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Inert Fire Suppression Systems

With more and more companies choosing to transform into “green” or eco-friendly organizations, the use of inert fire suppression systems have quickly become a favourite.

Of all the known Clean Agents, inert gasses are the eco-friendliest of all, which is why they are now the top choices when it comes to implementing inert gas-using fire suppressors in commercial settings and workplaces. These are naturally occurring gases found in the environment, including in the air. In fact, the air is filled with these natural gases that are neither man made nor fossil gases.

Concept behind these Fire Suppression Systems

The air that human beings breathe in order to survive is comprised approximately of 21 percent oxygen. However, with combustion just needing 15 percent of this gas or higher, the risks of fires taking place are seriously high. Any level that is within or higher than this will create an environment where a fire can thrive and eat up anything on its path.

Yes, removing oxygen will certainly prevent fires from starting in the first place, or extinguish them if they have already started. However, doing so will pose another problem: the room’s or the building’s occupants will no longer be able to breathe properly and may suffocate. In other words, since oxygen is needed by humans to breathe, businesses and establishments cannot get rid of it completely just to prevent the occurrence of fires.

This is where inert gas fire suppression systems come into play. Since human beings only need about 12 percent of oxygen in the air to survive, these fire suppression technologies ensure that the levels of oxygen present in the environment are enough to allow for ease of breathing but not too high to support fires.

For fires to be extinguished while still enabling the occupants to breathe, these fire suppressors are designed in such a way that they reduce oxygen levels present in the air to below 15 percent but not too low that they go below 12 percent. This way, the fire can be put out without putting the life of the individuals in more danger.

The Hazards of Incorrectly Functioning Inert Gas Fire Suppressors

It is a must for business owners and organizations to understand the hazards associated with choosing a cheaply-built and low quality fire suppression system making use of inert gases. While these fire suppressors may be inexpensive, they can put the lives of the building’s occupants in even more danger if they cause the oxygen levels to become lower than 12 percent.

The following are the dangers associated with oxygen levels in the air being reduced too much:

  • Cognitive Disturbance. When the human body is starved of oxygen, confusion, disorientation, and uncertainty are sure to follow. These can be very dangerous as one needs to be alert in cases of emergency.
  • Fatigue. Fatigue will set in, making a person feel extremely tired, to the point of exhaustion. Again, this is extremely dangerous, as it may result in an individual no longer having the energy to react accordingly during cases of fire.
  • Shortness of breath. If the oxygen in a room with people inside reaches a level that is below 12 percent, the respiratory system is negatively affected. Shortness of breath will occur as this will result in the blood oxygen saturation going down considerably.

If the levels of oxygen are reduced far lower than 10 percent, the symptoms can quickly turn into life-threatening ones. This is why it is crucial for the inert gas suppression systems to be correctly designed and properly manufactured to ensure that such unnecessary problems will not take place.

Fire Suppression Systems Using Inert Gases

Inert gas fire suppression systems are widely regarded as safe and natural methods to extinguish fires. They feature unique valve assemblies, which allow for the fire suppressing agents to enter the room quickly, yet slowly, resulting in the fire to be extinguished in the fastest manner possible.

In the fire suppression industry, these inert gases should enter the protected area within 60 seconds. They should do so at a quick, but steady rate, in order to prevent the occurrence of destructive turbulence within the room. Low quality and cheaply-built inert gas-using suppression systems can wreak havoc, as they tend to release the gases too quickly and in an unstable flow rate.

How Inert Gases Work As Fire Suppressors

Inert gas fire suppressors are characterized by their use of one or more of the most popular gases, including nitrogen, helium, and argon. In some cases, carbon dioxide can also be added into the blend. In a typical setting, these fire fighting systems are able to suppress fire through the reduction of the amount of oxygen in the specific area where the suppressors will be placed.

It is important that the oxygen levels in the room are reduced so that they will no longer be enough to support a fire. However, they should neither be completely eliminated, nor become too low to the point that there will no longer be enough to sustain life.

In a nutshell, inert gas fire suppression systems are designed to reduce the levels of oxygen to below 15 percent, so that the possibility of combustion is no longer existent. The best fire suppressants, in addition to ensuring that the oxygen level in the air is no more than 15 percent, make certain that enough of this particular gas remains present to support life. This means that they retain 12 percent of oxygen in the air inside the protected area.

Importance of Design in these Fire Suppression Systems

Volume and pressure venting are two of the most critical aspects that should be considered in terms of the design of fire suppression systems. It is imperative for the design of these inert gas fire suppressors to achieve the right blend and concentration, ensuring that the elimination of too high a level of oxygen does not happen.

It is also worthy to note that the venting process of inert gasses is just as important, since this will be result in the displacing of the air volume inside the room where the fire suppression system is installed in.