Original Date: 03/17/1997
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Early Suppression Fast Response Fire Protection
Fire suppression is a critical need in warehouse settings. Traditional water sprinkler systems use small-size orifices to create a mist for controlling a fire but lack strong suppression capabilities. In 1994, Polaroid began retrofitting its facilities with Early Suppression Fast Response (ESFR) fire protection sprinkler systems.
The ESFR system possesses several characteristics which distinguish it from a traditional water sprinkler system. The major difference is that ESFR systems rely on fire suppression rather than fire control. By using larger-sized orifices, the system creates bigger droplets of water which penetrate and extinguish the fire before a severe fire plume develops. In addition, the system uses a thin thermal link that generates an extremely quick response time. Early suppression can be achieved with ESFR systems if controlling factors such as actual delivered density (ADD) and required delivered density (RDD) are properly addressed. ADD, the rate at which sprinklers dispense water, will decrease over time. RDD, the density required to achieve fire suppression, will increase over time and is affected by the fire’s size at the time of application. ESFR systems work most effectively with an initially-high ADD and a low RDD.
Polaroid’s implementation of ESFR fire protection sprinkler systems is one of the company’s primary defenses against the threat of fire. By using a phased retrofitting process for installing the ESFR systems, Polaroid alleviated its insurance company’s concern that high risk materials needed to be more effectively protected. Areas were retrofitted as problems arose, and all traditional water sprinkler systems were eventually replaced. All new buildings will be equipped with ESFR systems, where appropriate. ESFR systems cost approximately $1.50 per square foot.
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