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Room Integrity Test in London

Room Integrity Testing
If you have a gaseous suppression system, then you are required to carry out a room integrity test in London, in order to check the enclosure ability to retain an effective concentration of gas, which is a critical to the safe operation of the system.

This is to determine the time that an extinguishant will remain active in an enclosure at the designated protected height, which is usually the top of your critical equipment, such as server/data racks. This is achieved by measuring the amount/time of extinguishing agent to escape from the confines of an area and allowing the concentration to diminish.

Undertaking Room Integrity Test in London

 Room Integrity Test in London

As part of the ISO 14520, ISO 15004, NFPA and BFPSA Codes of Practice for Gaseous Fire Fighting Systems, room integrity testing should be undertaken in a protected enclosure to determine whether air leakage could impact upon the extinguishant performance. The Room Integrity Test should be undertaken when it is first installed, and then regularly as part of the routine maintenance, once a year and/or if works have been carried out to the enclosures’ envelope, such as newly formed penetrations through the walls to allow for new electrical/data installations.

The room integrity test in London is undertaken by installing a calibrated blower fan unit within the test doorway to pressurize and depressurize the enclosure. Afterwards a series of pressure and de-pressure air flow measurements are taken from which leakage characteristics of the enclosures are established. The predicted retention time is calculated the type of extinguishing system data and the leakage characteristics.

For most extinguishing system types, a retention time of ten minutes is the minimum period the suppressant agents is required to be retained for within the enclosure. 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. This is usually long enough to prevent re-ignition for most deep-seated fires and should provide adequate time for the emergency services to attend and prevent the fire taking hold.

Room Integrity Testing on Data Centres in London
We often get asked the question “what’s the difference between a Data Centre and Server Room?” A server room is ‘as it sounds’ a room that stores the servers. A data centre on the other hand is usually much bigger and is usually a whole facility dedicated to containing a vast amount of computer racks in an ultra-secure environment. The most identifiable difference is the size. Almost any modern office that use computers will possess a server room, however, larger bodies such as large scale businesses, universities and retail operations almost always invest in purpose built data centre infrastructure, as they all need to process much larger amounts of data; this has to be done in a secure and controlled environment.

Data Centres usually consist of the following three key elements;

• Building Elements – Cooling System, Air Economisers, Fire Prevention & Suppression systems and Access Flooring

• I.T. Elements – Equipment Racks, Air Containment System, Cooling Monitoring, Cabling, PDUs and Environment Sensors

• Power Elements – UPS, Generators, Switchgear, Panel Boards, Meters, Breakers and Transformers.

All this requires a facility that’s very secure along with a large physical space to house the entire collection of infrastructure and equipment. Data Centres are arguably the most important asset for any company, with this mind isn’t it essential that data centres are run and maintained in the safest way possible and why room integrity test in London should be used as part of every companies ongoing maintenance plan.

A Typical Data Centre That Will Require Room Integrity Testing

Room Integrity Testing

Due to the potential issues associated with fire damage, it is essential that your main asset can contain the gas suppressant for as long as possible to prevent the fire reigniting. To enable this it is important to ensure that good room integrity is established at the end of the enclosures construction and maintained throughout the life cycle of the enclosure. It is with noting that the annual integrity inspection and testing are also required by the BFPSA and are routine practice at most major commercial institutions such as banks and data storage companies. The benefits of ensuring good room integrity in London are recognised by insurers and regulatory authorities, who frequently insist on such testing.

How do you carry out Room Integrity Test in London?

1. The enclosure is measured, a plan made and the type and quantity of extinguishant recorded. The height of the highest hazard in the enclosure (risk height) is noted.

2. Where relevant, doors within the enclosure are opened and a number of false floor and ceiling tiles are removed so that the protected enclosure is tested as one space. A return air path is established outside the enclosure by opening doors/windows as appropriate.

3. The door fan equipment is set up in a suitable door opening. Personnel may continue to work within the enclosure during the test and may enter and leave, subject to access, except when pressure readings are being taken.

4. Any air handling equipment involving supply into, or extract from, the enclosure will need to be set by the client or end-user into the same condition as would occur on system discharge (usually dampers closed and fans off). This need occur only whilst pressure readings are taken. Recirculation and a/c units without fresh air make-up may be left operating throughout the test to prevent temperature build-up in the enclosure. Details of the arrangements are noted.

