Almost everything we do relies on technology. From how we communicate to how we are entertained and find answers to problems, technology plays an integral part. And behind the scenes, powering our ability to connect the devices in our hands and the computers on our desks with the world, is a complex network of control panels, data cabinets, switches and servers, that all rely on electricity. And if these fail, the consequences can be devastating, especially if the cause of the downtime is fire.
Electrical fires are incredibly challenging to predict and once started, if left to burn undetected, their effects can destroy equipment beyond repair and spread quickly to nearby equipment or structures. Outdated infrastructure, faulty wires, poor maintenance and overloaded circuits are all risk factors for fire. And if fire strikes, it can bring a business crashing down, with operations coming to a standstill and a loss of sales being very real scenarios. And if down-time extends into days or even weeks, the interruption can prove seriously costly and have a major impact on a businesses’ bottom line. The damage to a businesses’ brand can be so severe, that it simply never recovers.
Reacton Fire Suppression’s electrical equipment systems are designed for use in small enclosures to protect people, assets and critical infrastructure from the devastating impact of fire. The systems are engineered and tested to safeguard enclosures that have air vents or forced ventilation, which are both significant factors and commonplace in energised enclosures.
What is direct fire suppression
The critical concept is detecting and suppressing the fire right where it originates. Due to the nature of the contents being valuable and dangerous, the majority of energised equipment is exceptionally well enclosed. This means that traditional fire detection and protection systems will be mounted externally to the cabinet, delaying the detection of the fire and impeding the fire protection medium from getting to the heart of the fire quickly. It’s here that a Direct fire suppression system will offer exceptional protection.
Not only will the system offer the protection directly where the fire originates, but they are also compact and sized for the electrical enclosure or cabinet they protect. This will result in a significantly reduced cost of ownership as only a few kilograms of Clean Agent are being used and therefore need replacing in any fire conditions. Compared to that of a large total flood application where the system sizes are much higher, so every discharge will come with a bigger price tag to replace or refill, not to mention the logistics and downtime.
Direct systems comprise two key areas: the Direct cylinder assembly, which contains the Clean Agent extinguishing medium, and the pneumatic heat detection tube (Reacton® Detection Tube) which provides the detection and delivery of the system.
The Direct cylinder assembly will contain either 3M™ Novec™ 1230 Fire Protection Fluid or FM-200™ Fire Suppressant which are effective on Class A, B, C and electrical fires. All cylinder assemblies are superpressurised with dry nitrogen at 15.0bar @ 20°C (217.5psig @ 68°F) in approved cylinders.
All cylinder assemblies comprise of the Direct valve. The valve comes complete with pressure indication via its pressure gauge and an integrated ball valve to control the communication with the detection tube.
Automatic detection is controlled through the use of the Reacton® Detection Tube. The tube is pressurised with dry nitrogen at 15.0bar @ 20°C (217.5psig @ 68°F). It is the detection tube that provides the detection and delivery of the extinguishing medium.
The Reacton® Direct system utilises the CT Direct™ valve technology and tubing to automatically detect the fire and actuate the system. The pressurised tubing is installed in and around the fire risks within the protected areas, always in communication with the system contents. When a fire occurs, the tubing will burst at the point of highest heat. As the contents of the systems are directly in communication with the detection tube, immediate discharge of the extinguishing agent is started at the point of detection.
This means that fully automatic fire suppression is ready 24/7 365, day and night, keeping watch over the asset(s) it is protecting. With no power requirements, when the system detects fire it automatically activates, rapidly discharging the suppression agent inside the cylinder to the seat of the fire, knocking it down before it has an opportunity to take hold.
Reacton’s Clean Agent range consists of 3M™ Novec™ 1230 Fire Protection Fluid and FM-200™ waterless fire suppressant from Chemours™. These Clean Agents are the most trusted and tested liquefiable gases on the market with all supply being solely through the biggest names in the industry when it comes to Clean Agents.
