Automatic fire suppression systems are an excellent tool for suppressing fires within heavy machinery. Most heavy machinery comes at a considerable investment to your facility, and the equipment used in most manufacturing, machining, and industrial applications has a high potential for flammability, thanks to hot moving internal components and flammable substances like oil and gas. Automatic fire suppression systems provide the necessary assurance for heavy machinery like this.

Actuating without human intervention, these systems are able to sense and suppress fires the minute they occur, putting flames out at their source. Because automatic fire suppression systems are one of the most effective ways to keep your heavy machinery safe, here’s what you need to know about how they work, and a few of the most common heavy machinery applications for automatic fire suppression systems.

Understanding Automatic Fire Suppression Systems

There are many options for fire suppression systems, from common water and mist sprinkler systems to more advanced protection options like clean agent, dry chemical, and gaseous agent fire suppression systems. Any system can be an automatic fire suppression system, so long as the system:

  • Can react to a fire situation without human intervention
  • Contains a:
    • Detection element (typically pneumatic tubing or a smoke detector)
    • Suppression agent cylinder

Many automatic fire suppression systems also contain a pressure switch and/or a manual release, for added levels of fire protection. Pressure switches function to shut down any machines in the event that a fire is detected. Manual releases are typically included for applications that require a certain level of redundancy. They allow a human operator to release the fire suppression agent into the enclosure.

Most generally, an automatic fire suppression system is any fire suppression system that can be actuated without human intervention. Beneficial for a variety of applications, automatic fire suppression systems are often able to start suppressing fires before a human operator could even detect signs of a problem. One application where automatic fire suppression systems prove particularly useful is in protecting heavy machinery:

Protecting Heavy Machinery with Automatic Fire Suppression Systems

Heavy and technical machinery is expensive and useful, but it can also be hazardous. Most heavy machinery features a number of moving parts, along with substances like oil and gas that are highly flammable. Protecting heavy machinery is important, both in keeping personnel working around that machinery safe and in protecting your investment in that heavy machinery.

There are a number of heavy machinery applications that can benefit from automatic fire suppression systems, from large construction vehicles to large communication centers. Here are three specific applications where automatic fire suppression systems are particularly important, and how the Vanguard team works to protect these applications.

CNC and EDM Machining Center Protection

CNC and EDM machines are integral to the operation of a variety of companies. In the United States alone, machine shops experience five to ten fires a week, on average. This means that fire protection and suppression is paramount. Both CNC and EDM machines have a high potential for internal fires. For example, EDM machine fires frequently happen when oil levels drop, and coolant oil and oil vapor burst into flame. Similarly, the oil mist commonly found in CNC machines is highly flammable, and even a small spark can be fed by the machine’s oil reserves.

When fires do occur, opening either an EDM or CNC machine to apply a fire extinguisher to the source flame introduces oxygen to the fire, allowing it to grow larger and more dangerous — potentially growing to reach additional machines and causing significant danger for your staff. If no one is around the machines, a fire could start and grow significantly before anyone has a chance to attempt to put it out.

Internal automatic fire suppression systems are an ideal solution, stopping any fire at its source, and keeping both your machinery and your employees safe.

FIRETRACE Systems Protecting CNC and EDM Machining Centers

Vanguard is a proud supplier of pre-engineered automatic fire suppression systems, and we often work with clients in CNC and EDM machining. For these applications, we often recommend FIRETRACE.

How Do FIRETRACE Automatic Fire Suppression Systems Work?

A unique, flexible, pressurized detection tubing, Firetrace is easily routed inside of machines, where it is designed to burst in the event of a fire.

As the Firetrace tubing bursts, it releases pressure on the cylinder that holds the suppression agent. The fire suppression agent is then released from the cylinder into the machine’s enclosure. If the system includes a pressure switch, that will shut down any machines or pumps as the agent is discharged, as well.

What Type of Agent Is Used in FIRETRACE Automatic Fire Suppression Systems?

In the application of CNC and EDM machining centers, a clean agent is often the preferred agent. Because these agents do not leave behind a residue, they don’t affect the working internal parts of heavy machinery, reducing the damage done to your machines as a whole. That said, Firetrace systems can be designed to release nearly any chemical or gaseous fire suppression agent, ensuring they are a versatile solution for other heavy machinery protection applications.


For large, industrial applications, e-houses are a convenient, affordable, and durable option for housing important electrical components like relay and control panels, motor control centers, variable frequency drives, and other large mechanical and electrical equipment. These e-houses, or enclosure systems, often provide protection for a facility’s most important components.

Though there are a wide range of applications for any e-house, the basic function of an e-house makes an automatic fire suppression system essential. Housing components and equipment, often electrical, that are integral to the day-to-day operations of many industrial facilities, these e-houses need to be protected in the event of a fire.

E-House Automatic Fire Suppression Systems

Because many e-houses are custom-designed to suit a specific facility or industry, they often require custom fire suppression systems as well. Automatic fire suppression systems are a must here, just given the importance of the equipment installed within an e-house. That, combined with the fact that many components are electrical and prone to fire, means an automatic fire suppression system is essential.

The type of fire suppression system, however, will vary depending on the e-houses specific components. In the case of e-houses, custom fire suppression systems are often necessary, as different types of machinery and electrical equipment require different solutions.

Vanguard works to develop and install custom automatic fire suppression systems for e-houses, and we’ve found that solutions can vary from unique fire extinguishers to clean agent suppression systems. No matter what your application, however, a quality automatic fire suppression system is a must for protecting your e-house and the integral electric components and machinery within.

Have more questions about automatic fire suppression systems? Interested in protecting your heavy machinery with an automatic fire suppression system? Get in touch. The experts at Vanguard can install and maintain an automatic fire suppression system that works to keep your machinery safe for your company and your employees.

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