Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions regarding FM-200 (HFC227ea) waterless fire protection systems.
FM-200™ extinguishes fires through a combination of chemical and physical mechanisms. A typical design concentration of 7% v/v provides the required amount of gas to extinguish the flame.
FM-200™ systems are a trusted choice for waterless fire
protection. Our customers are businesses, governments, universities, hospitals,
and museums around the world with valuable assets to protect against fire. Over
100,000 systems are installed in over 70 countries. Applications range from
computer and electronic suites to military vehicles. From the largest Fortune
500 companies to small art museums: all rely on FM-200 (HFC227ea) systems
for fast, effective, and safe fire protection.
FM-200™ is stored as a liquid in pressurized cylinders.
When discharged, the liquid flows through a piping network into the protected
area, where it vaporizes. The amount of gas delivered from each nozzle is
carefully calculated to deliver the proper amount of FM-200 (HFC227ea) to
each protected area.
In a word, no. FM-200 (HFC227ea) belongs to the class of
compounds called HFCs, or hydrofluorocarbons, which were actually introduced to
facilitate the phase out of ozone depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs),
hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), and bromine-containing fluorocarbons (Halons).
The Kyoto Protocol concerns itself solely with emissions
reduction. The Kyoto Protocol is an effort by the developed nations of the
world to find a way to define a baseline and ultimately reduce emissions of
substances that contribute to global climate warming. It makes no reference to
a ban on the use of any HFCs, whether in fire protection or other uses.
There is currently no movement to banFM-200 (HFC227ea) or any
threat to do so. Remember, FM-200 (HFC227ea) was created in response to the
need for a clean gaseous fire suppressant to replace ozone-depleting Halon 1301
systems. It is thoroughly tested, meeting rigorous American and international
standards. It is also the only HFC product approved for fire protection in
Germany, a country known for its tough environmental standards.
There are no overall or outright bans onFM-200 (HFC227ea)
anywhere. However, there are a few notable exceptions where certain countries
have created barriers limiting the ability to sell FM-200 (HFC227ea) fire
Denmark has a general ban on all chemical extinguishants dating back to 1977, over a decade before FM-200 (HFC227ea) was invented. Iceland, which enjoys close ties with Denmark, has adopted a similar position. The Swiss government has stated that HFCs such asFM-200 (HFC227ea) can be used in cases where the safety of persons in aircraft, special army vehicles, and atomic installations could not otherwise be adequately assured.
Exhaustive testing has been conducted to assess the safety of
FM-200 (HFC227ea), giving it the most comprehensive toxicity database of any
clean agent. In fact, FM-200 (HFC227ea) is so safe that it is used as a
propellant in pharmaceutical inhalers that dispense asthma medications.FM-200
(HFC227ea) is a single, pure compound; there is no active ingredient in FM-200
The vast majority (>95%) of applications of FM-200 (HFC227ea)
involve the protection of Class A hazards. Extensive testing shows that the
levels of HF produced in extinguishing typical Class A fires are well below
hazardous levels based on the dangerous toxic load (DTL) of HF. Moreover, these
levels present no threat to electronics or other sensitive equipment. For
fast-growing Class B fires, HF levels may exceed the human DTL depending upon
the size of the fire and the volume of the protected area, and HF levels may
also present a threat to equipment. In most cases this is a moot point, as the
temperatures and levels of toxic combustion products such as carbon monoxide,
carbon dioxide, and smoke render the atmosphere toxic and corrosive even before
the discharge of FM-200 (HFC227ea). There is no such thing as an “ordinary
combustible fire.” Fires are not combustible, they are undergoing
Not when you consider the total installed cost of a FM-200
(HFC227ea) system is usually only a small fraction of the earnings potential of
the assets being protected. A FM-200 (HFC227ea) system takes up to seven times
less storage space than other fire suppression systems. And it’s difficult to
put a price on safety and peace of mind. FM-200 (HFC227ea) systems offer the
fastest fire protection available.
