The Fire Triangle

Within nearly every environment there is enough oxygen for people to live normally but this also means there is the risk of a fire breaking out. A fire wont stop burning unless the oxygen level is decreased or something is done to rapidly decrease the heat. A fire will not and cannot continue to burn if there is no longer a fuel source present.

There are three things that must be present for a fire to start and those are heat, oxygen and fuel, and these are referred to as the Fire Triangle.

The first element on the fire triangle is heat, which is the component that ignites the fire. This can be anything from cigarettes that haven’t been disposed of properly to faulty electrics.

The second element of the fire triangle is fuel, things that can fuel a fire are paper, wood, cardboard, gas and many more. To help prevent fires make sure waste is disposed of properly and flammable materials should be stored safely and clearly marked.

The third element that makes up the fire triangle is oxygen, which everyone knows is what we as humans need to survive. There isn’t really anything that can do about oxygen but there are steps that can be taken so that if a fire was to start it’s not able to spread far.

A fire can be prevented or extinguished by removing one of the three elements of the fire triangle. An example of this would be covering a fire with a fire blanket, which removes the oxygen meaning the fire cannot continue to burn.


What Is FM200 Fire Suppression And What Are Its Advantages?

What is FM200 Fire Suppression?

It is a waterless fire protection system that’s released into the risk inside a 10 second time frame. Fires are immediately suppressed by the agent, which otherwise known as HFC227ea.

This type of fire suppression system is usually used in:

Medical facilitiesUPS RoomsTelecommunication facilitiesComms RoomsDATA Centres


What advantages are offered by this system?

The biggest advantage is how only a very small quantity of agent is necessary to suppress a fire. The result of this is less wasted storage space, seeing as there’s no need for so many cylinders. Extinguishing levels are achieved within 10 seconds by FM200 systems, putting an end to flammable liquid, electrical and ordinary combustible fires before they’re able to damage much. Fires that are extinguished this quickly will result in significantly lower property damage, and much lower repair costs. Just as you’ll find with every other fire suppression system, FM200’s are designed to feature extra safety measures for people. Refilling an FM200 is a cheap and easy process, meaning that there’s not as much disruption and downtime for your business.

The use of FM200 within an occupied space is perfectly safe. It’s classed as a clean agent and scientific studies and real-world usage have proven FM200’s safety.

There aren’t just advantages to fire protection from the use of FM200, the environment’s also gaining something from its use. Stratospheric ozone is not depleted by the fire suppressant and its effect on the environment is relatively very good when compared to a harsh fire’s damage to the environment. The success of this type of fire suppression has been proven across 70 nations around the globe, and in more than 100 thousand applications.

How safe is it?

FM200 gas is used an an active compound inside medical inhalers, so it’s sure to say that its a very safe gas to use within occupied spaces with the appropriate fire suppression design.

When you’re looking for the ability to quickly suppress fires, save on floor space and to reduce damages, its definitely worth considering the use of FM200. It’s an environmentally friendly, colorless, clean fire suppression agent that’s safe for humans and is electrically non-conductive. Heat absorption is the primary extinguishing method of this gas, which means that there’s no residue left behind afterwards. These systems have gained international recognition and acceptance for their effectiveness in environments ranging from computer server rooms, to history and art collection rooms.

Fire Suppression Systems: What Options Do You Have?

When it comes to fire suppression systems there are several options out there that you need to take into consideration. Of course, when you are dealing with something as serious as fire safety it is always advisable to take your time and to be absolutely sure that you have made the correct decision as lives may indeed be at risk. In this instance a little knowledge can indeed go a long way.

Having this kind of system in place is also a legal requirement for a whole host of buildings and indeed it is up to you the owner to make sure that you have the correct system installed to meet your needs. The one thing that has to be made absolutely clear is that you must seek the advice of an expert who will not only look at your situation, but then advise you correctly on what you need to do next.


The Different Fire Suppression System Options.

Inert Gas System.

The first option that we will look at is called the inert gas suppression system and this basically means that it uses gases that are naturally occurring around us. What this system does is it suppresses the amount of oxygen surrounding the fire as the air contains approximately 21% oxygen, but a fire only needs 15% to survive. Clearly it makes sense to reduce that percentage as quickly as possible because without the oxygen the fire cannot breath and it will lead to it being extinguished.

However, we need to mention that us humans can survive on only 12% oxygen, so these suppression systems will reduce the oxygen to a level where the fire cannot continue, but we can.

Typically there are two main mixes of inert gases that are used for this very reason. One is a mixture of mainly Argon followed by Nitrogen, and a small amount of Carbon dioxide. The second eliminates the Carbon dioxide with both being effective at extinguishing a fire.

Synthetic Gas System.

