Gas Fire Suppression Systems

Primarily deployed in environments such as server rooms, computer suites, and communication rooms, Gas Fire Suppression Systems offer a high level of protection by efficiently removing oxygen from the environment to quench fires. Let’s explore in more detail the diverse types of gas suppression systems—including Novec 1230, INERT IG-55, CO², and Water Mist—and the critical importance of routine maintenance and Room Integrity Testing to ensure their effective operation.


Gas Fire Suppression Systems

Fire suppression systems extinguish electrical fires by releasing a concentration of gas within a particular room, removing the oxygen and extinguishing the fire.

Most commonly found in server rooms, computer suites and communication rooms a Gas Suppression system protects the integral functions of your business.

We install, maintain and service all types of fire suppression systems:

Novec 1230: A colourless gas, virtually odourless and non-conductive. It extinguishes fire mainly through physical means.

INERT IG-55: A blend of Argon and Nitrogen which is found naturally in the atmosphere. It does not contribute to global warming and does not harm the ozone layer. It is highly recommended for the protection of electrical and electronic materials.

CO²: Characterised by its rapid and efficient penetration in the area to be protected, it does not generate residue or decompose products.

Water Mist: Some systems use water mist as part of the new generation of clean extinguishing agents.

Room Integrity Testing

Areas protected by fire suppression systems should, upon commissioning and regularly throughout the system life cycle, be tested for air tightness as air-leakage will result in the concentration of the fire suppressant agent falling too quickly and therefore not enabling the efficient extinguishing of the fire. These annual checks are known as Room Integrity Tests or RIT.

How does a Room Integrity Test work?

A Room Integrity Test works by creating pressure within the room or enclosure where the Fire Suppression System has been installed. The Test then measures the integrity of the room to ensure the gas does not dissipate too quickly before being able to extinguish the fire. It will also check to ensure the room is not sealed to tightly, as this may cause internal structural damage.

What is the minimum retention time?

Room Integrity Testing ensures the extinguishing agent will achieve the correct concentration and maintains it for a ‘minimum retention time’ value. The minimum retention time required under BS EN 15004-1 for all gaseous agents is 10 minutes, apart from CO² which has a minimum required retention time of 20 minutes.

The ‘retention time’ is the period that the gaseous agent should exist at an acceptable design concentration (Cmin), whilst remaining above the minimum protected height to prevent the re-ignition of a fire once it has been extinguished.

The ‘minimum protected height’ is a determined height from the base floor level to the top of any identified critical asset or risk, or as designated by the ‘responsible person’. The ‘responsible person’ should always be consulted with, and agree the minimum protected height, regardless.

What type of system requires a Room Integrity Test?

Common Systems that require a Room Integrity Test are FM200, NOVEC 1230, Co2, Inergen, IG55 and IG541. Due to the overall characteristics of FM-200 the sealing requirements for effective retention are much more stringent than those for any of the Inert agents.

In general an enclosure protected with FM-200 needs to be sealed to reduce the leakage by at least half that allowed for the Inert Agents, this can and does have an impact on the structural sealing costs.

If an enclosure has satisfied an Integrity Test utilising Halon as the medium it will definitely satisfy the requirements for any of the inert agents resulting in no additional structural costs.

Unless the result with Halon is in excess of 12.5 minutes it will not satisfy the requirements for containing FM-200 resulting in the need for structural improvements inevitably leading to an increase in building costs.

How often do I need a Room Integrity Test?

Any gas fire suppression system that protects an enclosure should have a room integrity test when it is commissioned. It is a requirement of British Standards (ISO14520 / BS EN15004) and NFPA 2001 Code that a room integrity test is conducted on initial installation and thereafter at least annually. It should also be performed if any modifications to the room take place.

What if the Room Fails?

If a room fails an Integrity Test, we will give you a full report detailing the areas that failed and provide a bespoke room sealing service. Our trained engineers will attend and locate the leakage, this may be done with the use of smoke. Once the leakage is identified this will be sealed using specialist sealing products.


The Final Word

Ultimately, the effectiveness of Gas Fire Suppression Systems hinges not only on the choice of agent but also on the integrity of the room or enclosure they protect. Regular Room Integrity Tests are critical to ensure that these systems perform as expected during an emergency, maintaining the necessary gas concentration to prevent re-ignition of the fire.

By understanding the requirements for these tests and ensuring they are conducted annually—or more frequently if modifications occur—facility managers can significantly enhance the safety of their critical assets.

Engaging with knowledgeable professionals who can provide expert installation, maintenance and repair services, such as those offered by our highly skilled and thoroughly trained engineers, is essential in upholding the standards of fire safety and ensuring the longevity and reliability of these sophisticated suppression systems.

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