Ruth Das - 17th Oct 2021

What are  fire suppression systems? 

Fire suppression system

Because of the numerous fire suppression options on the market, it’s often a challenge to determine which type of fire suppression system is ideal for your facility, its critical assets, and most importantly, its occupants. The following provides insight into today’s special hazard fire suppression systems, their benefits, and their recommended applications.

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What are the various types of fire suppression systems available today?

Today’s fire suppression systems offer various levels of protection not found with traditional water sprinkler systems. These special hazard fire protection options can be categorized as:.

Chemical Cleaning Agent

Chemical Cleaning Agent

Chemical clean agents protect irreplaceable assets, such as computers, servers, electronics, artwork, archives, and more, as they produce none of the damage often associated with traditional water sprinkler systems.

Inert Gases 

Inert gases used in sprinkler systems

Inter gases include nitrogen, argon, and CO2, or a combination of two or more, and reduce oxygen levels to a point where combustion cannot be sustained. These gaseous agents are safe for both people and the environment

CO2 System

C02 system used in sprinkler systems

CO2 sprinkler system provides a heavy blanket of gas that reduces the oxygen level to a point where combustion cannot occur. Because it’s unsafe for people, CO2 is only recommended for localized applications or areas generally inaccessible by employees or customers.

Water Mist System

Water Mist system used in sprinkler systems

Water mist systems improve upon the traditional water sprinkler system by producing ultra-fine water droplets and using 50 to 90 percent less water than a fire sprinkler, resulting in little to no collateral damage. Water mist systems may be connected to a building’s water supply for continuous fire-fighting capability, or in remote locations, may be connected to a tank or reservoir.

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Which factors are most important to your organization?

Each type of fire suppression solution has its inherent benefits. Which of the following are most important to your organization’s priorities?


Save some money

Cost-Effectiveness: With the recent introduction of low-pressure water mist systems, water mist has become a cost-effective method of fire suppression. 

Environmental Friendliness

Save the environment

Environmental Friendliness: About 30 years ago, Halon’s ozone-depleting potential led to its discontinuation as the go-to fire suppression system. Today, much greener options are available. Water-based systems and inert gas systems are the greenest options available since water and inert gas are naturally occurring substances that we extract from the environment and harness for use in fire suppression. 

Design Flexibility

Design Flexibility

Design Flexibility: Inert gas systems provide the most flexible design options for two primary reasons. These gases are stored at pressures exceeding 4,000 psi, compared to chemical agents that are stored from 360-725 psi; and they are stored as a gas, compared to chemical agents that are stored as a liquid and suffer greater friction losses as they flow through a pipe network. Both of these factors equate to inert gases possessing more energy than chemical agents upon discharge. More energy means inert gas can flow longer distances through smaller diameter pipes. This allows for the ability to protect multiple floors and multiple buildings with one bank of cylinders. Furthermore, gaseous agent systems offer three-dimensional protection not found in water sprinkler systems. This means that inert gas can permeate every cubic foot of a protected space. Water droplets from a fire sprinkler do not have this three-dimensional property and are less apt to reach a fire that is shielded by an object in the protected space.


Clean up

Downtime/Cleanup: Special hazard fire suppression systems all share one primary advantage over traditional water sprinkler systems: minimal clean-up and downtime. Traditional water sprinklers can produce as much damage to a building or its critical assets as a fire itself. For example, if a small wire ignited in a historical site or a data center, it’s likely the entirety of the room would be doused with water to suppress a small fire. This could cause irreparable damage and result in days or even weeks of cleanup. Conversely, a chemical clean agent or inert gas would suppress the fire quickly with very little business lost as a result of downtime.

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Which fire suppression systems are most effective for my application?

The most important step in your decision-making process is to find a solution that works best for your application:

Commercial Application

Commercial Application of fire suppression system

Includes hospitality, healthcare, schools, libraries, and office buildings; places where people live, work and do business. These spaces often have multiple functions, each with its own unique fire suppression needs and priorities. For example, a health care facility may use water mist to protect rooms, common areas, and backup generators, and a chemical agent for server rooms, and electronic medical equipment like MRIs. 

Industrial Applications

Industrial Application of fire suppression system

Includes factories and machine shops; where things are made. Water mist and CO2 are most commonly used because of their cost-effectiveness and the types of hazards most commonly found in these environments. For example, water mist is most effective at suppressing Class B, liquid-based fire hazards associated with lube skids, turbine shafts, and diesel generators. C02 is recommended for localized applications on specific machines or segments of an assembly line.

Irreplaceable Asset Applications

Used for server room

Includes data centers, telecommunications facilities, museums, and historical sites; where critical assets are contained. For the greatest protection and preservation of irreplaceable assets, such as server-backed user information or historical artifacts, gaseous agents (chemical or inert) are ideal.

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