Fire Safety (Part II): Quick guide to fire protection systems

By: April 7th, 2011 Email This Post Print This Post

The following is an excerpt from the Complete Guide to Laboratory Safety, Third Edition, by Terry Jo Gile. To purchase this book, click here.

Several fire protection systems are on the market today, which include the following:

  • Carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide gives fast, safe, and effective protection for fires involving electrical equipment and flammable liquids. They are generally suited for use indoors, making them ideal for office environments. They are highly effective, easy to use, and eave no messy residue to clean up. CO2 extinguishers are suitable for Class B and C fires.
  • FE-36 agent. The FE-36 agent is effective on fires because it discharges as a liquid and provides a discharge range up to 16 feet. FE-36 replaces Halon 1211 as the agent of choice for applications where the agent must be clean, electrically nonconductive, environment-friendly, extremely low in toxicity, and exceptionally effective. FE-36 can be used on Class A, B, or C fires.
  • Haltron 1. Haltron 1 is a Halon alternative that has Environmental Protection Agency approval and comes in a portable extinguisher. It is ideal for protecting office computer areas, data storage, telecommunications, and high-tech clean rooms. Halotron 1 can be used on Class A, B, or C fires.
  • Multipurpose dry chemical. Multipurpose dry chemical is an extremely versatile agent since it will defend against the majority of fire risks found in a variety of environments. It is also the most economical multipurpose agent available. It can be used on Class A, B, or C fires.
  • Purple K dry chemical. Purple K dry chemical is designed for use on high-hazard fires. It is ideal for use in industrial and commercial environments where there is a risk for flammable liquid. It can be used on Class B or C fires.
  • Water. High-pressure water is best suited for fired that involve trash, wood, or paper. Water is especially effective on fires that must be completely soaks to be fully extinguished. Water is used on Class A fires only.
  • Class D dry powder fire extinguisher. A class D dry powder fire extinguisher is used on metal fires. It is used on Class D fires only.
  • Wet Chemical extinguishers are used for Class K fires only.

The wise lab director will consider the following:

  • Does the agent used extinguish Class A, B, and C fires?
  • Does it absorb heat? Can the gas be used in occupied spaces?
  • Does it leave residue that has to be cleaned up?
  • Can the activation be absorbed easily?
  • Is brief exposure by employees considered nonhazardous?
  • Does the system automatically interface with the facility’s fire alarm system?

If a fire suppression system is used, it must be tested every six months by a certified fire alarm company and all employees must be trained to use the system.


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