Standard on Carbon Dioxide Extinguishing Systems, NFPA 12-2018

A carbon dioxide extinguisher in use blowing out white NFPA 12-2018 agents
Carbon Dioxide Extinguisher in Use

NFPA 12-2018: Standard on Carbon Dioxide Extinguishing Systems has been released.

Carbon dioxide is a key molecule in the respiration cycle of plants and animals. Animals breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, while plants take in the CO2, combining it with water—through energy from sunlight—to form carbohydrates. This process releases oxygen into the atmosphere.

As obviously evidenced from the lack of smelly, vibrant gases moving out of our lungs and into the earth’s plants, carbon dioxide is tasteless and odorless. Often known of today as a greenhouse gas—trapping heat in the earth’s atmosphere and, in the past century, emerging at unsustainable amounts—carbon dioxide can also be detrimental to our health, but only in substantial concentrations.

According to the CDC, 30-minute exposure to carbon dioxide at 50,000 parts per million (ppm) produces signs of intoxication, a few minutes of exposure at 70,000 ppm produces unconsciousness, and 100,000 ppm can be immediately dangerous to life.

Additionally, since carbon dioxide reduces the amount of pure oxygen, it is an asphyxiant, and overexposure to the gaseous molecule can lead to suffocation. Interestingly, this same attribute can make carbon dioxide an effective fire suppression agent.

Of course, it is integral to manage carbon dioxide fire-extinguishing systems for sufficient use without bringing harm to human life. NFPA 12-2018 details information that assists with doing just this, offering guidance for those charged with the purchasing, designing, installing, testing, inspecting, approving, listing, operating, or maintaining of carbon dioxide fire-extinguishing systems.

NFPA 12-2018 approaches a heap of detail relevant to CO2 fire-extinguishing systems, including guidelines and specifications for the duties mentioned above, as well as the materials, composition, components, and pressure of the system.

Furthermore, the NFPA 12-2018 standard addresses personnel hazards from the CO2 fire-extinguishing systems, stipulating that consideration should be given to the possibility of carbon dioxide drifting and settling into adjacent spaces outside a protected space, as well as additional concerns. It also calls for warning signs to be placed in conspicuous locations.

NFPA 12-2018 contains the following changes from the 2015 edition:

  • A new guideline for conducting testing of integrated fire protection and life safety systems, in accordance with NFPA 4, was introduced.
  • Section 4.7.6 for “Pipe Hangers and Supports” was added.
  • Section A. for full discharge tests was added to Annex A, “Explanatory Material.”
  • The equivalency statement was revised to use the standard text, which specifies that the authority having jurisdiction is responsible for approving an equivalent system, method, or device.

NFPA 12-2018: Standard on Carbon Dioxide Extinguishing Systems is available on the ANSI Webstore.

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