What are Clean Agent Fire Suppression Systems?

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), a clean agent is an electrically non-conducting, volatile, or gaseous fire extinguishant that does not leave a residue upon evaporation. A clean agent fire suppression system uses either a chemical or inert gas to suppress a fire at the inception stage before it can grow and is incredibly effective in extinguishing Class A, B, and C fires.

Clean agent fire suppression systems are safe to use in occupied spaces, require no clean up after discharge, and are environmentally friendly with a short to no atmospheric lifetime and a low Global Warming Potential (GWP). Systems are designed around providing total flood protection for small enclosed areas or entire rooms containing sensitive documents or equipment.

Types of clean agent fire suppression systems

The most common types of clean agent systems use chemical agents like FM-200™ (HFC-227ea) and 3M™ Novec™ 1230 or inert gases, which are made up of gases like nitrogen, argon, and carbon dioxide. All clean agents are stored as either a gas or liquid, and when the system activates, it releases the clean agent as a gas to suppress the fire. Upon discharge, the clean agent removes or disrupts one of three elements needed to sustain a fire – heat, oxygen, or the fuel source. Most clean agent fire suppression systems reach extinguishing concentration levels in just 10 seconds or less, making them highly efficient in suppressing a fire before significant damage can be done. Because clean agents quickly evaporate, there is minimal downtime as no clean-up is required.

3 Common Clean Agents

There are a number of clean agent fire suppression systems on the market, but the three most common agents used for fire suppression are inert gases, FM-200, and Novec 1230. Let’s take a quick look at how these three different clean agents work to extinguish fires.

Ansul Inergen

Ansul INERGEN is a clean agent that uses three inert gases — nitrogen, argon, and carbon dioxide. This clean agent works by lowering the oxygen content in a room below the level that supports combustion, while still allowing a person to breathe. This makes it an extinguishing agent that’s safe for the environment and for people.


This is a non-toxic, colorless gas that uses heat adsorption to extinguish fires. FM-200 removes the heat element of a fire, leaving no residue and ensuring that your assets and any occupants are kept safe.

Novec 1230

Novec 1230 is another colorless, non-toxic agent that is often used in applications with sensitive electronic equipment. This fluid safely extinguishes fires without disrupting critical, high-value assets, and it’s safe for people and the environment.

Clean Agent Fire Suppression System Applications

Data Centers


Archive Libraries

Server Rooms

All Control Rooms

Electrical Cabinets

Electrical Components

Telecommunication Sites


Medical Equipment.

What is the best clean agent fire suppression system?

When it comes to evaluating which clean agent system to implement, several factors should be considered. You must take into account the area or type of equipment you are protecting, amount of space required for the clean agent cylinders, and where cylinders will be located relative to the area or asset being protected. As previously mentioned, inert gases are less effective and require more agent when compared to the chemical agents and therefore need larger or more cylinders to protect the same space. Inert gas systems can be located farther away from the protected space because of the pressure of each cylinder and easier flow of the inert gas through the discharge piping. FM-200TM and NovecTM 1230 systems need to be located in closer proximity to the protected area as the compressed liquids don’t flow as well as inert gases, requiring less distance between the cylinder and discharge piping.

What Are the Benefits of Clean Agent Fire Suppression Systems?

Why should your business or organization consider choosing a clean agent fire suppression system? While all systems have pros and cons, clean agents are one of the most low-maintenance fire suppression systems. Here are just a few of the benefits of implementing a clean agent fire suppression system:


Clean agents are non-toxic and non-corrosive. This means they’re safe to be used in environments where people are present.
No Associated Damage: Since clean agent fire suppression systems don’t use water or powders, they don’t cause any damage. They’re safe to use in applications with sensitive technology, electronics, and high-value assets.

No Cleanup

Clean agents don’t leave a residue. That means that after your system discharges, you don’t have to worry about extensive cleanup.
Minimal Downtime: With no damage and no cleanup, its easy for you to get your business back on track.

Fast Acting

Clean agent systems actuate in seconds. Since they extinguish fires effectively, most fire damage should be limited to a small area.

Understanding Clean Agents and The Environment

Many fire suppression agents are great for extinguishing fires, but not always the best for the environment. Some agents can contribute to ozone depletion, while others contain some toxic properties that aren’t safe for people or the planet. When it comes to clean fire suppression agents, it’s good to know that they are safe for the environment.

Clean agents have zero ozone depletion potential. They don’t affect the earth’s ozone layer, which means they’re safe to use without harming the environment. They’re also non-toxic and non-corrosive. Finally, most clean agents dissipate quickly, if not as soon as the fire is suppressed. With short atmospheric lifetimes, these agents don’t pollute the environment either.

Clean agents are an effective, and attractive fire suppression option for a variety of applications. If you’re interested in implementing clean agents, know that your choice will help protect our environment, while still keeping your facility safe. The Vanguard team would love to help you make the switch. Give us a call at 616-245-8719 or contact us online and we’ll set up a convenient time to go over the details.