Validation of Modeling Tools for Detection Design in High Air Flow Environments project underway

Blog Post created by mikehazell Employee on Nov 15, 2011

Background: Information‐technology and telecommunications (IT/telecom) facilities provide critical services in today’s world. From a risk standpoint, the indirect impact of fire loss due to business interruption and loss of critical operations, sometimes geographically very distant from the IT/telecom facility itself, can far outweigh the direct property loss.

In the past few years, there have been dramatic changes in the equipment housed in these facilities, which have placed increased demands on HVAC systems. As a result, airflow containment solutions are being introduced to increase energy efficiency. From a fire safety design perspective, the use of airflow containment creates a high airflow environment that dilutes the smoke, which poses challenges for providing adequate detection, and affects the dispersion of suppression agents.

Annex Section B.4.5 of NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, states, “There currently are no quantitative methods for estimating either smoke dilution or airflow effects on locating smoke detectors.” Although tools exist to model fire development, detection time, and suppression agent dispersion, they have not been validated for this application.

Research Goal: The goal of this project is to develop a validated set of modeling tools that can be used for providing reliable analysis of detection performance in IT/telecom facilities. The first phase of the project is currently underway.  For more information, contact Amanda Kimball, Foundation Research Project Manager, akimball@nfpa.org.