Water sprinklers do offer effective fire protection for
buildings and structures. Water sprinklers are designed to control fires,
limiting the spread of the fire and contain it to its original location long enough
to allow professional firefighters to respond and extinguish the fire before a
total building loss can occur. Unfortunately, water will also ruin computers,
electronics, artwork, and more–the very things you wanted to protect. By
comparison, a FM-200 (HFC227ea) system provides fire protection for critical or
irreplaceable assets contained within a structure. It’s designed to detect and
extinguish fires at their earliest stages to prevent any damage or
downtime from occurring.
No. Water mist is not a gas, and will not penetrate all portions
of an area like FM-200 (HFC227ea) gas will. Extensive testing has shown that
water mist systems perform poorly on small fires and are best suited for the
suppression of large fires. Therefore, water mist is not well suited for small
or shielded or obstructed fires, exactly the type of fires most FM-200
(HFC227ea) systems are designed to extinguish. It’s also crucial to remember
that water is electrically conductive and can be extremely damaging to
sensitive electronic equipment or valuable assets.
If your application is an ordinary combustible, electrical, or
flammable liquid fire, then a FM-200 (HFC227ea) system is most likely right for
you. The more valuable the assets you wish to protect (including people), the
more sense it makes to use a FM-200 (HFC227ea) waterless fire protection
system. There are a few instances where a FM-200 (HFC227ea) system would not be
the right choice for fire suppression. Applications not appropriate for a
FM-200 (HFC227ea) system include:
Applications involving chemicals that are capable of self-oxidizing or generating their own oxygen even without the presence of air, such as gunpowder and cellulose nitrate; or compounds that are very unstable and can spontaneously combust, such as hydrazine (rocket fuel) and many peroxides. Processing facilities or areas using pure powdered forms of metals. Fires fueled by reactive metals such as lithium, sodium, potassium, magnesium, titanium, zirconium, metal hydrides, and the radioactive elements uranium and plutonium require a different extinguishing strategy. Other applications where questionable chemicals are part of the fire hazard.
FM-200™ gas is non-conductive and is suitable for the protection
of Class C hazards (hazards involving energized electrical equipment). Testing
has demonstrated the ability of FM-200 (HFC227ea) to suppress typical Class C
fires, for example fires involving electrically energized cable bundles.
KARAFIRE has teamed up with the top fire protection equipment
manufacturers in the world to provide state-of-the-art FM-200 (HFC227ea) waterless
fire protection systems. Please contact us to obtain more information on how a FM-200
(HFC227ea) system can best protect your facilities and valuable assets.
FM-200™ systems in Iran are typically installed in
accordance with NFPA 2001 Standard for Clean Agent Fire Extinguishing Systems.
Section 184.108.40.206 of the NFPA 2001 (2018 edition) states: 220.127.116.11 Warning and
instruction signs at entrances to and inside protected areas shall be provided.
The “shall” designation in the NFPA code is a requirement, not an
The U.S. EPA 40 CFR directs the use of substitutes for halon
replacement.FM-200 (HFC227ea) is indeed included in the U.S. EPA SNAP
listing of halon alternatives. You will find HFC-227ea, the ASHRAE chemical
description of the chemical heptafluoropropane, listed as “acceptable for
occupied areas” under the EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Program
(SNAP).FM-200 (HFC227ea) is the Chemours brand name for our HFC-227ea fire
FM-200™ cylinders may be placed in or out of the protected
space, depending on the needs of the client. Both NFPA 2001, Clean Agent
Standard and ISO14520 allow the cylinders to be placed within or outside the
protected space. It is always a good idea to keep the cylinders as close to the
protected area as possible and remember to account for ease of access for
service and maintenance.
Several of our OEM Fire System partners have marine systems that
comply with SOLAS 74, under the IMO MSC Circular 848. As a result, FM-200
(HFC227ea) is currently being implemented as an agent of choice for many
commercial and military vessels.
