The number of CNC machines throughout the world has grown dramatically as they have become established as state-of-the-art equipment for milling, drilling, grinding, tapping, honing, turning and other operations critical to manufacturing. These machines can cost up to $200,000 each, and are designed to run 24/7 in a demanding, often grueling work environment.
Fires in CNC machines are commonplace. Using oil-based coolants, typically combustible petroleum or mineral oil, flash fires are reported as a “fireball” when oil mist is ignited.
Machine fires can be catastrophic for the operator, cause expensive down time, costly repairs, possible human injury, and damage to the plant and equipment. Fire protection of CNC and other machine tools is critically important. While sprinklers are often required by insurance, they will only control the spread of a fire throughout a plant.
Stat-X generators are a compact, economical and reliable fire extinguishing solution for protecting the CNC machine and operator. A Stat-X unit consists of an extremely rugged, sealed, stainless steel canister containing a stable, solid compound. The canister is durable and non-pressurized, and is designed to withstand the harshest environments.
Stat-X units are available either as electrically activated units, integrated with a variety of fire detection systems, or as manually activated units with a cable-pull action. They are available in several sizes, adaptable to a great variation of applications.
Typical CNC and machine tool installations include a single Stat-X aerosol generator installed with a linear heat fire detection system, an interface with the machine’s emergency shutdown system, and a release control panel. The simplicity of the system results in an extremely robust and versatile fire suppression system for the machine shop owner. Retrofitting into CNC machines is fast and easy, and requires minimum installation time.
In the event of a fire, Stat-X units automatically release ultra-fine particles and propellant inert gases, which quickly and effectively extinguish fires without depleting the oxygen levels and with no negative impact on the environment.
The Stat-X unit is designed to extinguish the fire in seconds, often even before an operator has time to react, and to put out the fire, enabling production to resume within an hour. Stat-X fire suppression systems are being used by hundreds of tools used by machine, and tool and die shops throughout the world. This is a proven solution that can save you downtime, costly repairs, and greatly reduce the risk of human injury.
Kitchen suppression systems are designed, tested, and approved to provide fire protection for commercial kitchen cooking appliances, hoods, and ducts. The suppression systems consist of an agent storage tank, manual release station, an automatic releasing mechanism, and supply piping that directs the agent to nozzles strategically positioned at heat sources in the kitchen.
NFPA 17 requires that every 12 years the agent-holding tank, whether it is a pressurized or non-pressurized system tank, must be pulled out of service to be tested.
For all systems, the agent storage tank must be pressure tested to ensure the integrity of the cylinder. There are many types and manufactures of kitchen commercial wet chemical systems, each one has different test pressures for the cylinder, which are set by the manufacturer. Once filled with water, and sometimes oil, the cylinder is capped off, then pressurized to the manufacture test pressure and held at that pressure for no less than 1 minute. These systems are often tested to almost two times the service pressure.
On a non-pressurized system, there is a cartridge that pushes the agent out of the cylinder. This cartridge is replaced every 12 years. In some instances, these systems can have a burst disc that would need to be replaced before the 12-year hydrostatic test is scheduled.
Pressurized systems have valve stems, O-rings, and pins that need to be replaced. This is called a rebuild kit.
Once all of the cylinders are tested, dried, and documented they get filled back up with the proper wet chemical agent and put back into service if there is not any issues with the test pressures. All systems, both pressurized and non-pressurized, get new agent during a 12-year hydrostatic test. For certain suppression systems, hoses will need to be replaced at the 12-year hydrostatic test.
Stat-X fire suppression systems are an extremely effective method for protecting your valuable assets from fire. Due to their fast response time, compact size, low fire extinguishing concentration, and environmental safety, Stat-X fire suppression systems may be used in critical applications across a wide range of industries — especially in areas where weight and space savings are important.
Benefits of Stat-X Systems
Stat-X uses an aerosol suppression agent disbursed directly from the Stat-X generators; this means there is no piping to run and maintain. In addition, the generators are designed to be mounted onto walls at ceiling height, saving valuable floor space in your facility.
Your Life Safety Partner must be trained, certified and authorized to design and install a Stat-X system. Installation design includes data on dimensions, areas of leakage and location of uncloseable openings, and fire class among other factors.
