Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Largest Novec System in the country

Project profile: Installing a large clean agent system in a complex environment

A government data center opted for a clean agent suppression system to protect its mission critical facility.


Figure 1: This shows the primary and secondary clean agent tank installation in the data center. Courtesy: Southland IndustriesSouthland Industries recently designed and installed one of the largest clean agent fire suppression systems in the nation. The stakes were high as the goal of the project was to protect sensitive data stored on hundreds of servers within a large government facility. The project was particularly complex not only due to its large size and stringent standards for security, but also because it needed to seamlessly integrate with a double interlock pre-action system and an energy-efficient containment method of air cooling.
The immediate challenge facing the design team centered on accommodating the agency’s requirement that the building have continuity of operations. The agency needed to be able to perform system maintenance and upgrades without losing power to the system or any of its functionality. Any kind of system disruption—even one consisting of only a few minutes—was simply not acceptable.
Designing and installing this clean agent system required not only meticulous planning, but also creative thinking that led to a set of innovative and smart solutions for the building owner. It served as a reminder that regardless of any apparent incompatibilities among systems performing different functions, there are ways to design and structure them so they operate as a cohesive whole.
To ensure continuity of operations, project engineers designed a double interlock pre-action system to reduce the chance of accidental water discharge in the event of a fire. This would assure that water would only be discharged as a last resort in the 66,000-sq-ft data center space. As a first line of defense, a clean agent system using 3M NOVEC gas would be used.
Figure 2: Installation, accessibility, and serviceability are key considerations in the storage tank arrangement. Courtesy: Southland IndustriesInstalling a clean agent system in such a massive area required a creative approach by the team. Regulations required that clean agent “storage containers shall be located as close as possible to or within the hazards they protect” (NFPA 2001, Section But the configuration of the building was not conducive to situating the clean agent system close to these protected areas. The server room and mechanical gallery are located in the center of the second floor over a 3-ft raised floor. The ceiling height of the server room is approximately 12 ft, and the space above the ceiling to the deck is approximately 4 ft. The electrical power supply via switchgear equipment is located directly below the server room space. All of this made it impractical to place the clean agent tanks on the same floor as the servers.
Given these constraints, the team determined that the best solution would be to locate the clean agent primary and secondary supply tanks on the ground floor, even though the protected hazard—the servers and mechanical gallery—are located on the second floor, 20 ft above and several hundred pipe lengths away.
This complicated matters even further, requiring the team to ensure the clean agent system’s fire-extinguishing gases could just as efficiently reach the protected areas as they would if they were located closer to them. This meant making sure that the system was equipped with the appropriate amount of gas and was forceful enough to pump that gas into the areas.
None of the clean agent systems certified at that time were right for the job. The project required a newer system that had a higher discharge pressure. After thorough evaluation and analysis of needs, the team eventually settled on the 500 psi NOVEC 1230. The system was so new that it was still going through its final approval process by UL, a third-party listing agency, as it was being installed. A few months before the project was turned over to the owner, the system gained official UL approval.
In addition to the many challenges already identified, the team needed to address the issue of arranging the various fire life safety systems and MEP trades and equipment in a limited amount of space. The fire suppression piping, along with the other trades, required detailed coordination to prevent interference and a lack of constructability. To prevent potential conflicts, the piping was designed, planned, and coordinated in 3D to reduce field changes. This allowed for the inclusion of bracing in the clean agent piping (similar to seismic bracing) to hold the pipes in place against the force of pressure that is exerted when the clean agent gas is discharged. By strategically locating the pipe, any potential interference with the other trades was prevented.
Another focus of concern was the need to prevent pipe corrosion. It was important to make space for a nitrogen system to prevent corrosion of the pipes of the double interlocked pre-action system, which employs schedule 40 black steel pipe. Concern about future corrosion prompted the pre-action system to be supervised by an inert gas such as nitrogen in lieu of standard air. However, space was not made available on the second floor to accommodate the infrastructure needs of the nitrogen system. As a result, the nitrogen generator and storage tank had to be located on the first floor in the clean agent storage tank room. From there, the supervisory nitrogen is piped up from the first floor to the pre-action valves on the second floor. The pre-action valve is required to automatically revert to a non-interlock configuration in the event of a power loss. Upon the return of power, the pre-action valve returns to its standard release method.
Finally, the project also needed to meet the requirements of and be certified to U.S. Green Building Council LEED Gold, version 3.0. It would be registered through the Green Building Certification Institute, with performance goals based on a “high-performance green building” as defined by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.
To reach LEED certification in a building with many servers, the agency employed the containment method using barriers to trap and direct airflow to control cooling. The challenge with this method, however, is that the structure created obstructions that would make it difficult for the clean agent gas to reach it. The hot aisle containment areas are large enough to walk in and therefore require sprinkler protection as well as clean agent protection. The aisle utilized ceiling grids down the center for lights and fire protection devices but had 2-ft-wide open areas along the length of the enclosure. To address this, the project team altered the clean agent nozzle locations so that they entered into each of the containment areas.

Corey Wallace is an associate principal engineer with Southland Industries. He holds a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from the University of Mississippi and a master’s of engineering management from Christian Brothers University.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Retiring from the industry...


He had breakfast with Elvis. Twice!

He shared a room with baseball Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax when both were in the spring training camp of the Los Angeles Dodgers…

But in the long and exciting career of Dale Kent, he is perhaps best known for his influence and leadership in the fire suppression industry…

Although he recently retired from his position at 3M after a mere 51 years, Dale will long be remembered for his active participation in the FSSA during its recent period of significant growth. Dale started his 3M career in 1963 in Decatur, Alabama, his home state.   After obtaining his Chemical Engineering degree, Dale moved to Minnesota in 1977 where he continues to reside today.  Initially, he was responsible for developing UV resistance coating for 3M’s athletic surfacing, following which Dale took on the responsibility of training installers on a global basis.  In 1980, Dale joined the technical service group for 3M’s Light Water AFFF and subsequently served as technical manager and sales manager.  With 3M’s invention of 3M™ Novec™ 1230 Fire Protection Fluid and the decision to commercialize that product in 2001, Dale joined the group as sales manager and held that position until his retirement. 

