Although water is a universal way to extinguish most conventional fires, it is hardly the last word in fire protection. That’s because it has numerous limitations, particularly the damage it causes to structures and especially to computer data centers and server rooms.
Gas fire suppression systems work by using a variety of inert (i.e. non-reactive) gasses to extinguish a fire. Gasses are applied according to two strategies: total flooding and local application. In total flooding, extinguishing gas is flooded around the three-dimensional fire space until it reaches a certain concentration sufficient to put out the fire. Local application injects the gas directly onto or near the fire, generally in a two-dimensional or already contained area.
In both methods, the system can be activated automatically by sensors, or manually by facility management.
Fire safety systems built on these principles offer several benefits over other types of fire protection.
Firstly among these is that, while appropriate for extinguishing several different types of fires, they do little to no damage to the fire space in the process. Compare that to water, which can easily ruin a building. The system relies on argon, carbon dioxide, or other inert gasses, which are generally non-reactive chemically.
Considered almost as important as the type of gas used is the simple fact that it’s a gas. As soon as the fire is put out, the area can be ventilated and clean-up work can begin. Thus, gas fire suppression saves the considerable time and expense of water remediation.