Maintenance & Inspections of Stat-X Systems
Inspections are an important, and required, part of any Life Safety system. You should have your Stat-X systems inspected twice a year. Your Life Safety Partner will examine the generators and protected space to ensure that the generators and mounting brackets, straps, and associated hardware have not been damaged.
It is also important that the system installation and space remain in the same configuration as that originally designed, so that the Stat-X generator can function properly and distribute the aerosol efficiently in the event of a fire. If the generators have been bumped by maintenance or other workers, they will be re-aligned to the correct position for effective discharge. In addition, your Inspector will check the protected space to ensure access to the hazard areas, lines of egress, and manual pull stations are unobstructed.
Electrically activated systems will have the detection and control system, including all ancillary devices, at the same time your generators are inspected. All Stat-X generators have been UL approved for a service life of 10 years.
Overall, Stat-X systems are extremely cost-effective due to the small amount of agent required to suppress a fire, and reduced installation costs from traditional systems. Ask your Life Safety Partner about using Stat-X in your facility’s data room or on other high value equipment.
To learn about the differences between Stat-X and Clean Agent Systems, you can read a comparison in A1’s blog on Server Room Fire Protection Options.
A1 is a leading expert on the latest technology in life safety. To find out more information or to ask a question, click here or call us at 1-800-859-6198.
Clean Agent Systems are a great way to protect your sensitive equipment and assets. It’s effective fire suppression with no water, residue or oily deposits. Now, you can extend your clean agent system by protecting several enclosed spaces from a single agent supply.
Storing clean agent tanks within your IT room can cause problems including a lack of floor space for the valuable material you need to protect. Your protected space should be reserved for the expensive assets and computer equipment for which the room is designed, not your fire suppression equipment. Most IT rooms are not designed with a large (up to 1,500 lbs) clean agent tank in mind – not the floor space, aisle size, or door width. While some property owners will build the room around the tank, this is a short-term solution.
If your clean agent system activates, your tanks will need to be removed from the room and sent to a recharging facility to be refilled with the suppression agent. If you room is modified or expanded, you may need to send your tanks to have the amount of agent increased or add tanks to your system. With a room built around the large tanks, you now have major construction in your plans which could have been avoided.
With a 725 psi clean agent system you can store your tanks in a closet, basement or mechanical room. These clean agent systems have the capability of a longer piping network which allows for tanks to be moved further from the protected area. The new “Multi-Zone” technology also allows you to protect several enclosures with a single agent supply. This design flexibility can make clean agent systems a better solution for your facility and provide more cost effective solutions.
For more in-depth information about the advantages of 725 psi clean agent systems, check out A1’s Lunch & Learns for architects and engineers.
A1 is a leading expert on the latest technology in life safety. To find out more information or to ask a question, click here or call us at 1-800-859-6198.
You already know that you do not want a water based sprinkler system in your IT room where the water can harm your expensive electronics. Clean Agent systems are a great option for fire protection in server rooms. You can learn more about using a Clean Agent system in your server room here. Another option for server room fire protection is an aerosol based system called Stat-X. We will outline here the differences between Clean Agent Systems and Stat-X systems to help you determine which option would work best for you.
What components make up the Clean Agent System and Stat-X System?
To understand the differences outlined below, it is important to understand what elements make up the two systems. A Clean Agent System utilizes tanks of up to 1,500 lbs. each and fixed piping to distribute the chemical agent into the server room from the tanks. This system has an independent agent release alarm panel which is connected to your building’s fire alarm panel.
A Stat-X system consists of aerosol canisters/generators ranging from 30 to 2,500 grams, which can be heat activated or connected to an independent agent release alarm panel (which connects to your building’s fire alarm panel). The Stat-X generators hold the Stat-X compound, coolant, and have exit ports on the bottom meaning there is no need for any piping.
Both systems would include components for fire detection, a manual pull station, and alarm components such as horns and strobes.
As your business grows, so will your server room. Eventually, it may be necessary to reconfigure your space or add on. When that happens, your Life Safety Partner will need to evaluate and reconfigure your fire suppression system to fit the new layout of your server room.