The synthetic gas system will instantly alert you to the fact that it contains gases that have been made by man and are not natural. The role that they play in extinguishing a fire is different in that it focuses more on removing the heat element rather than suppressing oxygen levels. There are two main options available should this approach be determined as the best for you and it is worth looking at both individually in order to give a better explanation as to how they work.

The first can be referred to as FM200 or alternatively HFC227ea and this is the preferred method of fire suppression within a space that is normally occupied in some way. It is often used in call centres, hospitals, and delivery rooms and it is also a water free option.

You only require a small amount to extinguish a fire and it is known to work extremely fast reducing the amount of damage that the fire can cause. It uses a substance that actually appears in medical inhalers, so it is completely safe to use and it is recommended for use with electrical fires as well as those caused by flammable liquids.

The other method is known as Novec1230 and this is regarded as being a more up to date alternative to the FM200 system mentioned above. This system is actually a liquid when kept at room temperature and it works by simply cooling the area and, therefore, removing the heat element that plays a key role in the fire.

The amount that is required to suppress a fire is extremely small at just over 5% and this means that smaller cylinders are required leading to it taking up less space. This method is also used for spaces that tend to be occupied with them appearing in the same locations that were described earlier.

CO2 Fire Suppression.

The Co2 fire suppression system is widely regarded as being the most efficient way to extinguish fires that is currently available on the market. It works by not only cooling the fire, but by also removing most of the oxygen as well. This system works in a very short space of time and it can be used for fires of various sizes thanks in part to its effectiveness.

This system is also the one that most people are aware of as it first appears to be white, but this is merely due to the gas reacting with the air, which is warmer. However, it does become invisible and there is also no need to worry about the environment as it does not damage the ozone layer in any way.

Water Mist Fire Suppression.

This system is what most people know as the sprinkler system, but as it involves water you can understand why it is not appropriate for it to be used in areas that contain equipment. You have two options here with both a high and low pressure system and it works by creating a cooling effect as it lands on the fire. It is extremely effective, but it can also cause a lot of damage although that is clearly preferable to damage caused by smoke or a fire. This method is best used in locations such as restaurants, prisons, or places that contain chemicals.

Hypoxic Air Suppression.

For fire suppression systems there cannot be any that are as advanced as the hypoxic air system. How this works is that it will keep the oxygen level in a space below that magic 15% level that a fire needs in order to take hold. It works by removing oxygen molecules that are in tandem with nitrogen and sends them out into the atmosphere. The theory here is that, by reducing the oxygen level, it reduces the chances of a fire ever starting in the first place.

This system works around the clock and it is generally used in areas that include laboratories, rooms that contain computer servers, archive rooms, food storage areas, and rooms containing telecommunications equipment.

The Outcome.

As you can see there are a range of fire suppression systems that may be used in a commercial setting and as was stated at the beginning it is going to be in your best interest to seek the advice of a trained professional to advise you on what to do next. Forget about the cost and instead focus on your safety and the safety of others because that is something that you cannot put a price on.

Fire Suppression: Protect Your Data

Fire suppression systems are a common sight in offices and industrial buildings. They are designed to automatically stop or control a fire to keep information and workers safe. However, if your business requires many servers, your need for an excellent fire suppression system increases drastically.

Smoke detector

Do You Need Fire Suppression?

Every building can benefit from an automatic fire suppression system because you can’t be everywhere at once. A system ensures you, your workers and visitors are kept safe during a fire. Even if you are unaware of the fire, your automatic system kicks in to stop the threat.

If you have a server room or a data center, your chances of fire in your office increase. Therefore, having a fire suppression system is an absolute must. With so many servers, constantly working, these rooms get hot, and if electrical equipment fails, a fire could easily start. You need a fire suppression system to protect your data and people. In the event of a fire, a fire suppression system automatically turns on to douse the fire without the need for human interaction. These systems stop a fire in its tracks to keep your data safe and secure during a fire.

The goal of the suppression system is to detect the fire when it first starts. Then, using the water or gasses in your suppression system, control the fire. It stops the fire before it spreads to more servers or different areas in your business.

Classes of Fires

Not all fires are the same, and not every fire can be treated the same. In fact, some fire suppression methods may be ineffective on certain fires or even make them worse. To first understand fire suppression, you must understand the different classes of fires:

  • Class A: Class A fires have ordinary combustibles like wood, trash and paper.
  • Class B: Class B fires burn with flammable liquids or gases like gasoline, paint and propane.
  • Class C: Class C fires are electrical equipment fires, but once the power source has been removed, it turns into another class, based on the substance burning.
  • Class D: Class D fires have combustible metals as their fuel, which includes potassium, sodium and magnesium.
  • Class K: Class K fires are those that burn in cooking oils and greases like animal and vegetable fats.

