How Is Room Integrity Testing Done?
Being that most fire suppression systems operate in total-flooding applications, it’s imperative that an enclosure is able to retain the gaseous agent for long enough to fully extinguish a fire. Room integrity tests are carried out here to assess how well a fire suppression would perform in any given protected area.
What Is A Room Integrity Test?
A room integrity test, also referred to as a door fan test, measures the air tightness and air leakage rate within an enclosure. It determines how long a gaseous extinguishing agent will remain at the right concentration levels to effectively suppress a fire within a protected room.
Gaseous fire suppression systems will only work properly in rooms with limited air leakage. A room with many leaks cannot hold the gaseous extinguishing agent for long enough to suppress a fire as the gas agent would escape from the room before the fire can be fully controlled.
Room integrity tests therefore allow you to determine the gas retention time of an enclosure and test for air leakages without having to discharge the actual extinguishing agent during testing.
Importance of Room Integrity Testing
Room Integrity testing ensures that a fire suppression system operates to maximum efficiency. It is a necessary requirement to ensure that an enclosure is properly sealed to prevent the extinguishing agent from escaping the confines of a protected area.
The NFPA 2001, Standard on Clean Agent Fire Extinguishing Systems, specifies that a minimum concentration of 85% of the adjusted minimum design concentration be held within an enclosure for a period of at least 10 minutes. A retention time of at least 10 minutes is considered a long enough period for most deep-seated fires to be cooled beyond re-ignition levels.
If the concentration of the gaseous extinguishing agent escapes from an enclosure, oxygen levels could increase again to levels high enough to support combustion. With existing heat and fuel sources still present, this may cause a fire to reignite.
This is where room integrity testing becomes very important, as it determines how effective the performance of a fire suppression system will be. It ensures that an enclosure is air-tight enough to maintain the necessary gas concentration levels for the minimum hold times required.
Recommendations For Room Integrity Testing
Room integrity tests should be conducted immediately after a gaseous fire suppression system has been installed, and routinely every year thereafter to validate the integrity of a protected area.
Over time the characteristics in a room may change, which results in new leakages and affects the retention time within an enclosure. Any alterations made to the structural perimeter of an enclosure, such as holes, cracks, cable entry points, electrical conduit points, and any other voids will require retesting of the room to ensure that all leakage points are adequately sealed.
For accurate readings and minimal interference, all air conditioning units and HVAC systems passing into the enclosure would need to be shut down or temporarily sealed during testing. Air conditioning units introduce a new air supply into the enclosure which disrupts the testing process.
Room Integrity Testing Equipment
The equipment needed to conduct room integrity tests include:
- Expandable Door Panels
- A Variable Speed Fan
- A Dedicated Portable Computer
Expandable Door Panels
An expandable door panel with screening cloth is fitted within the frame of an enclosure doorway. These door panels are designed to temporarily seal a doorway, and provides a hole to mount a fan.
Variable Speed Fan
A powerful fan unit is mounted into the screening cloth of the door panels in a doorway. The fan is used to blow air into or out of a room to measure the air leakage of an enclosure.
A manometer pressure gauge measures the airflow in an enclosure. It is a device that measures pressures inside and outside the enclosure, as well as the airflow generated to obtain these pressures.
A Dedicated Portable Computer
A portable computer is used for calculating and processing the measured values to determine the Equivalent Leakage Area (ELA). The Equivalent Leakage Area (ELA) is the total area of all holes, cracks, and joints that create leaks within the enclosure. The ELA is then used to calculate the retention time of the gas inside the enclosure.
FST technicians are equipped with the latest technology and equipment to provide you with the most accurate information available. Our room integrity testing services give you peace of mind knowing that a protected area will hold the concentration of the extinguishing agent for long enough to keep your critical assets safe from fires.
Room Integrity Test Procedure
A typical room integrity test procedure consists of two parts, the door fan test and the computer calculation.
Door Fan Test
The first part of a room integrity test involves the use of a fan mounted into a door panel to introduce a flow of air into the room. The fan blows air into a protected enclosure to create positive pressures that simulates the pressures exerted during a fire suppression system discharge.
The fan is then reversed to draw air from the room, creating a depressurised condition within the enclosure. Pressure and air flow rate readings are taken for both the positive and negative pressure tests.
The second part of a room integrity test involves inputting the pressure test readings into a computer, along with the details of the fire suppression system and the dimensions of the protected enclosure.
Specialised computer software then calculates the predicted Equivalent Leakage Area for the enclosure, as well as the room’s gas retention time. If the retention time is above 10 minutes, the room passes the integrity test. In instances where the retention time is below 10 minutes, the room fails the integrity test and identified leakages would need to be permanently sealed.
Once a test has been completed, a full room integrity test report should be produced detailing the date the test was conducted, identified leakage areas, pressurisation results, predicted retention times, and all other relevant information.
FST Room Integrity Testing
Fire and Security Techniques is a specialised fire protection company that supplies some of the most technically advanced fire suppression systems available. We provide ongoing fire suppression system services to ensure your fire systems are supported throughout their lifetime.
Contact us for thorough and accurate room integrity testing to ensure optimal performance of all fire suppression systems. We provide room integrity tests for a wide range of facilities with minimal disruption to normal business operations.