Fire Safety and Suppression: CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) Fire Suppression Systems

We produce CO2 on a daily basis but did you know CO2 could be used as a fire suppression agent? Did you know that CO2 has suppressed more fires than any other agent besides water? CO2 is a very useful and beneficial agent when used in an industrial application where people are not present. CO2 is colorless and odor less. Most people mistake the fog that is seen as CO2 but that is actually the ice crystals that are formed from a solid going to a liquid at such a rapid rate.

CO2 the Agent: What is it?
· CO2 extinguishes a fire by Oxygen depletion. The fire triangle is broken when one of the legs is removed.
· CO2 is 1½ times heavier than air. This means that it will fall to the lowest point possible and extinguish a fire.
· CO2 has an expansion rate of 9:1. It has the ability to displace oxygen very quickly thus it is a very effective suppressing agent.
· CO2 forms dry ice when it vaporizes.

Advantages of CO2
· CO2 is Clear, Colorless, and Odorless.
· CO2 is a proven fire suppression agent that is electrically non-conductive.
· CO2 does not leave a residue behind after it is applied to a fire that is being extinguished and it is non-corrosive.
· CO2 is effective on Class A B and C fires.
· CO2 has suppressed more fires than any other agent after that of H2O (water).

Disadvantages of CO2
· In a confined space CO2 does not support life safety.
· One can be in danger of asphyxiation in a confined space.
· CO2 shall not be used to protect
o Chemical compounds containing their own O2 (oxygen) supply. Examples are gunpowder and cellulose nitrate).
o Reaction metals such as sodium and potassium
o Metal Hydrides

Safety Considerations
§ When determining if a CO2 Fire Suppression should be used there are safety considerations that should be considered:
§ Discharge time delays.
§ Adequate audible and visual alarms.
§ Location of storage containers that contain the CO2.
§ Exit locations.
§ Ventilation after CO2 discharge.
§ Awareness of low-lying areas.

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