Class actuation

Published:  02 March, 2016

Does your clean agent fire extinguishing system still meet NFPA 2001? Derek Dahlgren of TLX speaks with Jose Sanchez de Muniain about new requirements that became effective 1 January 2016.

As far back as 2010 the NFPA Technical Committee on Gaseous Fire Extinguishing Systems determined that there should be some form of system to determine the presence of electrical actuators on agent storage container discharge valves and selector valves.

The electric actuator, which sits on top of the clean agent cylinder, is vital for the discharge of the clean agent and without it there wouldn’t be a discharge of extinguishing gas.

Different actuators work in different ways but, in TLX’s case, they comprise a Samarium cobalt permanent magnet supporting a plunger on a spring in readiness for a signal. When the system is activated, an electric signal energises a coil, cancelling the magnetic field of the magnet and allowing the spring to, well, spring, in  less than 100 milliseconds from the time of the signal, thus opening the valve.

Like all components of a fire extinguishing system these electric actuators are routinely removed from the discharge and selector valves that they control to facilitate periodic testing. It is not uncommon for one or several of the electric actuators to remain unattached after the testing work has been completed. This leaves the clean agent system inoperable state and – more importantly - with no indication that it is impaired.

As a result, NFPA 2001 Section 4.3.4.1 requires that electric actuators on agent storage container discharge valves and selector valves be supervised in place as of 1 January 2016. This means that their removal must cause an audible and visible indication at the system releasing control panel.

To address the latest requirement, TLX Technologies of Pewaukee, Wisconsin – who has been developing custom actuators and valves for nearly 15 years - has designed a custom actuator that, uniquely, includes in its housing an active supervision switch. Derek Dahlgren, vice president at TLX, explained: ‘All other actuators that we are aware of are installing completely separate devices, which we think is a weakness. With our system, all our wiring goes into the same connector and harness, so there is only one conduit out for the actuator and the supervision.’

TLX has been granted a US patent for its integrated switch, which began to be rolled out some months ago with its first customer, Siemens: ‘Since then we’ve converted eight or nine US manufacturers [to the new technology] already, and others are in the process of converting.’

As well as providing a more robust solution, Dahlgren pointed out that the new actuator results in less cost because there is no need for a separate installation for the supervision device and no need for two sets of shipping orders, installation instructions or manuals. ‘In addition, we can also adapt the supervision capabilities to a pneumatic actuator for slave cylinders,’ said Dahlgren.

  • Operation Florian

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