NFPA Standard Clean Agent Fire Extinguishing

NFPA 2001 Standard on Clean Agent Fire Extinguishing Systems

Clean Agent Fire Suppression

You’ve likely been inside a building with some type of fire safety system installed. These systems have multiple components, including fire alarms, fire extinguishers, and sprinkler systems to minimize damage and save lives. Most large commercial and residential properties have some form of fire protection system installed, as these are the most commonly used in today’s construction. However, certain locations require special fire protection equipment to protect specific items and structures.

How Do These Systems Work? 

For example, if a room houses large amounts of electronics, the typical fire protection system may prevent fire damage. However, all of the electronics would still be ruined by water. Buildings with large data servers, museums, storage vaults, gas stations, grills, and fryers require specialized systems to contain fires without damaging items or complicating the situation. 

Clean agent fire suppression systems are a safe and efficient alternative that provides a way to protect valuables and extinguish fires caused by certain elements. These systems use gases that are safe for humans at lower levels of exposure to extinguish fires. Clean agent systems are specifically made for populated areas that hold delicate items. Additionally, these systems automatically detect fires and begin extinguishing them automatically. 

The NFPA 2001 defines clean agents as electrically non-conductive, volatile, or gaseous fire extinguishing agents that leave no traces of residue when they evaporate. These systems extinguish fires in their initial stages to prevent extensive damage.

Types of Clean Agent Fire Suppression Systems

All clean agents exist either as gas or liquid. When the system activates, it releases these agents as gas to extinguish a fire. Upon initiation, the clean agent removes one of three elements needed to maintain a fire – heat, oxygen, or the fuel source. 

The Novec 1230 and FM-200 are the most cost-effective than other gas-based systems because fewer agents are required to extinguish a fire. This means that smaller storage cylinders are required to house the agents. When comparing the two, the Novec 1230 is only slightly more expensive. 

Of the three types of clean agents, inert gas is the most friendly to the environment. There is zero Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) and zero GWP. Novec 1230 is more environmentally friendly because it has a lower GWP of 1, although both of these systems are rated with a zero ODP. 

Advantages of Clean Agent Fire Suppression Systems

Clean agent systems offer quick-acting remedies when a fire breaks out. These systems initialize and reach appropriate concentration levels in under ten seconds. Additionally, they are designed to actually extinguish fires, while sprinkler systems focus solely on fire containment. 

There’s minimal cleanup and hardly any residue after the dispersal of a clean agent fire suppression system. These systems provide chemical and gaseous fire suppression solutions that won’t damage delicate objects because of the chemical makeup of the extinguishing agents

Clean agents are safe for people, as well. The U.S. EPA approves the materials these systems use for use in occupied spaces. Different options are available to meet specific needs. For example, green systems are ideal for building owners who want to meet eco-friendly standards or take friendlier measures for the environment. 

What Buildings Should Install Clean Agent Fire Suppression Systems? 

These are the best examples of buildings that use clean agent fire suppression systems: 

  • Areas with flammable liquid storage
  • Spaces that house important infrastructure
  • Museums
  • Data centers
  • Labs 
  • Medical facilities
  • Libraries
  • Call centers

Can you spot what all of these buildings have in common? They all have valuable and delicate items housed within their confines. Your building doesn’t have to have valuables to use a clean agent fire suppression system. You can use these systems to protect buildings from fire no matter what they have stored. 

Inspections and Maintenance

Clean agent fire suppression systems must undergo regular inspections and maintenance. This is a critical part of ensuring these systems will, in fact, keep the building safe. The following list outlines the inspection process.

  1. Check all initiating components to verify time delays for system deployment
  2. Ensure releasing devices all activate properly
  3. Verify abort device and manual release function properly
  4. Check the weights and pressures of agent containers
  5. Verify the position of discharge components, pipe fittings, and nozzles
  6. Perform enclosure integrity test
  7. Check all batteries and signals
  8. Verify all as-built drawings and flow calculations

The building owner must promote someone as the formal inspector. If the inspector isn’t present during relevant or emergency situations, the building owner must assume this role. 

A clean agent fire suppression system is only beneficial if it’s working properly. Ensuring that these systems stay well-maintained and inspected is critical for functionality. 

Every Six Months

According to the NFPA 2001, the maintenance schedule for these systems should take place as follows: 

Very clean agent cylinder weight

Every Year

Test all clean agent system control panel equipment. This includes initiating devices and equipment. Room integrity testing should be performed as well. 

Every Five Years

Inspect containers, reducing the need to perform a hydrostatic test

Maintenance for a CO2 system should be: 

Every Six Months

Verify the CO2 cylinder weight and pressure

Every Year

Test all components of the CO2 control panel, including initiating devices and equipment as required by the NFPA Chapter 12 standard on CO2 Fire Suppression Systems. 

Every Five Years

Conduct a hydrostatic test if cylinders holding the agent have been emptied.

Every 12 Years

Conduct a 12-year hydrostatic test if cylinders have never been emptied, or the system has never discharged. 

Get Protected, Stay Protected

Do you own a residential or commercial building with a significant amount of valuable or delicate items? Does a clean agent fire suppression system sound like something that could benefit you based on the items you have housed in your building? 

You should seriously consider installing a clean agent fire suppression system if you answer yes. Typical water systems may be efficient at containing fires, they’re not that great at minimizing property damage. When you have valuable items at stake that you’re highly invested in, there’s only one solution for fire suppression.