Electrical Room Gas Suppression Systems

Bradley Parker, Managing Director at Future Fire Systems explains why your block may need a gas suppression system.

The majority of converted apartment blocks have a communal electric intake enclosure situated within the main escape route space i.e. ground floor final exit. This enclosure normally houses the individual electric meters for each apartment, along with the landlord’s consumer unit and possibly other ‘third party’ equipment such as the communal fire alarm panel, access control or door entry system.

Unfortunately, in most cases, almost all of these electrical enclosures are ‘unfit for purpose’ when it comes to being fire resistant, in both their construction composite and the sealant of the access doors.

A fire occurring within this space can;

  • impede a final exit of the building.
  • cause electrical damaged and disruption to services i.e. electric supply to individual apartments / housed fire alarm control panel / door entry system / access control system etc.
  • cause significant damage to the cupboard and surrounding communal area.

To eradicate or reduce the occurrence of an electrical fire, there are a number of self-activating fire suppression systems on the market that can be fitted within the electrical enclosure.

How they work

Below is a basic ‘how it works’ from one of the leading manufacturers of such a system;

  • The automatic fire suppression system does not need any external energy or power supply. This makes it cost effective as no electrical installation or wiring is required.
  • Detection tubing is installed throughout the enclosure and connected to a pressurised cylinder valve. The tubing is then charged with nitrogen and this pressure is utilised to hold back the extinguishant in the cylinder.
  • Should a high temperature or fire occur then the pressurised tubing will burst and the extinguishant will be deployed directly from the burst hole onto the heat or fire. This effectively means the fire has formed the ‘discharge nozzle’ so it is always exactly in the right location.
  • A switch is also added to the system and is held closed by the cylinder pressure. Should the tubing burst or the pressure be lost for any reason then the switch will open and this signal can be used to raise an alarm i.e. linked to the building fire alarm system.
  • The simple design of the system allows for a minimum of maintenance work. There is a greatly reduced risk of malfunction because there are virtually no moving parts, which reduces the risk of false alarms

Over half of all fires are caused from electrical origin, with almost 20% of these caused by electrical distribution.

Incorporating an electrical cupboard gas suppression system will no doubt enhance a fire protection strategy within a block property.

Bradley Parker is the Managing Director of Future Fire Systems, providing design, installation, commissioning and service & maintenance in all aspects of fire protection.