FM-200™ suppresses fire by disrupting the fire triangle. The fire triangle is made up of heat, oxygen, and a fuel source, and by removing one of these elements, the fire is extinguished. FM-200™ removes the heat or free radicals, which interferes with the fire triangle's chemical reaction to extinguish the fire. Clean agent fire suppression systems, like ones using FM-200™, can achieve fire extinguishing concentrations in 10 seconds or less.
The chemical name for FM-200™ is 1,1,1,2,3,3,3-Heptafluoropropane. It is also referred to as hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) 227ea and is manufactured by Chemours under the trademark FM-200™. The gas is a colorless, compressed liquefied gas used to extinguish fires and is a popular replacement for Halon fire suppression systems. FM-200™ fire suppression systems are pressurized with nitrogen, waterless, and upon activation, FM-200™ discharges as a gas to suppress the fire.
The gas is low in toxicity and does not pose acute or long-term dangers when handled per the manufacturers’ recommendations. The vapors from FM-200™ have little to no effect on the skin or eyes, but when in liquid form, on contact, it can freeze the skin or eyes, causing frostbite. In the case of inhaling high concentrations of FM-200™ vapors, over the recommended exposure limits, one may experience headache, dizziness, loss of coordination, confusion, and in a worst-case scenario, loss of consciousness. When following manufacturers' guidelines, FM-200™ is safe for use in fully occupied areas.
Suppression systems using FM-200™ and 3M Novec 1230 fluid are similar in that they are both safe to use in occupied spaces, do not damage sensitive equipment, and do not require clean up. While both substances are fast-acting, clean agent fire suppression systems, they differ slightly. 3M Novec 1230 fluid's chemical compound is a fluoroketone and is stored as a liquid and discharges as a gas. These systems may require larger or more cylinders than an FM-200™ system, based on the area you are protecting. Both substances cause no ozone depletion and are considered environmentally friendly; however, 3M Novec 1230 fluid does have a lower GWP.