NFPA 2001, 4-1.1, requires clean agent systems be thoroughly
inspected by competent personnel at least annually. Section 4-1.3 requires a
semi-annual check of the agent quantity and cylinder pressure.
In general, there is no limit to the height of protection in a
sub-floor. In fact, if the sub-floor were 3 meters high it would be treated
exactly like a room for purposes of design. Each manufacturer maintains a
system listing to a maximum nozzle height. Rooms exceeding this height are
effectively protected using multiple layers of nozzles, each layer remaining
within the height limitation. There are minimum heights for sub-floors to account
for the practical installation of nozzles and piping. Limitations on system
design are the responsibility of the specific system manufacturers and their
respective listings and approvals. You should contact your specific system
manufacturer for further clarification of the limitations on their particular
22. After a discharge is the residual FM-200
(HFC227ea) left in the space hazardous to responding fire fighters in
protective gear? Does the gear (which is WMD rated by the manufacturer) need to
be taken out of service to be decontaminated?
The key to responding to a postFM-200 (HFC227ea) discharge
is to evaluate the scope and nature of the fire event. If there was no fire
event, the agent can be safely and quickly removed through conventional air
handling (turn on the AC, open the doors and windows) and will pose no danger
to the respondents or the employees working in the space.FM-200 (HFC227ea) is
safe for people to breath at normal design concentrations.
In the event of a fire, most FM-200 (HFC227ea) systems are designed to respond while the fire event is still in the earliest stages and very small. In a typical electronic computer facility the fires are low energy, slow growth events. Early detection limits the potential for fire damage and combustion by products. Modern electronics, however, can give off a wide range of noxious byproducts when burned. For this reason, it is recommended that firefighters employ SCBA when re-entering a space. FM-200 (HFC227ea) will generate some HF as a result of extinguishing the fire.
In general, there is no requirement to decontaminate firefighter gear after responding to an FM-200 (HFC227ea) event. There will be little or no residue, other than possible combustion products from the fire, within the protected space. Repeated fire tests have been performed, without ever decontaminating the fire suits used by the technicians.
There is no requirement within NFPA 2001 for a dedicated exhaust
system when using FM-200 (HFC227ea). NFPA requires that the post-extinguishment
atmosphere be ventilated in a safe manner. With most installations, this can be
accomplished by simply turning on the air handling units and allowing enough
time to dissipate any smoke in a post-fire event.
Some jurisdictions have implemented additional local requirements concerning ventilation systems. You should check with your local authorities.
FM-200™ systems are usually installed specifically to protect
the contents of an enclosure and the ongoing operations of the protected space.
Sprinkler systems provide structural protection for a facility or building –
Tough to burn a brick or mortar. Both systems can be installed within a given
space, but provide very different levels of protection against damage.
BecauseFM-200 (HFC227ea) is a gas, it will flow freely wherever
the air goes. This is one feature that makes FM-200 (HFC227ea) extremely
effective in getting into and around complex structures, finding and
extinguishing fires in the deepest recesses. It will, however, also leak out of
the space with equal ease. Generally it is recommended that doors and
significant openings be closed prior to the discharge of the agent. This
includes ventilation dampers, windows, and other normal openings. For the
integrity of the space, we recommend performing a room integrity test with a
door fan unit. With all of the normal openings closed, the door fan provides a
slight positive and negative pressure to the space and calculates the total
cumulative volume of openings. Using this data allows us to derive a hold time
for the agent concentration. Hold time requirements are usually set by the AHJ
and most conventional enclosures look for ten minutes. This ensures thorough
extinguishment and minimizes the potential for reflash of the fire.
We do not have a training program specific to FM-200 (HFC227ea) systems, but we can forward information that we have produced. Materials discuss the use and efficacy of theFM-200 (HFC227ea) agent. Contact us for additional information on system components.