If your Clean Agent tanks are stored in the IT room, the tanks may need to be removed during construction and put back when the construction is complete. If you are expanding the space, you will either need more agent in your current tank(s), which includes shipping the tanks to refilling facilities and awaiting their return, or you may have to get additional tanks. These changes will definitely mean you need to modify your piping, which could include adding additional piping to the current configuration but could also mean replacing your existing piping with a larger size. With the space changes, it is also likely you will need to relocate or extend your detection devices which will include reinstalling or adding items. It’s possible that your space change will require you to start your clean agent system design from scratch. During this time, your system will not be functioning to protect the space.
With a Stat-X system, you may also need to relocate or extend your detection system, which can include reinstalling or adding detection system components. Room alterations will also require you to relocate or extend the flexible releasing circuit, reinstall or add new Stat-X generators. The main differences here are that your system can remain operational throughout the remodel, there is no piping to reconfigure, and no large tanks to add to your system or send for refill.
Preparing a Room for Use
A Clean Agent System must have a sealed room to maintain the gas at certain levels in order to put out the fire and prevent it from reigniting. Learn more on how a room is constructed and tested in order to guarantee correct room pressurization for a Clean Agent System.
Stat-X systems operate at normal room pressurization. This means there is no need to seal the room or test the room’s pressurization capability each year.
Effectiveness of Fire Suppression Method
Clean Agent Suppression works by cooling the fire, removing the heat component of the fire triangle. The source of fire is still present which puts you at risk for a reflash, unless you have a switch that shuts down all power to your server room (which helps with the fire source but can damage your servers). Clean Agent chemicals are designed to maintain fire suppression for 10 minutes, before it dissipates you should have trained personnel respond to the location to watch for any reflash that may occur.
Instead of cooling or displacing oxygen, Stat-X systems break up the fire’s chemical reaction by interacting with the free radicals that fuel the growth of the fire. The chemical agents in Stat-X are 10 times more effective in terms of weight of agent per volume to extinguish the same flammable liquid fire. Also, Stat-X chemical agents can stay suspended in room for hours to prevent reignition, removing the danger of reflash for much longer than 10 minutes.
There are different clean agent chemicals, one of the most commonly used agents is FM 200. Both FM 200 and Stat-X chemicals are included in the US EPA’s SNAP list (Significant New Alternatives Policy), which lists acceptable halon alternatives. However, FM 200 has a 4300 GWP/36.5 year atmospheric lifetime, while Stat-X is more environmentally friendly with zero ozone and global warming potential.
Space in your server room should be reserved for your valuable electronic equipment. A Clean Agent System does have the capability to store the agent tanks outside of your server room; however, it does present the possibility for problems with your system as there is now piping for your agent outside of the room where the agent would be required to suppress a fire. (Click here for more information about the pros and cons of storing clean agent tanks outside of your server room.)
The Stat-X generators must be in the server room but they are wall mounted and occupy minimal space, saving your server room space for electronics.
A1 is a leading expert on the latest technology in life safety. To find out more information or to ask a question, click here or call us at 1-800-859-6198.
Whether it is a server, network, or telecommunications equipment, electronics are valuable to your business and protecting them from fire damage is important for ensuring your business can continue without interruption. A room-wide fire protection system is not always necessary, if you have your equipment housed in a cabinet it is possible to have local application fire protection.
From 2006 to 2010, there were an estimated 209 reported U.S. structure fires per year that started in electronic equipment rooms. According to the National Archives & Records Administration in Washington, 93% of companies that lost their data center for 10 days or more due to a disaster filed for bankruptcy within one year of the disaster.
In-rack fire detection and suppression units are available to protect electronics that are housed in a fully-enclosed cabinet. These systems are designed to fit in the rack, usually of a 19” cabinet and include a smoke aspiration system with two sensors, an agent container with release mechanism and discharge nozzles, a power supply and emergency back-up power supply.
Room-wide systems such as a clean agent system or Stat-X system, work really well for protecting server rooms and the equipment kept there. However, if you have an equipment cabinet stored outside of your server room then these systems are probably more than you need to protect that space. An in-rack system will protect your equipment within the cabinet, putting the fire suppression system as close to the critical equipment as possible, without the higher expense of a room-wide system.
