Based on extensive testing, the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Research Foundation has established guidelines for the installation and use of HVLS (High Volume Low Speed) fans in buildings with ESFR (Early Suppression Fast Response) automatic sprinklers. In a significant vote of confidence for the products, the testers concluded that HVLS fans, without additional fire, smoke, or heat detecting equipment, did not prevent the sprinkler systems from meeting the established “pass” criteria for any of the tests.
The guidelines were made upon the completion of the second phase of a two-part study analyzing the impact of HVLS fans on automatic sprinkler systems protecting stored commodities. The study was sponsored by six risk management companies and three HVLS fan manufacturers and was comprised of a series of 10 full scale fire tests.
Testing was conducted at FM Global and Underwriters Laboratories under the supervision of AON Fire Protection Engineering. The project was conducted in conjunction with the Property Insurance Research Group (PIRG), whose technical panel oversight committee includes industry experts, consultants, and sprinkler association members.
“This is a long-awaited moment for the HVLS fan industry,” said Dan Anderson of Rite-Hite Fans. “We are glad that the HVLS fan manufacturers could work together with NFPA, FM Global, UL, and sprinkler industry representatives to help establish these application guidelines. Building owners/managers who follow them should have no hesitation about using HVLS fans in warehouse applications.”
Although local fire marshals or facility managers may prefer to have HVLS fans automatically shut down when sprinklers are activated, the new NFPA guidelines call out only two specific sprinkler/storage combinations in which automatic shutdown is required within 90 seconds of sprinkler activation.