Reacton’s Clean Agent extinguishing mediums all have the following approvals:
- Underwriters Laboratories (UL)
- Underwriters Laboratories of Canada (ULC)
- Factory Mutual (FM)
- Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) listed through the United States Environment Protection Agency (U.S. EPA)
All products are recognised and listed in standards such as ISO 14520 & NFPA 2001.
These Clean Agents are the leading choice for fire suppression when rapid protection and zero clean-up is essential for sensitive electrical equipment. All systems are stored as a liquid and discharged as a gaseous vapour. They work at a molecular level by removing the thermal energy of a fire to an extent where the combustion reaction cannot sustain itself.
Reacton’s Clean Agents are electrically nonconductive, noncorrosive and leave no residue, meaning that the most delicate and sensitive equipment can be protected safely and effectively. The Reacton system can be scaled for use with a wide range of applications ranging from a single electrical panel right through to wind turbines.
Reacton’s research and development team lead the way with state of the art in-house testing and simulation. Whilst this provides vital product knowledge and confidence in our system and components, we understand that it is very important to have all our outstanding innovation, performance and exceptional quality verified. The best way to do this is by third party approvals and certifications, where we meet or exceed the international standards, performing at the highest levels in a controlled environment. This gives our customers the same confidence we always had.
We also work with some of the fire industries most active and influential bodies. This provides us with a platform to raise the level of safety within the industry by allowing experts to formulate best practises and clear guidance that genuinely helps to improve the safety of people and assets across the world.
What is LPCB
The LPS 1666 standard developed by LPCB / BRE in the UK is the world’s first third-party fire test standard for small enclosure fire suppression systems and provides a much more appropriate performance assessment for such applications.
The Building Research Establishment (BRE) has a certification arm called BRE Global. This is an independent, third-party certification body responsible for certification schemes, the Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB) certification is specifically for fire and security products and services. The standards within this scheme are called Loss Prevention Standards (LPS); this is where we find the LPS 1666 which sets out the requirements and test procedures for the LPCB approval of the direct low pressure (DLP) application fixed fire suppression systems.
The LPCB approval process involves assessment and testing of the products through fire test scenarios and component examinations. Full factory production control, training assessment and site audits ensure that not only the product performs, but the manufacturer can consistently produce quality items that are installed correctly.
The main requirements and limits of the LPS 1666 standard are:
- A single container heat detection tube installation protecting a maximum single volume of 2m3.
- Up to 4 heat detection tube runs connected to a single container where no single protected volume exceeds a 2m3 volume.
- A maximum heat detection tube length of 10m from the container outlet to the end of any single detection tube run.
The testing of the system is broken down into different categories allowing for a thorough review of the system and its performance.
Fire Extinguishing Tests:
- Detection Tube Activation Height
- Agent Extinguishing Tests
- Cabinet Perimeter Protection.
System Discharge Tests:
- Minimum Flow Conditions Test
- Maximum Flow Conditions Test
Component Examination and Tests:
- Pressure Strength
An extremely practical and unique feature of the LPS 1666 standard is the testing and performance capabilities for openings and forced ventilation. This allows manufacturers to advise guidelines on the sizes of openings and ventilation rates within the protected risk.
Reacton advise the following steps in their hazard analysis to arrive at a robust real-life system.
- Determine Fire Classification
- Determine Hazard Compartments
- Determine Dimensions
- Determine Openings
- Determine Forced Ventilation
As market education continues, this standard is increasing in recognition and is now the benchmark standard for small space protection. Having a LPCB approved system installed provides full confidence that the system will deliver the performance when required.
Reacton’s automatic fire suppression systems can be seamlessly integrated into control panels, data cabinets, switches and servers, that all rely on electricity. These systems use 3MTM NovecTM 1230 Fire Protection Fluid and FM-200TM Clean Agents to provide the best possible protection for energised enclosures.