fire suppression

What is Stat-X?

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.Stat-X fire suppression

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.

Jack Menke
Jack Menke

Extend your Clean Agent System

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.

Jack Menke
Jack Menke

Server Room Fire Protection Options

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.

Room Alterations

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  fire-triangle

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.

Environmental Safety

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.

Physical Requirements

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.

Jack Menke
Jack Menke

Save space in your Server Room

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.

clean agent tank
A medium sized clean agent tank, with a fire extinguisher for size comparison.

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.

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.

Jack Menke
Jack Menke

Smoke & Fire Detection in a Server Room

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.

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.

Jack Menke
Jack Menke

Performing a Room Integrity Test for Clean Agent Systems

If you have a Clean Agent System, it is necessary to perform a Room Integrity Fan Test at installation and during your annual inspection.

What if you lost a single day’s worth of data? Even in a small business of 15 office employees, saving work on a network server can be expensive. What if you lost a week, or even a month of data?

In 2006 to 2010, there were an estimated 209 reported U.S. structure fires per year that started in electronic equipment rooms. Clean Agent Systems are the best choice for fire protection in an IT room.

Inspections: Room Integrity Fan Test

A Room Integrity Fan Test, or Door Test, measures how well-sealed a room is by sealing the room and using a fan to draw a vacuum and pressurize the space. The fan speed is adjusted to obtain a flow pressure equal to that exerted during a fire suppression system discharge. The fan is also reversed to depressurize the room, and readings are taken at both the pressurized and depressurized state. Readings obtained are entered into a computer program designed to calculate the equivalent leakage area (ELA) for the room. Because it is measuring oxygen, which is lighter than clean agent chemicals, the ELA calculated is always a worst case leakage calculation for the room. The retention time for the air in the room is what decides if the room is properly sealed for a gaseous suppression system, as the gas must be able to be held in the room for long enough to extinguish the fire and ensure that it does not reignite. A minimum retention time of ten minutes applies in most cases.

If a Room Integrity Fan Test is unable to be conducted, NFPA 2001 Annex C.1.2.2 (5) allows for the option to seek approval from the Authority Having Jurisdiction to waive the quantitative results of a standard door fan test and instead conduct a detailed leak inspection. In this inspection, the door fan is used to blow air into the room while an inspector uses a smoke pencil to closely examine all floor and walls to look for leaks.

A Room Integrity Fan Test should be performed annually. Throughout the year, the property owner/manager should be maintaining a log of any penetration created in the room walls, etc. whether from internal staff or contractors. This information will be reviewed by the Fire Safety Professional performing the Room Integrity Fan Test. A clean agent fire suppression system is dependent on maintaining a certain level of the gas in the server room for a particular length of time, if the leaks are not sealed properly and too much gas leaks out then the fire may reignite.

Learn more about constructing a server room so that it is properly sealed for a clean agent system.

What other Inspections are needed for a Clean Agent Suppression System?

Twice a year clean agent suppression systems need to be inspected to check the agent quantity and pressure of the refillable containers. Your Inspector will also check the agent tanks for any physical damage that would require the tanks to be replaced. Annually, a detailed inspection of the clean agent system is required. During this inspection, all systems must be thoroughly inspected and tested to ensure proper operation (it is not required for the agent to be discharged). This is when your Room Integrity Fan Test will be performed. In addition, the hoses will be checked for signs of damage, and the smoke detectors will be tested along with your alarm panels. Your clean agent system has its own alarm panel separate from your building’s alarm panel. If you clean agent system is activated, it should notify and set off the alarm system for your building as a whole. Because of this, both the clean agent alarm panel and the building alarm panel are tested.

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.

Jack Menke
Jack Menke

Special Hazard Fire Suppression Systems

Our last article focused on Fire Sprinkler System types and how the different types are best used in particular structures or situations. The same variation is true for fire suppression systems used in special hazard applications. Here we will review the different technologies and their purposes.

Foam-Water

A foam-water fire sprinkler system is a special application system which discharges a mixture of water and low-, medium-, or high-expansion foam concentrate. This results in a foam spray from the sprinkler. This is usually used with special hazard occupancies associated with high challenge fires, such as flammable liquids and airport hangars. The foam-water application can be used in wet, dry, pre-action or deluge system.

Water Spray

Water spray systems are operationally identical to deluge systems, but the piping and discharge nozzle spray patters are designed to protect a uniquely configured hazard, usually being three-dimensional components or equipment. The nozzles are selected for a specific spray pattern to conform to the three-dimensional nature of the hazard. Some typical spray patterns are oval, fan, full circle, and narrow jet. Examples of hazards protected by water spray systems are electrical transformers containing oil for cooling or turbo-generator bearings. Water spray systems can also be used on the surfaces of tanks containing flammable liquids or gases (such as hydrogen). In this case, the water spray is intended to cool the tank and its contents to prevent tank rupture and fire spread.

