• November 30, 2021

    Fire can be a devastating element that can destroy a business, especially when it is out of control. From damage to a physical site, employees and visitors can come into harm, as well as stock and equipment be damaged. Fire spreads fast and therefore it is important that key systems are put in place to minimalism the potential impact of fire. 

    But what exactly are fire suppression systems? How do they work and why are they so important? Keep reading as we’ve put together all you need to know.

    What are fire suppression systems?

    Fire suppression systems are systems installed within a building or site that acts to stop fire from spreading within the site or even extinguish it entirely. There are various suppression systems types available and each will use a different method of fire suppression. 

    How do fire suppression systems work?

    The main types of suppression systems will use a mixture of dry chemicals and or wet agents. These act to quickly neutralise fires before they escalate and get out of control. When looking to understand how fire suppression systems work, it is important to understand the components needed for a fire to ignite and remain burning. These are: 

    • Fuel
    • Oxygen
    • Heat
    • Combustion Chain Reaction

    If we look at the ‘fire tetrahedron’, a diagram demonstrating the factors needed for sustained fire, it can be seen that in order to extinguish the fire, one of the links between the above components needs to be eliminated or their balance changed. Fire suppression systems, therefore, aim to target one of these links by:

    1. Disrupting the combustion chain reaction
    2. Containing or eliminating the fuel source
    3. Diluting or cutting off the oxygen source
    4. Removing sufficient heat from the fire

    There are two main types of fire suppression systems, gas and electrical. Within these categories are various fire suppression methods. 

    Gas fire suppression

    A gas fire suppression system works to extinguish fire by releasing an agent that works to either: 

    • Reduce the oxygen levels in the area,
    • Reduce the chemical reaction within the air, or
    • Cool the fire until it dissipates.

    Oxygen Reduction

    When a gas fire suppression system uses oxygen reduction, it inserts gases, such as argon and nitrogen, to extinguish the fire. This works by the oxygen levels in the air diluting to below 15%, which is the level at which combustion (the process of burning) is supported. When oxygen levels are below 15%, fire is no longer able to be fuelled and will therefore extinguish. 

    Chemical Reaction

    Using chemical means to extinguish a fire within a fire suppression system works by removing the heat from a fire. The gases released from the system will create a mixture in the air that has a greater capacity much larger than air alone. This means that this gas mixture will absorb the heat from the fire to eventually extinguish it.  

    At BusinessWatch, we design and install two types of gas fire suppression systems: FM200 and Novec 1230. 

    FM200 Fire Suppression System

    This type of gas fire suppression system releases FM200, an odourless & colourless gas into the atmosphere to remove heat from the fire. When FM200 is released, it will mix with the air to create a gaseous mixture that has a heat capacity that is much larger than air alone. This means it can absorb more heat for each degree of temperature change it experiences, thus working to extinguish the fire. 

    FM200 is one of the fastest and most effective fire suppression systems and can extinguish a fire in as little as 10 seconds. 

    Novec 1230 Fire Suppression System

    This type of fire suppression system works in the same way as FM200. However, Novec 1230 is an environmentally clean agent, meaning it doesn’t negatively impact the ozone layer and therefore climate change. 

    Each of the above fire suppression systems can be and are recommended, to be implemented with the rest of a business’ fire safety system, such as fire detection sensors and fire alarm bell. Once a fire has been detected through heat or smoke sensors, the fire alarm will be triggered to alert all personnel on-site of a fire. This will then go on to trigger the fire suppression system, usually automatically, to release the external substance that will act to extinguish or reduce the spread of the fire. 


    Electrical fire suppression

    Electrical fire suppression systems are used in areas that are at risk of electrical fires breaking out, such as electrical cupboards and rooms with a lot of office tech. It’s important for electrical fires to be treated differently than other fire types due to them having an external energy source. Electrical fires are also one of the most common types of fire in workplaces due to faulty electronics. 

    Electrical fire suppression systems use linear detection tubing to detect and suppress fire and are installed through cableways and enclosures. If high temperatures or fire occurs, these pressurised tubes burst and an extinguishant is released that directly extinguishes the fire. This type of suppression system is effective due to the extinguishant being released at the exact point of the fire breaking out. 

    In order to alert the rest of the site that an electrical fire has broken out, the suppression system will be connected to the rest of the fire safety system so that a fire alarm is triggered when the tubing bursts. 


    Why are fire suppression systems important? 

    Fire suppression systems are important because they significantly increase the level of fire safety within a business site and acts as an effective way of reducing the risk of serious damage or harm being caused by fire. 

    Recent figures show that there were nearly 150,000 fires attended by the Fire & Rescue Services in the last year, with 249 fire-related fatalities. Therefore showing the real importance of high-quality fire safety and suppression systems being in place. 

    Additionally, fire suppression systems within business premises can provide you and your employees peace of mind and a real sense of safety when onsite, due to knowing that if a fire were to break out, the suppression system would automatically trigger and the fire would be controlled or extinguished. This is particularly important if your business is unmanned at certain times, such as through the night or out of hours. 


    6 benefits of fire suppression systems

    Improves site & personal safety

    Once installed, a fire suppression system will instantly improve the overall site as well as employee and visitor safety, due to having the ability to reduce the spread and/or extinguish a fire. 

    Safe & easy to use

    A great benefit is that fire suppression systems are safe to use and due to working automatically, do not put the responsibility on an individual to activate the system. 

    Early fire detection

    These systems have the ability to detect the very early signs of fire breaking out and therefore can trigger an immediate response, thus reducing the amount of damage carried out. 

    Fast & effective

    Fire suppression systems work automatically, meaning they are fast and effective in controlling a fire and reducing or breaking one of the fire tetrahedron sources or links.

    Suitable for most sites

    Another benefit is that these systems are able to be installed in nearly all site situations and are suitable for the majority of industries and businesses. 

    Fire safety compliant

    Fire suppression systems are all tested in a laboratory setting and have been scientifically proven to extinguish a fire, as well as being compliant with all industry legislation.   


    Find out more

    BuisnessWatch are experts in fire suppression systems and can install a system that’s right for your business site. Get in touch for a free quote or for one of the team to answer any of your questions.