The LWF Blog
Facilities Management & Fire Safety – Gaseous Systems – Part 21August 17, 2017 4:10 pm
In this blog series for those who work in Facilities Management and who have an interest in or responsibility for fire safety, LWF has been looking at the different types of fixed fire-fighting systems. Such systems are placed in a building, or specific areas of a building, and might appear largely dormant (aside from appropriate maintenance and testing) until a fire is detected.
The most commonly used fixed fire-fighting system is probably a sprinkler system, which uses water in the area where the fire ignites to control and subdue the fire growth. There are other types of system which are effective at putting out fires in specific situations and one is the Gaseous System.
In part 21 of this series, we’re going to look at the practical applications of Gaseous Systems as a fire protection measure.
A gaseous fire extinguishing system is most commonly found in an area of a building where a water based extinguisher would be inappropriate. Some examples might be computer or server rooms, electrical plant equipment or even archive storage. There are various advantages to a gaseous system over a water-based system:
– The gaseous element leaves no residue or mess following discharge
– The agents used in the gas are non-conductive, so they are suitable for live electrics
– The elements carried in the gas are able to permeate hard to reach and enclosed areas
– When linked to an automatic detection system, the response time can be very quick
– Gaseous systems can be used on Class B and some Class A fires too
– Such systems can be controlled manually or automatically
There are no instances where a gaseous system is a requirement under current legislation in normal industrial, residential or commercial buildings, but in instances where one is required, the areas of the building covered by the gaseous system would not also require sprinkler heads, for example.
Insurance companies usually require fixed fire-fighting installations in buildings or areas of buildings where the contents are of a high value or a fire could result in serious financial losses. As mentioned previously in this series, this is most commonly seen in rooms containing essential computer equipment (for business continuity for example) and while sprinkler systems may suffice for most insurers, a gaseous system can be preferable as it provides better protection for the equipment and less business interruption if a fire does occur.
While the installation of a gaseous system may reduce insurance premiums through discussion, there is not, however, a formal scale of premium discounts for such systems.
In Part 22, we will take a look at the types of extinguishing agents which may be found in a gaseous system. In the meantime, if you have any queries about your own facilities or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact Peter Gyere in the first instance on 0208 668 8663.
Lawrence Webster Forrest is a fire engineering consultancy based in Surrey with over 25 years’ experience, which provides a wide range of consultancy services to professionals involved in the design, development and construction and operation of buildings.