Sustainability and environmentally responsible fire suppression systems are two big topics in the fire protection industry today. Fire suppression systems provide safety and protection to your facility and your employees, but they haven’t always historically been the best for the environment. Some fire suppression agents do an exceptional job of suppressing and extinguishing fires but can pose threats to the health of the environment.

If your company is working to improve your environmental sustainability, you might be interested to know that there are a number of environmentally responsible fire suppression options on the market today. Here are a few of the most popular and effective environmentally friendly solutions in fire suppression today:

Fluorine-Free Foams (F3)

Fluorine-free foams, often abbreviated as F3, are an environmentally responsible alternative to the more common aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF).

While AFFF is an effective fire-fighting solution that works to suppress flammable liquid vapors, it contains per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS. PFAS have been linked by the EPA and other environmental research leaders to adverse human health effects. They are negatively persistent, which means they can move through drinking water, soil, and even concrete. Not only do they contaminate the environment, but they can bio-accumulate in humans and other animals. Though research is still being conducted, this persistent quality of PFAS is what makes it so concerning.

F3, on the other hand, does not contain PFAS. It won’t persist in the environment, and will ultimately biodegrade. F3 possesses many of the same performance capabilities of AFFF which means that in many instances, it is an environmentally responsible alternative.

Clean Agents

There are a multitude of fire suppression and extinguishing agents on the market. All of them are effective for a variety of different fire hazards, but they’re not all environmentally responsible. That’s where clean agents come in.

A clean agent is a fire extinguishing agent that is non-conductive, non-corrosive, and does not leave a residue upon evaporation. Some of the more popular clean agents include INERGEN, FM-200, and NOVEC 1230, which are able to suppress and extinguish fires without causing damage to assets, and while keeping people safe.

In general, clean agents work to lower the oxygen content below the level that supports combustion, while still allowing people to breathe in the reduced-oxygen atmosphere. After they are released, clean agents dissipate into the environment.

Since clean agents are typically made from naturally occurring gases like nitrogen, argon, and carbon dioxide, or non-toxic agents that have a short atmospheric lifetime and zero ozone depletion potential, these agents are environmentally friendly. They do not release harmful substances into the environment, they’re easy to clean up, and they are safe for populated areas.

Efficient Use of Water

Another great way to implement an environmentally responsible fire suppression system is to consider using water more efficiently. For example, water mist fire suppression systems are a great alternative to fire sprinkler systems that can actually be more effective in some applications.

Water mist suppression systems use high pressure to disperse small water droplets that control, suppress, or extinguish fires, offering you an environmentally responsible fire suppression option that conserves water, is not harmful or toxic to the environment and features immediate activation and high efficiency in fire suppression.

Since these systems are using water, they’re easy to clean up, they don’t present any health issues for people, and are safe to use in most machine applications as well. For an environmentally responsible fire suppression system that isn’t hazardous and is safe to use around people, water mist suppression systems are a great option.

Aspiration Detectors

Some industries have to make use of specific fire suppression agents to effectively protect products and people. In these situations, it can be difficult to find an environmentally-responsible suppression system. Luckily, you can still take measures to minimize your system’s impact on the world around you. One great way to do that is to invest in an aspiration detection system.

The best way to minimize a fire suppression agent’s impact on the environment is to avoid actuation in the first place. Aspiration detectors help accomplish this goal by providing a highly sensitive detection system that can help to stop fires before they even start.

Aspiration detectors draw air into a detection chamber. There, they can analyze the air for any smoke faster than waiting for the smoke to rise up to the detector on its own. Since these systems can detect smoke before a fire occurs, they can alert personnel in the pre-alert stage. The personnel may then be able to shut the system down or take steps to mitigate the problem before the actuation of the fire suppression system is needed.

Aspiration detectors are a great solution for any industry because they offer yet another level of detection that helps prevent fires and hazards in the first place. They’re an essential part of a truly environmentally responsible fire suppression system because they can help prevent the discharge of suppression agents that could be more harmful to the environment.

Vanguard believes that fire protection means protecting everything — your building, your assets, your employees, and the environment too. We supply a variety of clean, and environmentally sustainable fire suppression options, and we’d be happy to help you find a solution that helps your company become more sustainable. If you’re interested in learning about clean and environmentally responsible fire suppression systems, give us a call at 800-444-8719 or contact us online today.

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