5. The extinguishing system and enclosure data obtained earlier is entered on to the computer. This calculates the design concentration and the column pressure (typically between 4 and 20Pa) that would be exerted by the gas after discharge.

6. The door fan(s) is used to pressurise and depressurise the enclosure to the column pressure and the fan pressure required in each case is recorded. For certain system design a series of pressure readings are taken.

7. The pressure data is entered on to the computer which calculates the airflow, equivalent leakage area and the retention time. If the result satisfies the specified retention time (usually 10 minutes) the enclosure is deemed to have passed the test.

8. If the retention time is less than that required, a detailed inspection is undertaken to establish the main leakage paths. This includes floor and ceiling voids as relevant. On occasions, chemical smoke pencils may be used in conjunction with the door fan equipment to assist leakage identification. These produce only very small quantities of smoke at the perimeter of the enclosure and are not used in the vicinity of any sensitive electronic equipment.

9. Should the leakage path distribution be found to be other than the worst case situation assumed in the initial computer calculation, the retention time is recalculated accordingly. Also, if practicable, major leaks may be temporarily sealed, new pressure readings taken and a revised retention time calculated. Retention times meeting requirements are recorded as passes, subject to any necessary corrective actions; those not doing so are reported to have failed.

10. A written test report will be submitted. The report contains details of the enclosure, extinguishing system parameters, pressurisation results and predicted retention time graph. Recommendations are given advising the sponsor of any leakage areas or other features requiring remedial action.

11. The duration of the room integrity test is approximately two hours per enclosure.

What Happens if I Fail my Room Integrity Test in London?

If you fail your room integrity test in London don’t panic, APT’s highly trained and experienced Enclosure Testing Engineers will be able to locate the problem areas and identify where air is leaking out of the building by walking around the test enclosure with a localised smoke puffer, pencil checking the most common problem areas first.

Some of the most common air leakage paths within the building envelope are:

1. Around cracks or penetrations within the masonry/.plasterboard walls.
2. Around pipe chases and cable trays where they penetrate the perimeter boundaries of the protected enclosure.
3. Around the inside perimeter at the floor and ceiling junctions.
4. Around porous blockwork walls - this can be remedied by painting and ensuring the mortar joints are full.
5. Around the entrance door reveals - door sweeps this can be remedied by installing drop seals, weather stripping around jambs.
6. Around window frames and glazing.
7. Around various penetrations within the ceiling void such as underside of doorways.
8. Around poorly installed air conditioning dampers.

Once we have undertaken the smoke test and located the air leakage paths, we can collate and issue a detailed air leakage report which can be passed on to the fire sealing team.

It’s worth noting that the smoke won’t cause any damage to the building and/or equipment. By combining our fan testing equipment, we blow the smoke out through any penetrations in in the enclosure envelope; this makes the air paths far more visible. Smoke leaking from the enclosure can also be seen outside, and photographed to provide a record of any external leakage paths.??Pressurised Smoke tests are ideal for identifying both generic and smaller more torturous areas of air leakage.

The importance of Room Integrity Testing in London
Room integrity testing is one of the most important aspects of any fire suppression system. If a protected enclosure has a suppression system, the agent that is discharged into the enclosure has to be able to remain there for a minimum period of 10 minutes, from the initial activation of the fire alarm or alert.

A fire suppression system can provide adequate cover and function correctly if the room is adequately sealed. A room that is insufficiently sealed may allow the suppression agent that has been discharged into the room to escape too quickly, prior to fully extinguishing the fire which may result in massive damage to your major asset – as shown in image below.

A Fire in a Protected Room

Fire in a Protected Room

The performance of any protected room and fire suppression system can only be guaranteed when serviced regularly through a professional maintenance routine. APT always recommend that room integrity testing is made part of an annual service and maintenance package, to ensure that on discharge, the suppression agent achieves and maintains the correct concentration, at the appropriate height for minimum required timeframe.

Air Pressure Testing provides the necessary Room Integrity Test in London to the required ISO 14520, ISO 15004 methodologies. We have undertaken hundreds of enclosure integrity tests around the UK and Europe. As part of our service, we can also arrange an annual test plan and remind you when the fire enclosure test is required.

If you require our fire enclosure testing services, please call Air Pressure Testing on: 07775623464 or email us at: info@airpressuretesting.net

APT Sound Testing Services
Head Office: Sayells Farm, 7 Harlington Road, Upper Sundon, Bedfordshire, LU3 3PE

APT Sound Testing Services