For fire extinguishing systems, clean agents are electrically non-conductive, leave no residue, and are safe to use in occupied spaces. These total flooding gaseous systems work quickly and are very effective while keeping equipment and personnel safer, that's why they are used in environments that include challenges like sensitive electronics, shielded combustables, raised floor systems, or other locations with a low tolerance for fires. In this video, fire protection expert Lee Kaiser explains the features and applications of clean agent fire extinguishing systems.
Lee: "We're going to talk about our last suppression system here by talking about clean agents, and then we're going to transition to the detection demonstrations. So let's talk about clean agents. Now, clean agents are for extinguishment. So extinguishment is the performance expectation without water. Most systems are gaseous. Well, all systems are gaseous and they're total flooding, work quickly, very effective, great success rate with discharge of systems on fires, safer equipment and personnel. One thing about clean agents are they're electrically non-conductive, so we use them whenever electronics are one of the things we're protecting inside of the room. They leave no residue. That's the clean piece of clean agents, and human exposure is limited to 5 minutes. The code writes that in there. This is a myth that clean agent systems suck all the oxygen out of the air. That's not true. Most systems just cool the room. The inert gas systems do lower the oxygen in the room, but nothing can be included in the listing of a clean agent system, if it's unsafe for occupied spaces, but code says because of possible products of combustion in the air you should exit the space within 5 minutes.
Benefits of Clean Agents
Benefits: early activation while fire is small. Clean agent systems are intended to work on fairly small fires because we activate them via detection, smoke detection, usually, so smoke before the fire gets really big and we could activate off of heat, or something like that. Gaseous agents or penetrates into shielded spaces and into components, extinguishes fires and minimizes damage with a no-clean-up and fast restoration of service, so that's what clean agents do.
Clean Agent System in Action
Let's watch this little video of a system discharge, okay. This is a 3M NOVEC 1230 system being discharged for one reason or another. We don't normally do discharge tests of systems. We have other ways to test them and make sure that they're functional, but this is an actual discharge test that was recorded a number of years ago, so we'll hear some beeps. They'll be some faint beeps. That's the pre‑discharge warning before the system releases, and then we'll see gas come out of the nozzles at the ceiling. There's a little bit of fogging because of the immediate cooling of the space, and so vision will be obstructed, you'll hear the discharge of the gas and after that you'll see some guys come out around the corner and you'll see what they're doing, so let's play the video. We see that, see the discharge. It's a wild hiss. Systems are loud when they discharge, clean agent systems, and then after the 10 second discharge period of NOVEC system you can see that the room's turbulent, so this piece of paper flipped up here, and then these guys back here with their fingers in the ears, okay, so loud system. That's kind of what experiencing a clean agent discharge is like.
Applications of Clean Agents
So where do we use clean agents. Places where we have one of these factors. Usually two or more of these factors and we should consider clean agents as an option, sensitive electronics, power distribution, shielded combustibles or electrical cabinets, raised floor systems, higher flows, critical operations and low tolerance for fires. Those are places where clean agents typically are a good fit."