Another benefit of in-rack systems, is that they can detect and suppress deep-seated fires within the equipment cabinet. Electronics and IT racks can experience smoldering fires deep within the equipment. A room-wide system would probably not be able to detect this fire in the incipient stages, whereas an in-rack system can detect the fire early on and also has the ability to flood the cabinet with the suppression agent and extinguish the fire. In a room-wide system it can be difficult for the chemical agent to disperse within the IT equipment sufficiently to suppress a deep-seated fire within the equipment.
In-rack suppression systems are made with a Clean Agent chemical. This means there is no damage to your electronics and no clean-up after use. The system operates in two states – pre-alarm and fire alarm. On pre-alarm, power circuits can be switched off simultaneously with the alarm signal, isolating supporting electrical energy. On fire alarm, the extinguishing system is activated and the extinguishing agent vaporizes at the nozzle and is distributed throughout the cabinet to rapidly extinguish the fire. Separate outputs are available to activate external audible or visual alarms, as well as outputs for external power shut downs. The systems also have a control panel with display, fault and status LEDs and operating keys. Various models of in-rack systems are available, some of which can be used together to protect up to five combined cabinets.
In-rack fire suppression systems offer a highly sensitive smoke detection and fire extinguishing system for your electronic cabinets. For more in-depth information about this topic, check out A1’s Lunch & Learns for architects and engineers.
The National Fire Protection Association is a global nonprofit organization devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards. NFPA is widely known for its codes and standards which establish criteria for building, processing, design, service, and installation of fire protection systems. Several NFPA codes are being updated for 2017, here we will discuss some of the changes to NFPA 96, which covers Ventilation Control and Fire Protection of Commercial Cooking Operations.
Carbon Dioxide Extinguishers Not Permitted
10.9.4 was added to state carbon dioxide extinguishers are not permitted for use in Commercial Cooking Kitchens. Class K extinguishers are the recommended extinguisher for kitchen use.
Class K Extinguisher Placard
For each Class K Extinguisher in your kitchen, you need a placard conspicuously placed with each that states the extinguishing system be activated prior to using the extinguisher.
10.5 states that all systems are required to have both automatic and manual methods of actuation, and at least be located in a means of egress or placement acceptable to AHJ, and clearly identify the hazard protected. Sprinkler systems don’t require manual actuation.
Training for Extinguishers and System Manual Actuation
It is now required for managers to provide and document instruction on extinguishers and manual actuation for new employees at hiring, and to all employees annually. Records for training must be maintained and made available to the AHJ. In addition, instructions for use must be posted conspicuously.
Emptying of Grease Cans
11.6.16 was added to require that grease cans be inspected or emptied once every week.
Contact your Life Safety Partner for help updating your kitchen suppression system to comply with all 2017 code updates. This information is based on first and second draft revisions to the NFPA code for 2017. A1 strives to ensure the information we provide in our blogs is accurate, the information we provide is based on research and our understanding of State Fire Codes and NFPA regulations. You should always review the complete NFPA standards and local codes for where you are, as local and state requirements may differ.
Clean Agent Systems are the best fire protection system for your server rooms. For this suppression system to work properly, your server room construction needs to be specifically designed to limit leaks and hold the gaseous agent.
In reports from the NFPA, when automatic extinguishing equipment was reported present, sprinklers were reported in 72% of the fires. Wet-pipe sprinklers were reported for 90% of the fires with sprinklers present, compared to 7% for dry-pipe sprinklers and 3% for other sprinklers.
When wet-pipe sprinklers were present, 56% of fires were reported as too small to activate operational sprinklers. Clean agent systems can activate faster than traditional wet-pipe sprinklers and, since they do not use water, will not damage your electrical equipment when used. Debris, smoke, and water clean-up wreaks havoc on electronic gear. It also prevents your business from getting back to business as usual.
Server Room Construction for a Clean Agent Suppression System
Server rooms are generally constructed with the perimeter walls extending from the true ceiling (as opposed to drop ceilings and the like) to the lowest structural unit, either the floor itself or the concrete slab underneath the floor. This creates a fire rated barrier for the room and reduces the leaks a room will have in an Integrity Fan Test.
Server rooms should be prepared for a clean agent suppression system by inspecting the walls and slab for leakage points, sealing them with fire retardant materials, and fitting the doors with pressure seals around the jams and thresholds.