On behalf of 3M, Dale joined FSSA in 2002 and immediately volunteered to serve on several different committees.  In 2007, Dale was elected to the association’s board of directors.  Dale has served as secretary/treasurer, vice president and was ultimately elected as the president of FSSA in 2013.
Dale and his wife Jeannie reside in Fridley, Minnesota, and they have three children and five grandchildren. Together they have attended most of the FSSA Annual Forums where they have established life-long friendships.  Quick with a joke, or to work diplomatically to guide the Board through challenging discussions, Dale Kent has demonstrated a positive influence, both on the industry, as well as on those fortunate to serve with him! After 51 years on the job, the FSSA membership recognizes Dale Kent for his successful career, as well as for his numerous contributions to the association.

We would like to wish Dale a long and happy retirement. Congratulations on your amazing career!

Friday, August 8, 2014

25TH Anniversary for ARFF Working Group Conference

ARFF Working Group

25th Annual ARFF Working Group Conference & Educational Symposium
"A Texas Sized 25"
September 29 - October 2, 2014 -- Moody Gardens Hotel - Galveston, TX

"To Promote the Science & Improve the Methods of Aviation Fire Protection and Prevention" 

Who Should Attend

Airline Safety Personnel
Airline Station Managers
Airport Ops Personnel
Aircraft Accident Investigators
Pilots & Flight Attendants
Aircraft Rescue Firefighters
ARFF Chiefs & Training Officers
FAA Regional ASCI's
NTSB & Airline Go Team Members


1.  Participate in the premier event for the aviation firefighting industry
2. Interact with ARFF regulating agencies
3. Hear from ARFF subject matter experts
4. Network with ARFF firefighters and industry experts from around the world.
5.  Have Some Fun!!

Current Exhibitors

A-Gas RemTec
Akron Brass
Allison Transmission
Beacon OHSS
DFW Airport Fire Training Research Ctr.
FareTec, Inc.
FireBlast Global
Fire Research Corp.
FLIR Systems

Global ARFF Services

Morrison Maierle
No Foam Systems
Oshkosh Corporation
Performance Advantage Co. (PAC)
Setcom Corporation
Simulation FTS
Systems Atlanta
Ward Diesel Filter
Waterous Company
Wesco HMB

ARFF Working Group | 817-409-1100 | info@arffwg.org | http://www.arffwg.org
P.O. Box 1539
Grapevine, TX 76051

August 8, 2014


We are now only 8 weeks away from the  ARFF Working Group's 25th Annual Conference and Educational Symposium,  

Feature Topics
Below is a list of the topics that are tentatively scheduled to be presented:

Asiana Crash and Lessons Learned
Case Studies on Recent Aircraft Incidents
LAX & Massport Active Shooter Incident Review & Drills
FAA Headquarters Updates
Incident Rehab on the Scene -- Are We Doing Enough?
The Psychology of Incident Command
Airport Water Rescue Planning
Australian ARFF's Organizational Structure -- Examine How ARFF is Meeting its Regulatory Obligation
Mythbusters... ARFF Training:  What We Think We Know
Assessing the Impact of Interactive Technology on Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting Training

Vendor Rodeo -- Monday, Sept. 29th

With the assistance of Texas A&M Engineering Extension and the University of Missouri's Mobile ARFF Fire Trainer (MAFT), attendees will have the rare opportunity to get up close and personal with the vendors as they demonstrate their products, services or vehicles in action.  
Don't MissThis Exciting 1-Day Event.

Host Hotel

Moody Gardens Hotel, Spa & Convention Center
The Moody Gardens Hotel will be the location of all educational sessions, meetings and exhibits.  Moody Gardens offers the finest in Galveston, Texas lodging accommodations on the island.  To make reservations call 888-388-8484 and ask for the the Aircraft Rescue & Fire Fighting rate ($149).  Reservations may also be made on-line by using the Group Code rescue.


Ground Transportation
The ARFF Working Group has selected Cool Tours as our official ground transportation supplier.  Transportation from both Houston airports will be available via Cool Tours.  Houston's Hobby airport is closer to Galveston Island and is recommended.  For airport transportation, please call Cool Tours at 409-539-5374 or e-mail steve@cooltoursgalveston.com.  Have your flight information available.  A rate for transportation will not be calculated until Cool Tours has an idea of how many pick-ups and returns will be required for both airports.  This is to get your the best possible rate.  It is important you contact Cool Tours with your flight information as soon as possible.  Once established, they will contact you with your rate for your roundtrip transportation.

Avis Rent-A-Car - has partnered with the ARFF Working Group to provide rental cars at a discounted rate.  If you wish to reserve a car, call Avis at 800-331-1600.  Please mention AWD# D016562 when you call.  Reservations may also be made by using this link:  Avis Discount for:  25th Annual ARFF Group

Quick Links


Sunday, Sept. 28th
Although there will be no "official" golf tournament, arrangements are being made to play golf prior to the start of conference.

If you are interested in a fun-filled day of golf with your fellow firefighters, friends and vendors, please contact Alec Beard at alec.beard@gmail.com to sign-up for this event.

Tee-Off is scheduled for 1:00 P.M. at the Moody Gardens Golf Course.

Galveston At A Glance

Moody Gardens Aquariam

The Strand

Palm Beach

Flight Museum

The Beach