Any gaseous fire suppression system that protects an enclosure should have a room integrity test when it is commissioned. It is a requirement of British Standards (ISO14520 / BS EN15004) and NFPA 2001 Code that a room integrity test is conducted on initial installation and thereafter at least annually.
What is a Room Integrity Test?
An Integrity test predicts how long fire suppressant agents take to descend to a given level in the room without having to discharge the actual suppression system. The room is sealed, and then the air pressure is tested with door fan and sensor equipment.
The fan unit is temporarily located within the test doorway to pressurize and depressurize the enclosure. A series of pressure and air flow measurements are taken from which leakage characteristics of the enclosures are established.
The predicted retention time is calculated from the leakage characteristics and the enclosure and extinguishing system data.
In most instances, a retention time of ten minutes is the minimum period the suppressant agents are required to be retained for within the enclosure. This is long enough for most deep-seated fires to be cooled so that re-ignition is unlikely. Gaseous fire suppression systems should provide adequate time for the emergency services to attend, and in most cases prevent the fire taking hold.
How long will it take?
The Test equipment (one fan unit) will take between 10 and 15 minutes to set up (as long as the access door is available) once the equipment is at the location. The test will take between 10 minutes to conduct but may take longer to inspect depending upon the condition of the enclosure and leakage characteristics.
Results will be produced within the hour from the final test performed with a detailed report following shortly afterwards. Total expected time on site (excluding induction, etc) is approximately 4 hours for one enclosure or 6 hours for two enclosures (depending upon size and number of engineers). Note the test itself will only require 10 minutes.
During this time, there is no need to shut down any Computer / Comms equipment within the enclosure, and in general all machines can remain fully operational.
How often is a Room Integrity Test required?
When you have a gaseous suppression system installed, your room will need testing to ensure that the suppressing will work as it should in case of fire. It is a requirement of British Standards that your suppression system is tested at least annually.
Any works that alter the structural perimeter of an enclosure (for example moving a wall, fitting a new door, or installing new cables) will almost certainly affect the retention of your gaseous fire suppression system.