Special Hazard Fire Suppression Best Practices

April 9, 2021
Legislated by building codes in almost every locale, sprinkler systems have long been used to protect buildings and their occupants from fire. However, these systems are typically intended to protect structures, not building contents or the ongoing operations of the business inside a building. This is where special hazard fire suppression comes in. From power generation plants and data centers to art museums and historical churches, gaseous and chemical agent fire suppression technologies work quickly and, with no or minimal water, help prevent catastrophic damage. What is special hazard fire suppression? Special hazard areas can be defined as:• Any area containing equipment or processes of exceptionally high value• Any area containing unique or irreplaceable assets(museums, archives, art galleries or records storage)• Any area or process where the revenue produced or its function is of greater value than the equipment itself. Special hazard fire suppression can be installed in an entire building, an area, a room, or even for specific equipment or assets. For example, applications can range from computer racks at data centers and imaging equipment at healthcare facilities to range hoods in commercial kitchens. Special hazard fire protection systems include detection and control coupled with afire suppression system. The fire suppression systems are designed to quickly and completely extinguish a fire without damaging building contents or endangering building occupants. Matching fire suppression to applications. Not all types of fire suppression are ideal for every application. That's where the experts come in. Fire Protection Engineers (FPEs) and fire system integrators(usually a local distributor with specialized expertise) will research the specific application and requirements of each building. Before recommending the suppression type that best fits a building's needs, they look at what is being protected and where—for example, there are very different needs for a hyperscale data center versus an office building with multiple data closets. The system designers will also consider room location, volume and ventilation. When it comes to fire code, the Authority Having Jurisdiction (commonly known as AHJ) plays a vital role in certifying that the fire and life safety systems in your building are up to date and meet the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) codes and standards. Since local application codes and standards can vary by geography, experts such as FPEs will help navigate these requirements as well. Once an area or building is identified as a special hazard requiring additional protection, a multifaceted hazard analysis should be performed. Understanding types of potential fires and differentiating among Class A(combustible materials, such as paper or plastics),B (flammable liquids), and C (energized electrical equipment) ignition sources can aid in the selection of the most efficient detection and suppression technology for a building's specific hazards. A thorough review of potential ignition sources enables not only selection of an appropriate fire protection system, but the possible elimination of ignition sources.

Types of fire suppression Automatic sprinkler systems are the most common type of fire protection required to meet building codes. In the event of a fire, these systems immediately discharge a high volume of water into the building. In addition to the sheer amount of water employed, the water used maybe unclean or contaminated, risking further damage to a facility's critical assets. In contrast, special hazard fire suppression systems are designed to detect and extinguish fires in locations where standard suppression systems are not appropriate or adequate. Using gases, chemicals or a water mist, these systems quickly extinguish a fire and protect the building and its valuable assets. For this purpose, it's vital to choose the right type of fire suppression system for each application. Below is a look at five special hazard fire suppression approaches, along with some best practice tips for each.

See Stat-X video on Kidde Fire Suppression Systems for Data Server Rooms:

Resources: NFPA 12: Standard on Carbon Dioxide Extinguishing Systems, NFPA 17 - Standard for Dry Chemical Extinguishing Systems — NFPA 17A: Standard for Wet Chemical Extinguishing Systems — NFPA 96: Standard for Ventilation Control and Fire Protection of Commercial Cooking Operations — NFPA 750: Standard on Water Mist Fire Protection Systems — NFPA 2001: Standard on Clean Agent Fire Extinguishing Systems

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