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It is vital to the effectiveness of a gaseous fire-fighting system that it is constantly maintained at peak performance. If in an emergency the system is called upon to discharge, it is of critical importance that the concentration of the gas, and the length of time it is retained in the room, are both at the originally specified level.
There was a time when full-discharge testing was the widely adopted method of assessing the effectiveness of gaseous installations. However, besides the unwelcome and wasteful effects of discharging large amounts of gasses – and particularly Halon 1301 – into the atmosphere, the test method was imprecise. Discharge testing techniques did not pinpoint the precise location of enclosure leakages; the test merely indicated a pass or fail status.

In addition to the growing pressure from insurance companies for organisations to adequately maintain their fire safety systems, building occupiers have other obligations. To ensure continued compliance with the relevant section of BS 5306, it is essential that all gaseous fire suppressant

installations – be they Halon 1301, NAF S-III, FM-200, CO2, Argonite or any of the other gasses currently on the market – are regularly maintained. An integral part of this maintenance activity is testing for leaks.

The Environmental Protection Act further reinforces this responsibility in the case of Halon installations. The Act demands that adequate safeguards are in place to avoid the accidental discharge of Halon – the manufacture of which was banned under the Montreal Protocol on the basis of its detrimental effect on the environment. It further requires that all installations are regularly tested for leaks by trained engineers.
To comply with British Standards 5306 or NFPA 2001, room integrity testing should be carried out annually. However there are other circumstances that bring about the need for unscheduled testing. Moving a partition, fitting a new door, or in any way perforating the structure of a room will almost certainly inhibit its ability to retain the gas for the prescribed time. Any structural changes should immediately trigger a re-test.
ISO 9001-approved GIELLE is one of World’s leading fire safety engineers. In addition to servicing a whole range of gaseous fire suppressant systems, an associate company – Specialist Pipework Installations – designs, supplies, installs and commissions Vesda ASD, FM-200, Argonite, R-102 and CO2 fire-fighting systems.

GIELLE’s room integrity testing engineers use the very latest equipment and the tests are conducted to National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standard 2001 and in accordance with BS 5306.

In simple terms, special GIELLE apparatus causes pressure to be created and air to be forced at high speed through any leaks in the room being tested. A cool chemical smoke or other air current indicator is used to pinpoint the location of leaks and give an indication of their size.

Once the test is complete, the GIELLE engineer issues an on-the-spot computer-printed report, detailing all the test data, leakage areas and predicted retention time for the enclosure, as well as any recommendations, along with a test certificate. 
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