Victaulic VortexWhat comes to mind when you hear the term “fire suppression”? Anybody involved in the industry knows that technology has come a long way when it comes to sprinklers and overall fire protection systems, and here at Harrington Group, it’s our job to stay on top of the latest developments. We recently toured the Easton, Pennsylvania facilities of Victaulic, a global fire protection equipment researcher/manufacturer and also the company behind Victaulic Vortex™, the world’s first FM Approved hybrid fire suppression system using both water and inert gas.

According to Victaulic Senior Project Engineer Larry Carmen, development for the self-contained system began in 2003 when Fire Suppression Technology Manager Bob Ballard set out to create a suppression mechanism that uses inert gas and water more effectively.

“He recognized that when extinguishing fire, the existing systems put a lot of water out, but only a small portion ends up on the fire itself,” Carmen said. “The rest of the water needs to be cleaned up afterward.”

Carmen explained that the Victaulic Vortex system uses nitrogen to help break water droplets into a fine mist, which results in minimal wetting of the protected area, eliminating the need for extensive cleanup. The water mist provides cooling and helps block the radiative heat transfer to other objects in the room.  Also, oxygen near the flame zone is displaced by the steam produced when the water mist droplets are vaporized by the heat from the fire.

Victaulic Vortex can be used just about anywhere, but Victaulic recommends it in particular for facilities with a lot of machinery, and also for data centers. Traditional sprinklers can cause damage to machinery like combustion turbines and generators, but the Victaulic Vortex system doesn’t present the same water damage risk. The advantage in data centers, Carmen said, is that it’s “green,” and safe for the occupants working there. They recommend everyone leave the room before the system is discharged, but the discharged inert gas and water mist will not be harmful to someone inadvertently left behind during the relatively short period of time they will need to then exit the room.

Victaulic representatives work with engineering firms like Harrington Group, who then work directly with clients to determine whether systems like Victaulic Vortex are a suitable option. The engineers are constantly reviewing applications and providing enhancements and updates to the system.

Victaulic Vortex is part of the overall fire protection system of a building,” said Contract Administrator Frank Freidl. “We try to make the system as flexible as possible to work with any particular alarm detection and control scheme a building may have.”

For more information about Victaulic Vortex and other Victaulic systems, visit