While sprinkler systems are the most common type of fire suppression system, some applications require special hazard fire suppression systems that do not use water. These systems are unique in that they can deal with hazards where water could actually do more harm than good. Within fire science, there are several classes of fires: class A, B, C, D, and K. The fuel of the fire will dictate what can put it out. Class A fires, for example, involve wood, and a sprinkler system would work well. A Class C fire, on the other hand, is an electrical fire and that may get worse by trying to suppress it with water. In summary, the specific environment will determine which system will work best.
Engineered vs. pre-engineered fire suppression systems also need discussion. Engineered fire suppression systems will protect an entire room. Firetrace, for example, uses clean agents that are safe with electronics and can be inhaled without doing any harm to a person.
Pre-engineered systems are used to protect small compartments or micro-environments. Engine compartments and electrical panels are good examples of where these types of systems would provide protection. They are also useful for suppressing Class K (kitchen/cooking fires).
Firetrace pre-engineered fire suppression systems are available in 2 configurations: indirect release and direct release. Watch the video below to learn about the 2 different Firetrace pre-engineered fire suppression systems:
Fire suppression agents: Within pre-engineered fire suppression systems, there is a slew of agents that can be used. Class K systems typically have foam fire suppressants or other wet chemical agent options to help reduce the spread of the fire within the space. Engines, by contrast, are typically protected using ABC Dry Chemical powder, which can effectively suppress Class A, B, and C fires.
Detection options: A pre-engineered system usually comes in two forms or categories. The first is an active detection system, while the second is a passive detection system. Active detection requires an electrical power source, constantly seeking out heat or smoke. A passive detection system relies on zero electricity.
Passive detection systems, including the Firetrace pre-engineered system, utilize pneumatic detection tubing that can be installed inside and throughout hazards. Since heat rises, it works to trigger the pneumatic detection tube. If the heat or fire comes in contact with the tube, the tubing will burst open at the point of contact. It causes a pressure change in the entire system and will tell the system to discharge its fire suppression agents. Agents you can use with these systems include carbon dioxide, dry chemicals, clean agents and foam suppressants.
In a direct release system, the suppressant will come through the hole in the tube directly. An indirect release is when the tube acts as a detection device and, through the pressure change, tells the system to discharge the agent through other pipes and nozzles.
Direct release systems are recommended for electrical panel protection. That’s because the direct release system does not rely on any metal components installed inside the electrical panel. Metal components, like nozzles, can cause electrical arc faults, which actually increase your fire risk. Because direct release systems rely entirely on the tubing, a plastic material, fire risk is reduced.
Indirect release systems are commonly used for vehicles and in CNC machines. These systems also carry international third party approvals, which means they’ve been tested to withstand and operate in challenging environments. With the direct system, it is difficult to determine if the tube or burst hole size is the same every time. With an indirect system, nozzle size and type is consistent, so performance is easier to measure. That means it is easier to ensure all safety requirements are being met. Indirect high-pressure (usually a CO2 system) and low-pressure systems often get used to get international approval and meet specific regulations.
The Firetrace tubing system, with its focus on pressure and heat, is incredibly simple. This core piece of technology works in a passive manner and can jump into action as soon as a fire is detected. The agents in use with the products will vary, but Firetrace offers branded clean agents only. Clean agents do not involve any clean-up work after discharge. Two main manufacturers of clean agents are Chemours and 3M.
The red Firetrace Detection Tubing (FDT) is at the heart of the system. By routing the tubing throughout a special hazard, the system can detect a fire at its source. Under normal circumstances, the FDT detects a fire 10 times faster than traditional methods. Firetrace direct release and indirect release systems do not require electricity to operate and accurately detect fires even in the presence of dust, particulates, and other environmental challenges.
Firetrace offers a range of suppression chemicals (agents), and our experts can identify the best agent for your application. We have strong partnerships with clean agent manufacturers, allowing us to offer both Chemours FM-200® or 3M Novec 1230® clean agents. We also offer ABC dry chemical, BC dry chemical, and carbon dioxide suppression systems.
There are several costs to consider with fire suppression systems, and prices can vary widely. The most obvious are the actual equipment costs, including the cost of the suppression agents. Often overlooked are the installation costs. Purchasing the system also means you need to have it installed and this can bump up the price. You may want to compare the price of an automatic fire suppression system to something simpler that may be able to do the job just as well, such as a fire extinguisher system.
A fire suppression system will typically cost in the thousands of dollars, while a fire extinguisher at a retail store is under $20. The downside of a fire extinguisher is that it will take a person physically sitting there, detecting the flammable, combustible element, and having to extinguish it in a high-pressure situation. In this case, you also have to consider the cost to human safety and peace of mind. With a fire suppression system, you do not need to worry if your manufacturing plant is still operating overnight with no one in its presence. The system will handle it automatically.
Automatic fire protection systems are popular choices for all types of buildings. They are pre-action against hazards. Firetrace systems work to detect and suppress fires as soon as they begin. The work they do, without any human intervention, can be the difference between the fire doing minimal, or extensive damage.