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Subject: Fire suppression systems

Fire suppression systems

From: Paul Baril <paul_baril>
Date: Tuesday, April 25, 1995
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The following are brief notes to answer Frederick N. Honneffer's
question on the latest fire suppression systems for microfilm
storage vaults. My comments apply to any collection storage room
housing water sensitive collections.

Halon Gas: Existing installations do not have to be removed
immediately, and there are no penalties for accidentally discharging
the system.  However, museums should start making financial plans to
replace these systems in the near future. The EPA as approved
several commercial products as environmentally acceptable
alternatives to halons. Unfortunately, none offer a direct
replacement for existing systems. Most will either need many
additional containers or new types of containers as well as major
system retrofits. All are terribly expensive.  NRC has just begun a
series of tests to evaluate the performance of some of these halon
alternatives. It would be wise to wait for test results before
considering any substitute gas.

Watermist or Micromist Systems: These are making astonishing
progress as a potential substitute for gaseous systems. Although
they are basically high pressure automatic sprinklers, they do not
use nearly as much water as conventional sprinkler systems. An
experimental program is presently underway at the University of
Maryland to evaluate their performance. So far test have shown that
very hot fires can be suppressed with as little as one half litter
of water. Again, we will have to wait (about a year) before they are
listed by UL and/or ULC, and installation standards are in place.

Paul Baril
Fire Protection Advisor
Heritage Services
Canadian Conservation Institute

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                  Conservation DistList Instance 8:86
                 Distributed: Saturday, April 29, 1995
                        Message Id: cdl-8-86-003
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Received on Tuesday, 25 April, 1995

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