Types of Fire Suppression

Overhead water sprinklers are the most basic fire suppression system, and they are appropriate for class A fires. When these sprinklers sense smoke, they spray water throughout the office, drenching the fire. Sprinklers are one of the most popular options for fire suppression because they work well.

Sprinkler system

Another option for stopping fires in your server room is an inert gas fire suppression system. The goal of this kind of system is to stop the fire by reducing the oxygen level. Instead of using water, it unleashes inert gasses. This combination of gasses overwhelms the oxygen and reduces it to below 15 percent but above 12 percent. At this low level, there isn’t enough oxygen for the fire to consume, forcing it to burn out. However, keeping it above 12 percent means there is still enough oxygen for people who are inside the room. Common inert gas systems include:

  • Inergen: Inergen is a mixture of 50 percent Argon, 42 percent Nitrogen and 8 percent CO2, and it is appropriate for class A and class B fires, including live electrical equipment risks.
  • Proinert: Also called Argonite, Proinert is a combination of 50 percent Argon and 50 percent Nitrogen. It is appropriate for class A and class B fires and live electrical equipment risks.
  • CO2: CO2 is Carbon Dioxide, and it is suitable for class A, B and C fires.

A third popular option is using chemical or synthetic gas. Unlike inert gas, the goal of this system is not to reduce oxygen. Similar to water, the chemicals and gasses are designed to cool the fire. As the temperature drops, the fire quickly burns out. Common chemical/synthetic gas fire suppression systems include:

  • FM200: FM200 has concentrated levels of 7.9 to 8.5 percent that absorb heat to reduce a fire’s temperature. It is suitable for class A and B fires and live electrical equipment risks.
  • Novec: Novec is similar to FM200, but it is more environmentally friendly.

Advantages of Automatic Fire Suppression

The first and most obvious advantage of a fire suppression system is that it stops fires and saves your information. Even if you are unaware that a fire has started in your server room, the system is aware. Without the need of human intervention, it starts working to quickly end the fire, so you don’t lose priceless and irreplaceable data.

Gas systems are especially fast at stopping fires. Inert gas systems take about 1-2 minutes to unleash enough gas to lower the oxygen level. Most of these systems succeed in extinguishing the fire in less than a minute. Even faster, synthetic gas fire suppressions take about 10 seconds to release its gas and cool the fire.

In addition to being fast, there are plenty of options from which you can choose. Whether it’s a mixture of Argon, Nitrogen and CO2 or 100 percent Nitrogen, you’ll find a system that works for your business and with which you feel comfortable. Plus, many of the options are not hazardous to humans or the environment when used in the proper amounts.

The final advantage is that if you choose an inert or synthetic gas option, there is generally no mess to clean up, except for any potential fire damage. They tent to not leave any residue behind or puddles of water or liquid, as with water suppression.

Disadvantages of Automatic Fire Suppression

Whatever fire suppression system you choose, there are some disadvantages to consider. Water suppression systems are the most popular, but they pose a risk when used in server rooms. Firstly, they require a large amount of clean up to remove the expelled water after the fire has been doused. Secondly, the water may actually worsen the damage to the servers or other IT equipment. Your information may be safe from a fire, but you may still lose it to water damage.

Inert gas fire suppression systems are one of the safest and is even considered a green option. However, if the system does not work properly, and oxygen falls below 12 percent, it poses serious danger to humans. If the oxygen falls to 10 to 12 percent, the first effects of asphyxiation are visible. Once the oxygen falls below 10 percent, the threat of death increases.

Chemical and synthetic gas fire suppression systems are also quite safe for your servers. Like inert gas, however, they pose dangers to humans when the systems are not designed correctly. High doses of the chemicals are toxic to humans. As with inert gas systems, it is important to ensure your system is in proper working condition at all times.

Other Factors to Consider for Your Fire Suppression

In addition to having a good fire suppression system, there are a few other factors to consider that will help with the fire. Firstly, help prevent a fire in the first place by ensuring your server room or data center is properly cooled with air conditioning. The most common cooling system is PAC (precision air conditioning), which offers close control air conditioning. This system doesn’t just keep the room cool, it also reduces humidity and filtrates particles, which reduces the risk of fire.

Second, you must choose the right system and backup system. The best type of fire suppression system is one that is gas based because it won’t cause further damage to the room or servers. However, even with a gas system, you need a water suppression system as a backup in the event the gas doesn’t work.

If you do choose to have a water suppression backup system, you need to be prepared for potential leaks when it isn’t being used. This is where water detection sensors on the floor help. They will notify you if water is leaking, which may damage your servers or even cause an electrical fire.

