When it comes to fire protection in your facility, there can be so much information to wade through. One important fire protection system that many industrial facilities, data centers, and even hospitals should be familiar with is a special hazard fire protection system.

In this article, we’ll discuss what a special hazard fire protection system is, what types of facilities need them, and some of the agents and special hazard solutions your facility might employ.

What Are Special Hazard Fire Protection Systems?

A special hazard fire protection system is any fire protection system that is designed to protect a particularly sensitive or valuable asset, or that is used in an application where fire sprinklers are not appropriate.

When compared with a traditional fire sprinkler system, special hazard fire protection systems have a few specific differences:

  • They have better fire detection capabilities, and can actuate faster
  • They make use of suppression agents that are safe for people and that do little damage to the assets or products in a building.
  • They require trained, qualified personnel for system design, service, and repair.

When Do You Need a Special Hazard Fire Protection System?

While not every building or industry requires special hazard fire protection systems, there are a few instances when they are necessary. In general, you need a special hazard fire protection system when:

  • Your building or facility contains a valuable or sensitive asset. Data centers and art galleries are a great example of situations when a special hazard fire protection system might be required.
  • Your fire protection system needs to protect people. While fire sprinklers are okay for most residential buildings like apartment complexes, buildings like hospitals require special hazard fire protection to ensure that people are kept safe, especially when additional hazards, like oxygen tanks, are present.
  • Your facility has a higher risk of fire hazard. Some facilities and buildings, especially manufacturing and industrial facilities, carry a greater fire risk. In these situations, having a special hazard fire protection system in the building or within machines that can actuate and suppress fires quickly can prevent greater damage from occurring.

Special hazard fire systems actuate quickly, employ suppression agents that don’t damage materials and assets in your building, and work to prevent serious fires from happening in your facility.

Fire Suppression Agents Commonly Used in Special Hazard Systems

Special hazard systems are known for using fire suppression agents that mitigate damage to your facility and the assets in them. In general, most special hazard systems use clean agents to suppress fires without causing water damage or leaving behind a residue that can also damage sensitive equipment and assets.

Some of the fire suppression agents commonly used in special hazard fire protection systems include:

  • FM-200 A non-toxic gas that works to remove the heat element of a fire. FM-200 uses heat adsorption to suppress fires without leaving a residue.
  • 3M Novec 1230 — Often used for data center and other electronic facility fire protection, Novec 1230 is colorless and non-toxic, suppressing fires without disrupting sensitive electronic components.
  • Ansul INERGEN Another popular clean agent, Ansul INERGEN combines nitrogen, argon, and carbon dioxide to lower the oxygen content in a room. This disrupts the combustion process, while still leaving enough oxygen in the room for a person to breathe. As a result, INERGEN is one of the best special hazard fire suppression agents for applications where people are present.
  • CO2 — Carbon dioxide is another chemically inert gas that is particularly useful for safe fire suppression. Because it’s non-conductive, it’s also great for electronic applications. CO2 comes in both high and low pressure tanks to suit a variety of special hazards, but is best employed in unoccupied facilities.
  • Water Mist Systems — Water mist systems are also commonly used in special hazard fire protection, as they provide the same, safe-for-people fire suppression qualities while mitigating the level of water damage done to assets and objects within a building.

There are a number of fire suppression agents designed to support critical asset protection. Choosing the right agent will depend on your assets, your location, and your special hazard fire protection system, which is why it’s always best to consult with a special hazard fire protection expert before making a decision.

4 Specialized Detection & Control Features of Special Hazard Fire Protection Systems

While fire suppression agents are important, another key feature of many special hazard fire protection systems is advanced detection and control. For applications that require high-level fire suppression, it’s important to suppress fires as they start. The more quickly a fire is suppressed, the less damage that occurs. For that reason, many special hazard fire protection systems also employ fire prevention technologies that detect fires in early stages. A few of the detection components available for special hazard fire protection systems include:

  • Visual Flame Detectors — Explosion-proof visual flame detectors process live video images to sense the characteristic properties of flames. When a flame is detected, the special hazard fire protection system is automatically actuated.
  • Fire Detection Tubing — Fire detection tubing is typically installed in small enclosures where there is a high risk of fire, or where there are mission-critical assets, like in machine enclosures. When a fire is detected, the tubing can immediately suppress the fire with a clean suppression agent.
  • Air Sampling Smoke Detectors — Air sampling smoke detectors actively draw in and monitor air quality to sense smoke. Because they are drawing in air, rather than waiting for smoke to pass by their sensors, they are able to detect fires at their earliest stages, where they can be quickly suppressed before any serious damage occurs.
  • Digital Linear Heat Detection — Similar to fire detection tubing, linear heat detection can detect heat anywhere along the length of the system. When heat above normal operating temperatures is sensed, the system actuates to protect your building, your people, and your assets.

The Vanguard Fire & Security System is proud to supply industry-leading specialized fire detection systems, from the Micropack Visual Flame Detection system to Firetrace fire detection tubing, Protectowire linear heat detection, and the VESDA Air Sampling Smoke Detection system. View our page on specialized fire detection for more information.

Whether you’re looking for fire protection for a data center, a manufacturing facility, or a piece of heavy machinery, it’s important to know that special hazard solutions are available to keep your people and your products safe.

If you have more questions about special hazard fire protection systems, Vanguard Fire & Security Systems is your go-to resource. We design, install, service, and repair special hazard fire protection systems of every kind, and our experts would be more than happy to answer any questions you might have. For more information about what special hazard fire protection systems are and how they work, or for help servicing your system, get in touch with our team!

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