By: Dave Bruns, Senior Solutions Designer

If your business caught on fire, what could you afford to have destroyed? The question might sound absurd on its face but is a practical consideration that every business owner needs to make. Do you carry, handle, or use unique items that cannot be replaced? Do you rely on critical, expensive systems to run your business? How painful would it be if you experienced downtime?


For many businesses, the answers to these questions inspire doubt rather than confidence. Owners rarely, if ever, anticipate their business being threatened by a fire, and often assume their current fire suppression solutions are sufficient.


Unfortunately, relying on the sprinkler systems required by fire code is far from enough. Some businesses supplement their fire safety plan with portable fire extinguishers, but employees are rarely trained to use them properly. This approach represents a gap in business continuity planning, and in the event of an actual fire, these businesses would find their defenses lacking.


Instead, businesses seeking to minimize the risk of fire damage should consider adding a clean agent suppression system to their array of solutions.


What is a clean agent, and how is it different from sprinklers?

The term “clean agent” refers to fire suppressing chemicals that are released in a gaseous form, unlike traditional water sprinklers. 


Fire sprinkler systems provide code-required life safety protection and have been proven effective at controlling fires and saving lives. They are an essential part of any fire suppression strategy. However, fire sprinklers in most applications activate when the temperature of a room rises above 155° Fahrenheit. 


By that point, the fire has already generated enough heat and smoke to do significant damage, requiring extensive cleanup and recovery time. Fire sprinklers provide structural protection, and often contain a fire event to a single room or area. 


However, they do not prevent damage to electronics, artwork, documents, or other valuables. And when it comes to data processing hardware, a discharge from fire sprinklers onto the enclosures that contain the components will fail to extinguish a fire inside the server. 


A clean agent suppression system provides a necessary additional layer of protection that is accomplished using smoke detection, not heat detection. This early warning system allows a clean agent system to intercept a fire event in the early stages, far ahead of a heat-actuated sprinkler system. As a result, it protects the contents of the room, as opposed to just the building itself. 


Where can I use them?

Clean agents are a gas at atmospheric pressure, which provides the advantage of filling the entire volume of the room, including the interior of server cabinets. The ability to permeate these spaces allows them to permeate three-dimensional fire protection that fire sprinkler systems simply cannot.  


Clean agents do not conduct electricity or leave behind any residue, and therefore don’t require the cleanup of a heat-actuated suppression system. With this additional layer of safety, there are virtually no limits to the type of high-value assets we can protect. Whether it’s a server room, data closet, art gallery, antique/collectible store, manufacturing building, or dispensary, a clean agent system can help keep it safer.


Are they safe?

Absolutely. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) mandated toxicity testing of all clean agents. While it is usually advisable not to be near a fire regardless, all modern, clean agents are SNAP approved, and the standard includes compatibility with humans. 


In addition, all SNAP approved clean agents are essentially non-emission, which means they are neutral to the environment.


How can I get started protecting my business with a clean agent system?

At Tech Electronics, we understand the importance of protecting your people and valuable assets – it’s what we do. Our suppression experts can help you through each step of the process, from designing a solution that addresses your needs, to installation and implementation. To get started, contact Tech today.