What is room integrity testing?
Room integrity testing is critical to the effectiveness of any special hazards fire suppression system. This test, also known as a door fan test, measures the leakage of an enclosure, ensuring that the gaseous agent is retained in the protected room to effectively extinguish a fire, protecting your employees, equipment, and facilities. The National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) 2001, Standard on Clean Agent Fire Extinguishing Systems, requires that a minimum concentration of 85% of the adjusted minimum design concentration be held at the highest level of combustibles for a minimum period of 10 minutes.
When Flagship Fire’s technicians conduct room integrity testing for your system, they will temporarily install a large ducted fan in the doorway, which pressurizes the room or enclosure to simulate the pressure exerted during a fire suppression system discharge. The room is then depressurized by reversing the flow of the fan. Throughout this process, airflow and pressure readings are monitored, and then equivalent leakage area (ELA) for the room is calculated using specialized computer software.
Importance of construction in room integrity testing
Rooms or enclosures specifically built for sensitive, mission critical equipment are typically less prone to leakage, however, they still must be tested. In these cases, the perimeter walls generally extend from the floor to the ceiling, which creates an impenetrable fire rated barrier around the entire room.
Rooms or enclosures that were not build specifically for this purpose can still be retrofitted to successfully retain a clean gaseous agent for the appropriate amount of time. In these cases, the perimeter walls may only extend to just above a drop ceiling. Rooms like these with significant overhead leakage often will not pass a standard door fan test, but may be able to be successfully testing using other methods.
Testing by technical judgment
In some cases, it may be necessary to seek the approval of the local Authority Having Jurisdiction to waive the quantitative results produced by a standard door fan test, and instead conduct a detailed witnessed leak inspection. This is rare because doing so would mean that they accept liability in the event that a fire does occur in that room or enclosure. This process of room integrity testing by technical judgment is outlined in NFPA 2001 Annex C.1.2.2 (5) in the section titled Technical Judgment.
With a door fan installed, the floor and walls are closely examined for leaks using a smoke pencil. If the smoke demonstrates extreme turbulence around potential leakage points, air is escaping, and therefore, the room is improperly sealed. On the other hand, if it does not, it’s generally safe to assume the room is properly sealed and therefore passes the test by “technical judgment” of the Authority Having Jurisdiction, provided they are willing to sign off.