Debate Heats Up on Class C Extinguishants

Dupont, Wilmington, Del., is asking that Comment ROC 2001-61a, which proposes changes to the minimum Class C design concentration requirements, not be adopted. Comment ROC 2001-61a is up for floor vote at the National Fire Protection Assn. (NFPA) meeting during the NFPA World Safety Conference and Expo, scheduled for June 3 to June 7, in Boston.

05/01/2007


Dupont, Wilmington, Del., is asking that Comment ROC 2001-61a, which proposes changes to the minimum Class C design concentration requirements, not be adopted.

Comment ROC 2001-61a is up for floor vote at the National Fire Protection Assn. (NFPA) meeting during the NFPA World Safety Conference and Expo, scheduled for June 3 to June 7, in Boston.

The Comment seeks a 33% increase to the minimum Class C concentration requirements of clean agent fire extinguishants as specified in NFPA Standard 2001. Dupont says that this action will increase system costs by at least 33%. “The redundancy that it would require would result in unnecessary costs to the industry and consumers while providing no meaningful improvement to safety,” the company said in a March 14 press release. Further, Dupont says it has a study that reviews past and recent testing related to Class C fires and examines the implications of these studeies with respect to the minimum design concentration of clean agents necessary to extinguish Class C fires.

Jeff Harrington, president of the Harrington Group Inc., Duluth, Ga., and chairman of the NFPA Technical Committee GFE-AAA, which is responsible for shepherding the standard through NFPA procedures, said that “Dupont is acting out of committee process.”

Harrington breaks down how the committee process works:

• Anyone in the world—the public—can review standards and review requirements and can submit a public proposal if they want to see a change, clarification or deletion. This happens when a standard enters a revision cycle, which occurs every three years.

• During this time, NFPA keeps track of and issues a log of proposals to the committee, in this case Committee GFE-AAA.

• The Committee meets and considers each proposal and then takes action on the proposal, an action might be that the proposal is considered of little or no value, or that the proposal is accepted. The proposal must be accepted or rejected by 51% majority to move on.

• All of the proposals on each end are written up by NFPA and compiled into a document, which the committee reviews. The committee votes by ballot to accept or reject the entire committee action. If there is a 2/3 majority, the committee report is passed and published as an ROP—Report on Proposals.

• The ROP is published as a book and made available to the public. The public has the right to submit comments to the committee, which then can review such comments.

• The committee makes another decision to uphold or change its mind, by simple majority, which is then sent to NFPA.

• NFPA sends out a ballot package to committee members, who vote to accept the package by 2/3 majority. If accepted the package becomes an ROC —Report on Comment.

Harrington says that Dupont has a representative on the committee, Mark Robin (who could not be reached), and also an alternate member on the committee. As members, Dupont has the right to voice opinion and present substantiation—such as its study—and debate these issues during the committee meeting and place a vote during the committee process.

“What is happening is Dupont is hoping to bring broad awareness to the voting membership to this particular issue,” Harrington said. “And Dupont is hoping that by doing so that this will be voted in its favor.

“This is a factual statement,” Harrington continued. “I'm not trying to say I disagree or that there is anyting wrong with what they are doing. In truth, there has been a lot of testing done during the last 12 to 15 years. I have in my own possession 13 test reports where in some cases, under certain conditions, more agent was required.”

Dupont's study, “Development of a Standard Procedure for the Evaluation of the Performance of Clean Agents in the Suppression of Class C Fires,” stated that the current minimum Class C design concentrations lgevels are sufficient and the revisions outlined in ROC 2001-61a are not justified by Dupont's field experience.

The Dupont study stated:

• Field results don't justify ROC 2001-61a.

• The cited studies do not justify ROC 2001-61a. With one exception, the cited studies are flawed in both their use of materials and in the test conditions employed, and are characterized by poor reproductability.

• The results of recent testing by Dupont and Fike don't justify ROC 2001-61a.

A copy of the report is available at www.cleanagents.dupont.com





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