathing
apparatus and any necessary first aid equipment. In cases where
the employer can assure the prompt arrival of the local fire
department or plant emergency personnel which can provide the
equipment, this can be considered as complying with the standards.
1910.161 Fixed extinguishing systems, dry chemical.
1. Scope and application. The requirements of this section apply
only to dry chemical systems. These requirements are to be used
in conjunction with the requirements of 1910.160.
2. Maintenance. The employer is responsible for assuring that
dry chemical systems will operate effectively. To do this, periodic
maintenance is necessary. One test that must be conducted during
the maintenance check is one which will determine if the agent
has remained free of moisture. If an agent absorbs any moisture,
it may tend to cake and thereby clog the system. An easy test
for acceptable moisture content is to take a lump of dry chemical
from the container and drop it from a height of four inches.
If the lump crumbles into fine particles, the agent is acceptable.
1910.162 Fixed extinguishing systems, gaseous agent.
1. Scope and application. This section applies only to those
systems which use gaseous agents. The requirements of 1910.160
also apply to the gaseous agent systems covered in this section.
2. Design concentrations. Total flooding gaseous systems are
based on the volume of gas which must be discharged in order
to produce a certain designed concentration of gas in an enclosed
area. The concentration needed to extinguish a fire depends
on several factors including the type of fire hazard and the
amount of gas expected to leak away from the area during discharge.
At times it is necessary to "super-saturate" a work
area to provide for expected leakage from the enclosed area.
In such cases, employers must assure that the flooded area has
been ventilated before employees are permitted to reenter the
work area without protective clothing and respirators.
3. Toxic decomposition. Certain halogenated hydrocarbons will
break down or decompose when they are combined with high temperatures
found in the fire environment. The products of the decomposition
can include toxic elements or compounds. For example, when Halon
1211 is placed into contact with hot metal it will break down
and form bromide or fluoride fumes. The employer must find out
which toxic products may result from decomposition of a particular
agent from the manufacturer, and take the necessary precautions
to prevent employee exposure to the hazard.
1910.163 Fixed extinguishing systems, water spray and foam.
1. Scope and application. This section applies to those systems
that use water spray or foam. The requirements of 1910.160 also
apply to this type of system.
2. Characteristics of foams. When selecting the type of foam
for a specific hazard, the employer should consider the following
limitations of some foams.
a. Some foams are not acceptable for use on fires involving
flammable gases and liquefied gases with boiling points below
ambient workplace temperatures. Other foams are not effective
when used on fires involving polar solvent liquids.
b. Any agent using water as part of the mixture should not be
used on fire involving combustible metals unless it is applied
under proper conditions to reduce the temperature of burning
metal below the ignition temperature. The employer should use
only those foams that have been tested and accepted for this
application by a recognized independent testing laboratory.
c. Certain types of foams may be incompatible and break down
when they are mixed together.
d. For fires involving water miscible solvents, employers should
use only those foams tested and approved for such use. Regular
protein foams may not be effective on such solvents.
Whenever employers provide a foam or water spray system, drainage
facilities must be provided to carry contaminated water or foam
overflow away from the employee work areas and egress routes.
This drainage system should drain to a central impounding area
where it can be collected and disposed of properly. Other government
agencies may have regulations concerning environmental considerations.
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