Selecting a fire protection system

05/10/2013


System design, installation standards 

Virtually no comprehensive guidance facilitating the decision as to why one type of system should be chosen over another is available as a regulatory document or generic application guide. Instead, each reference standard tends to provide some commentary about the fire hazards that could be protected against using the given system addressed by the standard. Depending on the specific reference standard and system, certain design and installation provisions could also be provided. For instance, NFPA 12: Standard on Carbon Dioxide Extinguishing Systems includes information about the design of the carbon dioxide systems for a specific hazard once a decision has been made to install a carbon dioxide system for that hazard. Such information can include design concentrations, flooding factors, and volume factors specific to these types of systems.

Some standards relay system application information in other forms. NFPA 2001 provides advisory annex language indicating that clean agent fire extinguishing systems are useful within certain limits for extinguishing fires in specific hazards or equipment, and in occupancies where an electrically nonconductive medium is essential or desirable or where cleanup of other media presents a problem. Such total flooding clean agent systems are used primarily to protect hazards that are enclosed or equipment that in itself includes an enclosure to contain the agent. A list of typical hazards that could be suitable for protection by clean agent systems is provided and includes:

  • Electrical and electronic hazards
  • Subfloors and other concealed spaces
  • Flammable and combustible liquids and gases
  • High-value assets
  • Telecommunications facilities. 

NFPA 2001 also states that clean agent systems could be used for explosion prevention and suppression where flammable materials collect in confined areas. 

Inert gas systems are a safe, natural way to extinguish a fire. Shown is the soon-to-be launched 300-bar version of its PROINERT inert gas fire suppression system. Courtesy: Fike Corp.Other reference standards do not directly identify the hazards they are intended to protect, but rather tie the appropriateness of the system to specific listing and testing requirements. For example, NFPA 750: Standard on Water Mist Fire Protection Systems states that water mist protection systems are to be designed and installed for the specific hazards and protection objectives specified in the listing. The characteristics of the specific application, such as compartment variables and hazard classification, are to be consistent with the listing of the system. Furthermore, an evaluation of the compartment geometry, fire hazard, and system variables must be performed to ensure that the system design and installation are consistent with the system listing. 

In turn, NFPA 750 requires the listing of water mist fire protection systems to be based on a comprehensive evaluation designed to include fire test protocols, system components, and the contents of the manufacturer's design and installation manual. An annex in NFPA 750 includes a list of fire test protocols and the associated listing organizations. It should be obvious that the consulting design engineer needs to be sufficiently familiar with the application and limits of the listing protocols, as well as the design and installation manual for each type of water mist system that might be under consideration. 

It is important to recognize that with many of these “alternative” or “other” systems, not just water mist systems, a generic design approach, such as for automatic sprinkler systems as outlined in NFPA 13: Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems, does not exist. Many of these “alternative” systems are of a proprietary nature and the design and installation provisions are specific to the manufacturer of each type of system. For a given hazard, the design, installation, and operational details of one manufacturer’s water mist system are likely to be significantly different from that of another manufacturer. It is worth noting that even with sprinkler systems, more specialized devices are entering the marketplace.



No comments
Consulting-Specifying Engineer's Product of the Year (POY) contest is the premier award for new products in the HVAC, fire, electrical, and...
Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine is dedicated to encouraging and recognizing the most talented young individuals...
The MEP Giants program lists the top mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineering firms in the United States.
High-performance buildings; Building envelope and integration; Electrical, HVAC system integration; Smoke control systems; Using BAS for M&V
Pressure piping systems: Designing with ASME; Lab ventilation; Lighting controls; Reduce energy use with VFDs
Smoke control: Designing for proper ventilation; Smart Grid Standard 201P; Commissioning HVAC systems; Boilers and boiler systems
Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Consulting-Specifying Engineer case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.

Protecting standby generators for mission critical facilities; Selecting energy-efficient transformers; Integrating power monitoring systems; Mitigating harmonics in electrical systems
Commissioning electrical systems in mission critical facilities; Anticipating the Smart Grid; Mitigating arc flash hazards in medium-voltage switchgear; Comparing generator sizing software
Integrating BAS, electrical systems; Electrical system flexibility; Hospital electrical distribution; Electrical system grounding
As brand protection manager for Eaton’s Electrical Sector, Tom Grace oversees counterfeit awareness...
Amara Rozgus is chief editor and content manager of Consulting-Specifier Engineer magazine.
IEEE power industry experts bring their combined experience in the electrical power industry...
Michael Heinsdorf, P.E., LEED AP, CDT is an Engineering Specification Writer at ARCOM MasterSpec.