Fire Suppression Systems


What are Fire Suppression Systems?

Fire suppression systems cover a wide range of devices and equipment used for preventing the spread of fire and in a lot of cases completely extinguishing it.. These instruments may be used to detect and eliminate fire in order to reduce any damages that fires can cause. These devices may use water, dry chemicals or wet chemical or a combination. In addition, these systems are governed by certain policies and standards to ensure the preservation of life and protection of property.

Fire sprinklers make up one of the categories in fire suppression systems. Fire sprinklers discharge water when the presence of fire is detected within the area. Sprinklers are able to determine the onset of fire once a predetermined temperature exceeds within its area of coverage.

A majority of buildings nowadays use fire sprinklers as it is considered as one of the best instruments in controlling fire. In fact, an average of 40 to 50 million sprinklers are installed in the United States alone. The installation and application of sprinklers within structures in the USA are regulated by the National Fire Protection Association or NFPA and in the UK there are certain British Standards depending on the specifics and location.

Almost all automatic fire sprinklers are independently-operated unless it is a part of a deluge system wherein the entire sprinkler system of a structure will activate when fire is detected. Because automatic sprinklers work individually, the only sprinklers that will be activated are those within the vicinity of the fire. This helps in maximizing the available water pressure needed to extinguish fire within the affected area. On the other hand, orifice systems work as deluge or water spray systems. They look like automatic sprinklers but without the heat-sensitive elements in the device.


In general, fire suppression systems can be categorized according to the type of element or chemical agents used. Wet Chemical Suppression System utilizes wet agents that can help in eliminating cooking fires in commercial areas. The liquid is sprayed on the burning surface which can be caused by cooking oils and fats.

These elements will quickly react with the liquid spray and produce foam that helps in cooling down the burning surface. This helps in preventing any possible re-ignition of fire. In the USA Wet chemical suppression systems are governed by NFPA17a and NFPA 96. NFPA 17a covers the standards for wet chemical extinguishing systems while NFPA 96 deals with the standards of ventilation control and fire protection for commercial cooking. Here in the UK we have various different British Standards and European Standards to follow.

Dry chemical suppression system makes use of dry chemicals which are effective in industrial areas. Dry chemical suppression devices need to be recharged after every use and they can efficiently cover wide areas, which make them a good alternative when there is limited water supply.

Gaseous fire suppression systems describe the types of equipment that utilize inert gases in preventing fire from spreading. Such devices also have chemical agent components. Gaseous fire suppression systems include devices such as fire detectors, fire control panels, agent release valves, agent delivery piping, agent dispersion nozzles, and agent storage containers.

The agents are delivered through these devices or as a solid propellant gas generator. Gaseous fire suppression systems extinguish fire through the reduction of fuel, heat, oxygen and in slowing down the chain reaction of such agents.

The application of gaseous fire suppression systems works in two ways. The total flooding application uses an extinguishing agent in a three-dimensional equipment. This helps in concentrating the agent so it can eliminate fire. Such instruments can be operated automatically upon detection.

It can also be operated manually by another person. Another type of system works through local application. This kind of system is directly applied to a fire occurring in a two-dimensional area. There are no physical barriers which enclose the fire space in a local application.



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