Room Integrity Testing
Room integrity testing is one of the most important aspects of any fire suppression system. If a protected enclosure has a suppression system, the agent that is discharged into the enclosure has to be able to remain there for a minimum period of 10 minutes, from the initial activation of the fire alarm or alert.
A fire suppression system can provide adequate cover and function correctly if the room is adequately sealed. A room that is insufficiently sealed may allow the suppression agent that has been discharged into the room to escape too quickly, prior to fully extinguishing the fire which may result in massive damage to your major asset.
Room Integrity Test with Blower Door
The performance of any protected room and fire suppression system can only be guaranteed when serviced regularly through a professional maintenance routine. APT always recommend that room integrity testing is made part of an annual service and maintenance package, to ensure that on discharge, the suppression agent achieves and maintains the correct concentration, at the appropriate height for minimum required timeframe.
In many instances although the room may be quite air tight, the enclosure may fail as the distance from the structural height (the ceiling) of the enclosure may be very close to the top of the protected height – the top of the server racks. When designing a protected enclosure it is always best to allow plenty of distance between the top of the protected height and the ceiling as this should result in more retention time, as long as your enclosure is sufficiently airtight. In ISO 15004, it clearly states that an enclosure must be integrity tested annually when protected by a gaseous fire suppression system and/or alternatively when alterations are made to the structure of the enclosure such as the introduction of new cable or mechanical runs.
At APT we provide room integrity testing for a wide variety of types and manufacturers of fire suppression systems, whether it is part of a system installation or annual inspection or intermediate post work testing. Our engineers use the latest high powered fan technology to test all types and sizes of enclosure from small server rooms to large data centres. If your enclosure fails the room integrity test we can undertake a smoke survey and produce a detailed report to highlight the air leakage paths, this allows your site operatives to accurately seal the areas of air leakage.
It is a requirement that a room Integrity Test is carried out at the time of the fire suppression installation. It is also a recommendation that a room Integrity Test is carried out on an annual basis as part of the routine maintenance schedule. This test is designed to ensure that an extinguishing concentration is held for a sufficient time (normally 10 minutes) to prevent re-ignition in the event of a fire.
The Door blower fan” Room Integrity Testing methodology provides a means of predicting the retention time without the need to release the extinguishing gas. The blower door fan test methodology is in accordance with the general requirements specified in BS 5306, BS:ISO 14520, NFPA 12A, NFPA 2001 and the BFPSA Code of Practice for Gaseous Extinguishing Systems. Small pressure differentials between the enclosure and surrounding areas by locating the fan equipment is in the data centre doorway. Pressure and depressor airflow measurements are taken, from which the leakage characteristics of the enclosure are established. The predicted retention time is calculated from these leakage characteristics and the enclosure and extinguishing system data.
Detailed studies have revealed that the predominant cause of failure of gaseous extinguishing systems is inadequate room sealing, which is usually down to excessive air leakage paths through the building envelope. It is also found that room integrity performance reduces with time; this is usually due to ongoing modifications to the envelope to accommodate extra mechanical and electrical installations such as data cabling etc.
Due to the potential issues associated with fire damage, it is essential that your main asset can contain the gas suppressant for as long as possible to prevent the fire reigniting. To enable this it is important to ensure that good room integrity is established at the end of the enclosures construction and maintained throughout the life cycle of the enclosure.
It is with noting that the annual integrity inspection and testing are also required by the BFPSA and are routine practice at most major commercial institutions such as banks and data storage companies. The benefits of ensuring good room integrity are recognised by insurers and regulatory authorities, who frequently insist on such testing.