Water Mist

A water mist system works by creating a heat absorbent vapor. This type of system is used when water damage is a concern or where water supplies are limited. By using a mist, an equal volume of water will create a larger total surface area exposed to the fire. The larger total surface area better facilitates the transfer of heat, thus allowing more water droplets to turn to steam more quickly. A water mist, which absorbs more heat than water per unit time, due to exposed surface area, will more effectively cool the room, thus reducing the temperature of the flame. NFPA 750 defines water mist as a water spray with a droplet size of “less than 1000 microns at the minimum operation pressure of the discharge nozzle.” Water mist systems use a compressed gas as an atomizing medium, which is pumped through the sprinkler pipe. Instead of compressed gas, some systems us a high-pressure pump to pressurize the water so it atomizes as it exits the sprinkler nozzle. Water mist systems can operate with the same functionality as deluge, wet pipe, dry pipe, or pre-action systems.

Clean Agent (Gaseous Fire Suppression)

NFPA 2001 defines clean agent as, “Electrically nonconductive, volatile, or gaseous fire extinguishant that does not leave a residue upon evaporation.” Clean agents are used when protecting high dollar, mission critical assets that would be destroyed by water, such as IT systems, data storage rooms, and manufacturing equipment, or irreplaceable items like intellectual property, art, and antiques. There are three ways clean agents can extinguish a fire: reduction of heat, reduction or isolation of oxygen, and inhibiting the chain reaction of the heat and oxygen.

Clean agent fire protection systems are comprised of the agent, agent storage containers, agent release valves, fire detectors, fire detection system (wiring control panel, actuation signaling), agent delivery piping, and agent dispersion nozzles. Less typically, the agent may be delivered by means of solid propellant gas generators that produce either inert or chemically active gas. Clean agents are applied with either total flooding or local application. Total flooding systems apply an extinguishing agent to a three dimensional enclosed space in order to achieve a concentration of the agent (volume percent of the agent in air) adequate to extinguish the fire. These types of systems may be operated automatically by detection and related controls or manually by the operation of a system actuator. Local application systems apply an extinguishing agent directly onto a fire (usually a two dimensional area), or into the three dimensional region immediately surrounding the substance or object on fire. The main difference in local application from total flooding design is the absence of physical barriers enclosing the fire space.

Condensed Aerosol

Condensed aerosol fire suppression is one of the most efficient forms of fire suppression. It is a particle-based form of fire extinction similar to gaseous fire suppression or dry chemical fire extinction. The aerosol employs a fire extinguishing agent consisting of very fine solid particles and gaseous matter to extinguish fires. The condensed aerosol microparticles and effluent gases are generated by the exothermic reaction; until discharged from the device, the particles remain in vapor state. They are cooled and “condensed” within the device and discharged as solid particles.  Condensed aerosols release finely-divided solids of less than 10 micrometers in diameter, the solid particles have a considerably smaller mass median aerodynamic diameter than those of dry chemical suppression agents, remain airborne significantly longer, and leave much less residue within the protected area. Condensed aerosols are flooding agents and therefore effective regardless of the location and height of the fire. This system does not require a room integrity test as it is flooding the space at room pressure; this will save you money in sealing the room and annual testing.

Dry Chemical

Dry chemical fire extinguishing agents are primarily used for fast knock down of high risk gas and liquids such as dip tanks, paint booths and gas filling stations. The dry chemicals work by preventing the chemical reactions involving heat, fuel, and oxygen (combustion). The substances in dry chemicals can also stop the break-down of fuel in the fire to prevent the creation of highly reactive fragments of molecules.

Wet Chemical

Primarily used in kitchen fire suppression, the wet chemical agent suppresses fire by cooling and reacting chemically to produce a foam layer on the grease. The foam seals combustible vapors, stopping the flames from re-igniting.

Fire Extinguishers

Fire Extinguishers may not be a part of the fire sprinkler system, but they are an integral part of your fire safety system. If the proper fire extinguisher is used correctly and promptly, more than 90% of fires are extinguishable. Most work environments are required by OSHA to have an emergency action plan, functioning extinguishers, and trained extinguisher operators. OSHA requirements vary, but safety does not – be safe, provide fire extinguishers and fire extinguisher training to your staff.

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.

Jack Menke
Jack Menke