When constructing a server room, your contractors should ensure the following points are followed to allow for a clean agent suppression system.
Doors & Windows
- All doors must have a threshold and sweep installed
- Egress doors should swing out of the protected space
- Doors may require weather stripping around the jam to ensure an air tight seal
- Latching mechanisms are necessary and door closures are required
- If doors to the server room must remain open, an electromagnet door holder will be required which can be released prior to agent discharge
- All types of windows, pass through, or openings must be fire caulked and sealed
- Porous block walls must be sealed from slab-to-slab to prevent gas from leaking out of the block; two or three coats of paint are typically required
- Server rooms should be enclosed with wall partitions that extend slab-to-slab; in areas where this is not possible, all ceiling tiles should be clipped and openings caulked
- All walls should be caulked around the inside perimeter of the room where the walls rest on the floor slab and the walls intersect with the ceiling slab above
- Upgraded, noncombustible ceiling tiles are recommended
- Drywall should be caulked at the joints of the walls and floor, and at the roof or floor above
- Any penetration to the walls, including conduit, cable trays, outlets, switches and wire troughs, must be fire caulked and sealed
- If a raised floor continues out of the protected space, bulkheads must be installed under the floor directly under the partitions; these bulkheads must be caulked top and bottom
- All floor drains should have traps which are designed to have water in them at all times
- To ensure the protected area is air tight, dampers may be required in the ductwork at the perimeter walls of each protected space
- Dampers must be spring loaded or motor operated to provide 100% air shut off
- A 5% minimum leakage requirement must be met so the dampers must be UL #5555
- With clean agent fire suppression, the HVAC will be shut down prior to discharge, self-contained HVAC units may continue to run (if included in design calculations)
- HVAC shut down control relays should be installed to within 3 feet of each unit
- All exhaust fans should be dampered; fire alarm system control relays are used to shut down any fans
- All fresh air intakes should be dampered and closed using fire alarm system control relays
Power and Interface Wiring
- 120 VAC dedicated 15 AMP circuit to the suppression control panel is required
- Power to all dampers – control relays within 3 feet of damper
- Fire alarm monitoring – contacts for alarm, supervisory and trouble conditions are available within the fire control panel; connection is handled by your fire system contractor
- Purge system control wiring to HVAC units and exhaust fans are interfaced with fire alarm system control panel; connection is handled by your fire system contractor
Pressure Relief Vents
While ensuring that your server room is sufficiently sealed to contain the suppression agent for at least 10 minutes, you also have to take into consideration the maximum amount of pressure the room’s construction can withstand. The suppression agent is released with force, in a sealed room, if not calculated properly the pressure could be higher than the room can withstand. NFPA 2001, Section 5.3.7 states, “if the developed pressures present a threat to the structural strength of the enclosure, venting shall be provided to prevent excessive pressures.” Your suppression system designer should calculate Peak Pressure equations for your server room to determine if you need Pressure Relief Vents installed.
In addition to calculating if a pressure relief vent is necessary, and what size it should be, your designer should also calculate the leakage rate for the vent to ensure it will open and close at the correct pressure and will vent the proper amount of pressure to outdoors.
If Pressure Relief Vents need to be installed, here are some guidelines for optimizing performance:
- Install vents as high as possible so that the lighter air, not the denser agent, is vented
- Vents should open at pressures no lower than .007 PSI (50 Pa) so they don’t open unintentionally under normal HVAC pressures and no higher than .02 PSI (100 Pa) so the pressure is vented early enough to prevent it from becoming excessive
- Specify the correct direction for venting with the Pressure Relief Vent. Inert agent discharges always create positive pressures and must have venting out of the enclosure, but halocarbons may create positive and/or negative pressures creating a need to be vented in either direction or both, depending on the agent and the humidity
- All Pressure Relief Vents should be inspected annually to confirm they will open according to their specifications and to verify that the vent path to outdoors has not been accidently restricted
Do I have to put the clean agent tanks in my data room?
Networks and Servers are the backbone of an organization. If you had to complete all transactions manually for a week, how would your business and customers cope? Server rooms typically house the most concentrated cluster of expensive assets. Your clean agent tanks don’t have to be in the same room to work properly.
No, you can store them in a neighboring space.
