Canadian Consulting Engineer


August 1, 2011
By Canadian Consulting Engineer



Antifreeze in sprinklers

can cause combustion

In July the U.S.-based National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) gave a webinar on its new requirements for its sprinkler standards under NFPA 13.

Presenter Matthew J. Klaus of NFPA explained that they began by noticing a common thread to “a handful” of unexplained fires: they all had a high percentage volume of antifreeze in the sprinkler system.

In one case from 2009 in California, a person had been cooking onions on the kitchen stove. When the sprinklers came on there was a fireball and the kitchen windows were thrown 50 feet. The investigators found that though the sprinkler system designer had called for a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water, in fact the system had contained 72% antifreeze and 28% water.

Subsequent research confirmed that if the common antifreeze solutions propylene glycol and glycerin are not mixed with water in appropriate percentages, they can ignite and contribute to a fire.

Consequently, in April this year NFPA published an updated Alert with requirements that will be incorporated in the next NFPA 13, NFPA 13R, NFPA 13D, and NFPA 25 standards.

Under the new rules, sprinkler systems have to contain only antifreeze solutions that are premixed in a factory. The premixed antifreeze must be certified, and tested annually. For glycerin the premixed concentration must be only 48% by volume, and for propylene glycol the limit is 38% by volume.

An exception is made for ESFR (early suppression fast response) sprinklers for specific applications, when they may use premixed solutions containing propylene glycol in excess of 40% by volume.

Klaus said, “If someone can come up with a non-combustible solution that provides freeze protection, they will be very rich.”

fire protection

The University of Laval has installed a Notifier/Honeywell system of fire protection spanning all 32 buildings on the Quebec City campus. The ONYX Series addressable system has 35 panels and 20,000 supervisory and detection devices. The network combines AM-2020 and ONYX NFS-3030 panels connected via 42 km. of multi-mode fibre optic cable set in conduit in tunnels. The system uses the NOTI-FIRE-NET high speed data communications network.

Notifier recently released digital content models of its ONYX Series fire alarm control panels for use with BIM models.



has launched the 4100ES (eServices) Fire Alarm System. It provides added processing power, simpler installation and remote-service diagnostics, remote-program downloads, and mass storage of system data within the panel.

Simplex also has enhanced its webstore for accessing its fire protection and security products.



‘s 2011 Security Solutions catalogue includes an expanded line for the ipAssured program. Used to extend the lifecycle and performance of security systems, ipAssured provides cabling solutions for network video, access control, storage and recording.


has a new CCTV IP Extender Kit that allows up to two IP cameras to be connected via coax or Cat5e/6 cable up to 1 mile to a 10/100BaseT network switch. The product allows existing coax CCTV cabling systems to be preserved when migrating to IP camera systems.


A new commercial inline fan from Systemair, the MUB-EC, is energy efficient and flexible, with an air performance from 760 to 6400 cfm. The fan has an intelligent direct drive EC-motor and a blower with reduced noise. Removable panels allow the air flow direction to be set from straight to 90 degrees.


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