Fire suppression systems are the systems used to contain or extinguish fire in a building, typically used in rooms with valuable or critical equipment. When heat or smoke is detected, the system is immediately activated, and an extinguishing agent is released. A dry chemical or wet agent (or a combination of the two) fills the room and will protect the area from further damage.
Although they may look similar, fire suppression systems are different from automatic sprinkler systems. Fire sprinklers will typically meet requirements for everyday fire protection in the workplace, but there are instances where suppression systems are the only option. The main application for suppression systems is to not only extinguish flames, but to protect what is important to the organization. Fire suppressions systems are utilized when the water from sprinklers can cause irreparable damage to the equipment or area.
Some examples of fire suppression systems and their corresponding NFPA standards include:
- Carbon Dioxide: Does not leave a residue and require no additional clean up. Typically used in offices archival rooms, computer rooms, and more. Refer to NDPA 12, Standard on Carbon Dioxide Extinguishing Systems.
- Wet Chemical Fire Suppression: When released, forms a type of vapor suppression foam that will prevent re-ignition; mostly used for kitchen applications. Consult NFPA 17A, Standard for Wet Chemical Extinguishing Systems.
- Dry Chemical Suppression: Used in mechanical rooms, furnace rooms, flammable liquid storage areas, this kind of system works quickly to put out flames caused by combustible or flammable liquids. Additional information can be found in NFPA 17, Standard for Dry Chemical Extinguishing Systems.
Fire extinguishing systems are engineered to detect fires, alert works, and extinguish fires, all in a very short amount of time. Systems can be complicated, but typical elements and components include discharge nozzles, piping, a control panel, warning alarms, hazard signs, detection devices, storage containers, and manual discharge stations.