What’s the story with environmentally friendly fire suppression solutions?

By Garry Kwok, National Technical Services Manager at Wormald

InergenWhile there are many things to consider when selecting a fire protection system, environmental considerations have historically taken a back seat.

However, with the growing focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and ozone depleting substances, we are seeing a growing interest in environmentally friendly fire suppression solutions.

The Australian Government introduced legislation with the objective of reducing the amount of ozone depleting substances (ODS) and synthetic greenhouse gases (SGG) emitted into the atmosphere. Under the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Regulations 1995 it is an offence to handle ozone depleting substances and synthetic greenhouse gas fire extinguishing agents without an appropriate license.  The regulations also deem it an offence to trade in these agents or to have the environmentally damaging agent, Halon, without the appropriate permits and approvals.

As part of the Australian Government’s Clean Energy Future Plan, the equivalent carbon price for synthetic greenhouse gases commenced on 1 July 2012.  The introduction of the equivalent carbon price encourages the industry to change its practices to reduce emissions of synthetic greenhouse gases, to use alternative gases and to improve the recycling rates of these gases.

To guide the fire protection industry in the application of this legislation, the Fire Protection Industry (ODS & SGG) Board introduced a Code of Practice for the reduction of emissions of ODS & SGG fire extinguishing agents. This Code of Practice applies to all fire system practitioners who handle the extinguishing agents, the fire companies that trade in them and the facility owners and managers who have installed systems containing these agents. ODS & SGG agents include FM200®, Halon 1211 and Halon 1301, NAF-S-III and NAF-P-III and FE13, FE25 and FE36.

The Fire Protection Industry (ODS & SGG) Board has taken much-needed measures to limit the use of these harmful agents. However, our teams find that many businesses still do not understand the implications of using such agents compared to more environmentally friendly alternative agents as part of their fire suppression systems.

Consulting a fire engineer or fire specialist will ensure an effective and tailored fire protection solution is designed for any building.  It can also help identify ways to make your fire suppression system as environmentally friendly as possible.

There are fire suppression systems available which contain agents that are more environmentally friendly than common ODS and SGG agents and therefore do not contribute to ozone depletion and global warming.

Wormald offers the Inergen® gaseous suppression system which uses a patented composition of nitrogen, argon and carbon dioxide. This combination allows the system to smother a fire by diluting the oxygen concentration from the usual 21% to around 12.5% – a level at which most ordinary combustibles won’t burn. With no Ozone Depletion Potential, no Global Warming Properties and Zero Atmospheric Lifetime, Inergen is most suitable for businesses looking to reduce their carbon footprint.

SAPPHIRE® is classed as a third generation chemical agent and is a sustainable chemical agent suitable for occupied spaces. The SAPPHIRE suppressant is stored in liquid form and is designed to instantly vaporise at the discharge nozzle when released, flooding the protected space and suppressing the fire. While SAPPHIRE looks like water, it does not cause the type of damage usually associated with water, as it contains no moisture.

Environmentally friendly systems such as Inergen and SAPPHIRE are particularly suitable for data centres or facilities where electrical equipment is kept as they are dry, electrically non-conductive and leave behind no residue to clean up.

If you’re looking for an environmentally friendly fire suppression solution, there are many options available. You can find out more about Wormald’s gaseous fire suppression systems here.

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