The focus of fire protection has always been to limit the damage a fire can cause. Originally, the goal was to confine fire to a city block. Today's conventional water systems can confine a fire to a building, a floor and even to the point of containing a fire within a single room. Water was, and still is, the primary tool to control structural fires. However, with today's technical sophistication, containing a fire to a single area is not always enough. Critical facilities require an even higher level of fire protection. .
A small fire, even one contained to one area or controlled by a conventional sprinkler system can cause problems in a critical operation. Most sprinkler systems activate when temperatures reach a pre-set level, often after a fire is established and equipment damage may have begun. Water based agents are electrically conductive and cause current flow which can damage sensitive equipment. Even with the power off, water discharges often cause equipment problems. Abrupt electrical shutdowns are hard on both equipment and operations; and the cleanup process, mopping up and drying out equipment, is often tedious. .
Clean agent systems work on class A, B, and C fires and react quickly to extinguish a fire at its earliest stages. Using early detection and rapid extinguishment, clean agent systems eliminate the fire, reduce the damage to equipment, and increase the safety of people in the fire area . Clean agents extinguish fires as a gas, which gives them the ability to permeate into cabinets and obstructed areas. It also makes them uniquely suited to protect the electronics hidden inside a piece of equipment, a likely place for a fire to start. By thoroughly flooding the area with a gaseous fire fighting agent, even obscured or hard to reach fires are quickly extinguished, usually long before they can be seen. After extinguishment, the agent is readily ventilated from the room along with any byproducts of the fire.