CO2 Fire Prevention Safety: Life Safety CO2 Compliance

Posted by ORR Protection on Dec 18, 2020 10:10:00 AM

During the MCFP Virtual Conference series, Rick Reynolds, Vice President of Engineering and Training at ORR Protection Systems, talks about the impacts of NFPA-12 changes. Part 4 of 4.

CO2 Fire Suppression Safety

Video Transcript:

All total flood applications, all local applications are required to have that. That could migrate CO2 into those spaces. So a very, very, useful tool right here, for personnel and the reasoning again, why a pneumatic siren? I've had this question numerous times, Rick, you know, why do I need a pneumatic siren? I've got audibles. Well, you do. But if that audible circuit is shorted out or ground fault on the system, or something like that, then if somebody pneumatically fires the tank or that bottle, because the pneumatics on that system and they, you can manually discharge that. And that panel is down for some reason, whatever the reason may be, and that panel is down, and it's out of service. And you actually discharged that, then there's a possibility CO2 can discharge in that space without any audibles at all.

That's why that pneumatic siren becomes so important. So having that in place is very, very useful safety items. So here's that pneumatic setup that I was talking about. This is an example of a terminal enclosure panel. There are thousands and thousands of these out there, you know, GE had this custom made, this is a custom made kit. As you see here, the pneumatic time delay bottles are in the bottom, right? The pneumatic levers in the bottom, on the far right in the middle, those are emergency manual releases. So if you needed to operate those, you would turn the handle from the left to the right or from the right to the left, according to the pitcher. And then the pilot pressure switch is just some supervisory lines of the nomadic siren lines up at the top left that kind of shows you where the actual CO2 sirens would be hooked up to from the controller panel out to the field discharge pressure switch.

We kind of reviewed that a little bit of where it's located and then the discharge, I'm at the emergency bypass switch. So in the event that you would have a need where you would say, Hey, I'm going to manually discharge my system because I need to have CO2. I've seen the fire, I've confirmed the fire, and I need CO2 right now. And I don't want to wait on this 30 seconds pneumatic time bottle to fill up before I can have CO2, I've already evacuated the space. I know nobody's in there, there's a handle that would actually give you emergency CO2 in order to suppress the fire immediately. So there is an emergency bypass if you will. So there are a couple bypass features on this to give you emergency CO2, but of course those are manually overrides and you're taking a lot of responsibility when you hit those.

So just be very cautious knowing that they're there, but also cautious that you're taking that upon yourself when you actually trigger those. So just be cautious when you're thinking through those, the code, when it starts talking about prohibitive entry, this is where it gets very, very, there's some, there's some, flexibility, I'll just say. So you must make provisions for prohibitive entry and a odorizer. There's a term in the industry for CO2 called an odorizer, and that's a distinctive oil of wintergreen. You know, when you smell natural gas, there's this distinct smell for natural gas, even though natural gas is odorless, they actually inject a scent into natural gas. So we can all smell it just in case we have a leak at the home or a leak at a industrial plant or a power plant, we'd be able to smell it.

Not all power plants use that same. They may be on the main line and not actually have the odor of the natural gas in there. But in saying that though CO2 being odorless, we have to be very careful that we may walk into a hazard that is CO2. So the code kind of gives a little bit of tolerance where you wouldn't have to put oil of wintergreen or an odorizer on a system, as long as you can confirm that the space does not have greater than 4% CO2 by volume. Now, the only way you can do that is by manual meters, that meter that's on the bottom, right, is a manufacturer that all of our technicians are. All of our recommended is most, you know, if you're going to be working inside of a area that has a CO2 system, having a little portable meter like that, you know, I wear one myself when I go out to a plant, and we have a CO2 system.

I wear that particular meter right there, that's a four-channel meter. It's an oxygen; it's a parts-per-million meter on some other channels of other gases. But the main thing is it's oxygen. So if we have a CO2 leak in an area, or if we had a discharge, I would know how far away the CO2 is migrated to know where oxygen deprivation could be. So we all wear these meters, every one of our associates on the team. So that way, you know, that you're at or greater above 4% parts per million, 4% CO2 concentration, not parts per million CO2 concentration by volume. So it's important that you're able to do that. If you cannot meter that then the code says that you have to do an oil of wintergreen. So that's kind of the trade-off as the code has given us a little bit of more tolerance.

They said, if you can't do the metering, then you've got to do the actual oil of wintergreen. If you don't do the oil of wintergreen, then make sure you have some type of metering. So that's kind of the, the other side, are the trade-offs associated with that. So kind of both sides. So let's do a little review and let's kind of cover where we've been and where what, what is actually a code compliance, if you will, of life safety compliance for NFPA and what are the enhancements that are needed on a CO2 system? So real quick, lockout valves. I mean, I think that was an easy fix. If you will lock out vows that are monitored, keeping those monitored is very, very important. So monitored lockout valve is important, pneumatic siren, you know, having that pneumatic siren and that's a safety, that's an awesome safety feature.

