Fire Suppression System

Last updated: December 15, 2019

What Does Fire Suppression System Mean?

A fire suppression system is an engineered set of components that are designed to extinguish an accidental fire, typically in a workplace but also potentially in a transport vehicle or other site of interest.

Safeopedia Explains Fire Suppression System

Fire suppression systems always consist of at least one component designed to extinguish a fire through the application of an external substance. Many fire suppression systems also consist of fire detection systems, as well as signaling mechanisms designed to alert workers to the problem and prompt responsible persons to take further suppressive actions. The detection of a fire often automatically activates the extinguishing component of the system; however, some fire suppression systems require manual activation.

In the United States, standards for the quality of a fire suppression system are governed by the National Fire Protection Association.

Both the potential dangers posed by a fire and the methods that are necessary to extinguish that fire vary significantly depending on the source of the fire and the other hazards that are present in the workplace. For instance, the dangers posed by fire in a location that features explosion hazards or is situated in a context that limits a worker's ability to evacuate (e.g. an oil rig) require more extensive and specialized suppression systems. In recognition of the wide variety of the different types of fires that may occur and the equally wide variety of responses necessary to contain them, OSHA and other international health and safety organizations have a variety of standards that apply to fire suppression that vary depending on the particular hazards that are present in a given workplace.

Water-based fire suppression systems such as sprinkler systems are popular because they pose a low risk to human health and use a readily available material. If the source of the fire is a liquid, the use of wet agents may be inadvisable due to a lack of efficacy and the risk of spreading the fire through splashing. In this case, a dry agent is often used.

In situations where the source of the fire is extremely difficult to extinguish or is difficult to reach, such as the interior of an electrical system, use of a “total flooding system” that saturates an effected room with suppressant may be necessary to prevent the fire from spreading. Total flooding systems can cause significant harm to humans if proper safety procedures are not followed. A gas-based total flooding system can cause asphyxiation or pressure-related trauma to anyone trapped in a flooded area.


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