Before the fire even starts, make sure your server room is properly sealed. If the room isn’t sealed, the PAC system won’t work as well, and the gas fire suppression system will leak out of the room if it is activated, making it less effective.

You’ll also want an emergency power off (EPO) function. This allows you to turn off your servers with one quick action. Unfortunately, this does cause damage to your data, but overall, it helps you. If you do need to use a water suppression system, turning off the servers reduces the damage they receive. Turning off the servers may even completely stop the fire, if it was caused by an electrical malfunction in one of the servers.

Don’t put your data, business or workers in danger. A fire suppression system is the best way to keep your server room or data center protected in the event of a fire. Stop the spread and ensure your important date is not destroyed with an excellent fire suppression system.

Top Benefits of Fire Suppression Systems

Fire suppression systems are becoming increasingly famous all around the world due to their outstanding benefits. Based upon the principle: “Prevention is much better than a cure”, these modern systems provide fast, on-site protection from fire, allowing for immediate response during those initial critical minutes.

Fire suppression systems are made up of several mechanical and electrical components, including the control panel, audible alarms, smoke detection and fire suppression cylinder.

How does a Fire suppression System Work?

This system works in three ways. First and foremost, it detects smoke. Next on, it uses a powerful Oxygen reduction system combined with a heat removal system to reduce oxygen levels by 12-14% and reduce heat by around 6%. A combination of electronic sounders and bells are connected to the control panel, so when the system detects smoke, the alarm goes off. It takes about 30 seconds for the fire suppression agent to be discharged.

FM-200 fire suppression system at NERSC

Benefits of Fire Suppression Systems

As an increasing number of companies are using these systems to protect their buildings and employees, it is worth studying the benefits of a fire suppression system.

  • Safe & Very Easy to Use: these systems are specially designed to activate automatically, which means they do not require human intervention. However, they offer a manual override option in certain cases of emergency.
  • Early Detection: compared to the previous generation of fire detection systems, these modern fire suppression devices offer immediate response to fire and smoke.
  • Eliminate Fuel Sources: the electrical or fuel source of a fire contained within equipment will more than often continue to feed the fire long after it has been ignited. A huge benefit of fire suppression systems is that they eliminate this fuel source automatically due to the powerful agents used.
  • Can be Used Almost Everywhere: fire suppression limited systems can be installed in almost any environment, from simple storage units to archive centres, telecommunication or computer servers. Companies can choose either of the two types of fire suppression systems: synthetic agent or inert gas. Regardless of the choice, the system operates efficiently to protect the property and the lives of the employees.
  •  Tested to Ensure Success & Pre-Engineered: all of these systems are tested in stringent laboratories, being designed to comply with all fire & safety regulations. These devices are pre-tested to extinguish any type of fire.


The Bottom Line

Fire Suppression Systems are definitely the hot trend in the business world, both in the UK and in the US.

3 tips when choosing fire suppression system specialists

Remember – fire prevention is imperative, and can save lives. A fire suppression system is designed to protect you home or business, and should be installed to provide a safeguard in the event of a fire. There are various fire suppression systems on the market, including water-based solutions, as well as fire suppression systems which reduce gases or chemical agents. When it comes to fire safety, choosing the best fire suppression specialist doesn’t have to be a chore. In fact, there are many qualified and experienced companies that specialize in the sale and installation of this equipment. However, you will need to do your research to ensure that you receive good customer service and the best value-for-money. Here are three tips when choosing a fire suppression specialist.

Argonite automatic fire suppression system server room

1. Use a price comparison website

A price comparison website will enable you to compare and contrast services of fire suppression specialists in your local area, providing you with all the information you need to make an informed decision. You will be able to compare criteria such as price, type of equipment, and installation costs – saving you a lot of time, money and hassle. Companies that manufacture this type of equipment include Aspect Fire Solutions, Novec, Nobel Fire Systems, and Amerex Fire International.

2. Use a referral

Check out third-party review websites that feature reviews that have been left by people who have purchased fire suppression equipment in the past, or have used a fire suppression specialist previously. This will enable you to find out about the customer service and value-for-money that can be expected when enlisting the services of a particular company. Alternatively, you might want to ask friends or colleagues if they have used fire suppression equipment before in the past, and whether they can recommend a particular service. Remember – when checking out third party review websites, consider all ratings and reviews that have been left by customers before enlisting the services of a particular company.

3. Contact companies directly

Use the internet and browse through the websites of companies in your area that specialize in fire suppression services. Once you have two or three companies that you might be interested in, you can contact them directly and ask for a full and final quote. You might also want to ask the customer representative how soon they will be able to install the equipment, how long it will take, and whether you can be present in your home or business during the installation process. For example residential suppression systems that use a water sprinkler may be labor intensive, as the system will need to rely on a separate plumbing assembly.