If the panel is down and your electronic circuit, maybe water got in the circuit and shorted it out and you still was operating. And all of a sudden you needed to have the panel going to alarm to discharge CO2, and the discharge circuit still works, but my audibles don't work or that audible got wet and it's corroded or whatever the case is, you know, that pneumatic siren is a good safety measure because it's going to operate just about in any condition. So odorizers, we just talked about those sometimes, or it depends if you, if you want an odorizer because of CO2 migration, if you've got a space that's above, and you got another spaces down below, CO2 is twice as heavier than air. So that may be a good time to actually install a notarized, or if you've got spaces that you're protecting that are above another space down below and CO2 can migrate.

Because like I said, it's twice as heavy in the air, it's going to accumulate at the lower levels. So be very cautious of that. So notarize her, we talked about that system pressure, discharge pressure switches. We know that those are required on the discharge outlets of, or when the discharge line, whenever it goes into discharge mode, as the CO2 discharges, it actually trips it back at the panel to shut down the actual system, uh, to enunciate the actual panel that we've had a pneumatic firing of the system. And so that way it can turn on the audibles or it can actually stop the process or shut dampers or something like that, pneumatic time delays. That's the pneumatic bottles that fill up with CO2 prior to actually activating the actual CO2 valves. So kind of a part that's actually working side by side with the pneumatic siren and the pneumatic time delay.

It takes both of those features in order for those to work together. And then of course, safety signs. I can't stress safety signs enough. And I said, I was going to talk a little bit more about safety signs. So I've got a couple of them here that I wanted to highlight. So this is one of them right here, and it may be reversed, but I can read it out to you. So it says warning again, one man long kind of shows right there, but, um, caution carbon dioxide gas can cause injury or death actuation of this device causes carbon dioxide to discharge before accelerating be sure personnel is clear of the area. So this sign is actually required now at every pull station. And think about that. So if we've got a pull station that is out near or away from the hazard and you were going to pull that pull station, alright.

And as soon as we got ready to pull that pull station, it's kind of a reminder to let us know before you pull the pull station, make sure that you think through the process, is there anybody in that space before I pull it? Because once I pull that this carbon dioxide before actuating, be sure personnel are clear of the area. So it's a good safety measure just to think about before you pull the pull station. So at every pull station, this sign would be required. So I've got another sign. Here is CO2 gas can cause injury or death when alarm operates do not enter and until ventilating. So this is actually at the doors. So this sign here is kind of required at the doors. So every door going into the space is required to have one of these. And I'm not going to go through all of the signage, but this is another one.

This one here is kind of critical because this one here says CO2 or carbon dioxide gas, discharges into nearby spaces can collect here. This is what I was talking about. If you had an upper level that was protected and a lower level, that was not protected well, it's twice as heavier than air, right? So there's a good possibility that it may migrate down to the lower level and CO2 migration that's that would be rescuer where CO2 went to that lower level and it accumulated down there have a higher concentration. And you just didn't know, it's a visible agent. You went down there and you went down into the check on something and CO2 was a high concentration down there. You got down there, you stayed down there for a minute. It was above 8%. You passed out. Next thing you know, the next guy looked down there and he seen you there. He went down to get you in there. Again, we have to, we have two, um, problems that actually existed there. So this is a caution, um, CO2 can actually migrate to low lying areas or to other areas. This is the cheap sign, inexpensive security as a reminder. So these signs, like I said, if you, these upgrades

CO2 signage is the first step that I think you can do very inexpensive. So reach out to us, let us help you with that. Cause I think we can do that fairly quick and fairly, um, fairly easy for you. So again, or protection systems, power generation team, we've been doing CO2 systems for years and years and years. Uh, I've been here 30 years and CO2 has always been in our wheelhouse. It's always been in what we've done and what we do. Um, I'll look forward to your questions. I'll look forward to, if you want to have a lunch and learn at your site, um, we sponsor these all the time at plants, or if you want a training class or a highlighted training class at your plant, please reach out to our team. If you're an engineering firm or an authority, having jurisdiction, you guys want a lunch and learn at your, at your site-specific, um, customized to your plant or customized to your location.

Please reach out to us. We'd be honored to do that. I mean, that's what we do. So, and we do these all over the country, and we've even stepped outside into other parts of the extended area of the world. So if there's some areas in the Caribbean or, uh, outside of that area, we, we, we actually work in those areas as well, very well. So again, or protection systems where we specialize in this area of CO2, uh, we've got years and years of experience in this. We'd love to partner with you. I look forward to your questions.

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