Space in your server room is valuable, you want to utilize the protected space in your server room for the necessary electronic hardware. This is an advantage of clean agent suppression systems, as you can have the chemical agent tanks stored in a neighboring space, such as a supply closet, instead of inside the server room itself.
Clean Agent Systems are the best method of fire protection for IT rooms as they provide protection which, when activated, will not cause damage to your equipment as water from a traditional sprinkler will. If water on your expensive electronic equipment wasn’t bad enough, the water sitting in sprinkler pipes is not clear, clean water like you see in the movies. Typically, it is dirty water pouring over your electronics.
Before you store your clean agent tanks outside your server room, understand the advantages of having them inside your server room.
You need to be aware that storing the clean agent tanks in a neighboring space means you need to be diligent in your pipe inspections. If you have a leak in the pipes between your tanks and the server room, you may lose too much agent at discharge to suppress the fire. While your Life Safety Partner can inspect the pipes and test them each year during your annual inspections, problems can crop up in between inspections. If the tanks are stored in your IT room, then a leak is not as problematic since the agent is still ending up in the IT room where the fire is occurring.
In 2015, there was a fire every 23 seconds totaling 1,345,500 fires in the US alone, causing in excess of $14.3 billion in property damage. The goal of a fire protection system is to detect and alert of fire in the early stages and then bring the fire under control. The advantages of early detection are to allow as much time as possible for evacuation and to protect assets from extensive damage.
Server rooms are small spaces designed to accommodate valuable electronic systems which generate a large amount of heat, therefore requiring heavy cooling and ventilation. The combination of heat producing devices and the sensitivity of the electronic equipment put specific requirements on the fire safety system.
A highly sensitive Aspirated Smoke Detector created specifically for smaller areas is the preferred choice for smoke detection in server rooms. Air-aspirating, or air-sampling detectors, are able to detect a fire in its incipient stages and therefore provide earlier warning and faster response time for the suppression system. Air-aspirating detection has the ability to detect smoke at differing levels and provide corresponding alarms; for example, if the detector finds a very low level of smoke, indicating that a fire is about to begin (such as an overheated wire that is smoking), a pre-alarm signal can be activated to alert staff to investigate and take action. If high levels of smoke are detected the suppression system can be discharged to control the fire.
Another option is cross-zoned, spot-type smoke detectors, using multiple technologies. These detectors often have multiple analog sensors so that they respond to smoke, heat and carbon dioxide sensing elements. You can use photoelectric smoke detectors, as they are cheaper than the ones using multiple technologies, but they do not react as quickly to every fire scenario. The multi-criteria detectors are often able to respond faster than traditional type detectors and reduce false alarms. Cross-zoned smoke detection is the preferred strategy to use in server rooms with spot-type smoke detectors as it relies on the activation of two alarms before the suppression system is activated. While this limits the potential for false alarms setting off the suppression system, it can result in a delay of activation when the suppression system is needed. However, with the increased ventilation and airflow in the server room, the cross-zoned system is necessary with spot-type smoke detectors to ensure the space is sufficiently protected.
Some server rooms utilize a pressurized raised floor to provide cold air to IT equipment and an above-ceiling area as a hot air return. Due to the potential for fire within these areas, because of HVAC piping, electrical feeders, or IT cables, detectors should be placed within these spaces.
IT rooms are laid out with the basic premise to isolate hot aisles and cold aisles from each other and prevent hot and cold air from mixing. This system helps to keep IT equipment cool while also being an energy and cost-saving measure for server rooms. If this system is in place in your server room, the layout of the room and any barriers constructed need to be taken into consideration when designing the fire detection and suppression system – if it prevents the flow of air it will prevent the flow of smoke and suppression gas.
What does in-rack detection and suppression mean?
Smoke detection and suppression systems have been designed to fit in an enclosed IT rack. While this type of system is optional in a server room fire suppression system, it has advantages of early detection within the server rack. Being placed within the IT equipment, the system can detect smoke in the earliest stages shut down the connected equipment while activating fans to prevent a fire from overheating devices. Should the fire continue the system will release a suppression agent within the rack enclosure. Read more about these systems here.
Learn more about server room fire protection, and why clean agent systems are the best choice to protect electronics.