Grenade (gre-nade): a small missile that contains an explosive or a chemical agent (as tear gas, a flame producer, or a smoke producer) that is thrown by hand or projected (as by a rifle or special launcher).
Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary
By nature, grenades are destructive. The DSPA-5, a dry powder aerosol device for extinguishing fire, is similar to a grenade only in that it uses an igniter designed for grenades.
Otherwise, it is a life saving tool, said AFG Flame Guard USA spokesman Joseph Kuesis.
“You pull the pin and throw it in,” Kuesis said. “You don’t have to get it near the seat of the fire. You just have to get it in the same room.”
The AFG Flame Guard USA assortment of dry sprinkler powder aerosol (DSPA) devices, both fixed and portable are old news in many parts of the world such as Europe. Now the Netherlands-based company that first put them on the market is introducing them to America.
Weighing less than 12 pounds, the DSPA-5 is specifically designed as a deterrent to dangerous backdrafts and flashovers. Eight seconds after the pin is pulled, a single unit can dispense enough non-toxic potassium compounds to fill more than 3,500 cubic feet, reaching even the most difficult recesses to put out the fire.
“It comes out at an expansion ratio of 6,000 to one, yet the contents are not under pressure,” Kuesis said. “Everything inside is a solid block of potassium compounds. It gets pushed out as an aerosol with an inert nitrogen carrier gas that serves as a second fire fighting solution.”
The DSPA-5 knocks down fire within 30 seconds, dropping the temperature in a confined space by as much as 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit.
“The aerosol absorbs heat at the molecular level,” Kuesis said. “It doesn’t create a new thermal layer by pushing the heat to the floor or the ceiling. It actually absorbs the heat.”
The unit can be used by a trained firefighter during an interior attack or an untrained responder operating from outside the fire.
“Let’s say you’re a policeman who is the first on the scene at a fire,” Kuesis said. “The fire is confined to one or two rooms. However, the fire trucks will not arrive for at least another eight or 10 minutes. If a DSPA-5 is available, the fire can be suppressed long enough for the firefighters to save the structure.”
Best of all, the DSPA-5 dramatically reduces the amount of water used and, subsequently, the amount of water damage incurred.
Numerous demonstrations of the DSPA-5 in use are available on YouTube. For Kuesis, the most memorable demonstration of the product’s effectiveness was conducted several years ago in Seward, AK.
“The firefighters had picked out an old dilapidated building,” Kuesis said. “Unbeknownst to me, they ripped out the windows. They filled the room with hay and wood, and then started the fire with a magnesium flare.”
Kuesis said he insisted on waiting until the inside temperature reached 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, which worried the firefighters.
“They thought the fire would get away,” he said. “They deployed the DSPA-5 through the window and it put out the fire in 17 seconds flat.”
DSPA products utilize an aerosol alternative to Halon, a highly effective extinguishing agent that is no longer legal to manufacture due to its adverse environmental impact. The DSPA aerosol is listed as a Halon substitute under the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program developed by the Environmental Protection Agency.
“Existing Halon systems can only be recharged with stored agent obtained from a Halon bank,” Kuesis said. “No new Halon systems are being built.”
By contrast, the aerosol used in DSPA systems has no measured global warming potential and zero ozone depletion potential. And, unlike some Halon replacements, it does not decompose into a corrosive agent such as halogenic acid when heated, Kuesis said.
“Where does that stuff settle?” Kuesis said. “If you have computers, it settles on the boards inside. Our product is a solid. The two percent of it that does not burn up in the fire settles into a very fine layer that can easily be dealt with using a vacuum or a broom.”
And, like Halon, the aerosol is non-toxic if inhaled by innocent bystanders, unlike systems that displace oxygen.
The DSPA-5 can also be effective in an outdoor setting, such as a refinery or other industrial facility, Kuesis said.
Beside its portable units, AFG Flame Guard USA also manufactures fixed systems using the same dry powder aerosol married to high tech electronic fire detection. These newsystems have already found their way into marine fire protection.
“We have installed them in the big ore carriers on the Great Lakes,” Kuesis said. “We have also installed them aboard a large commercial fishing fleet in the Bering Sea. We are working to get them into cruise line vessels.”
Newly introduced to the U.S. market is the NOFIQ® Fire Protection system developed to protect switch cabinets, control cabinets and server cabinets using the same dry powder aerosol technology.
“NOFIQ is French for ‘no fire,’” Kuesis said. “It uses both a carbon monoxide sensor and a temperature sensor. Both have to register a change indicating fire simultaneously to trigger the aerosol.”
The system measures carbon monoxide in parts per million, he said. For example, it can detect the CO2 released as an electrical short circuit begins to scorch the rubberized coating of the wiring.
“We start detecting at 0 parts per million and begin alarm warning at 20 ppm which is extremely low,” Kuesis said. “It can warn even before ignition. If that warning is not acted on, it can extinguish the resulting fire.”
Beside mechanical systems, AFG Flame Guard USA also promotes a line of intumescent paints and coatings offering fire protection.
“Say you have a gypsum board firewall designed to hold for at least 30 minutes,” Kuesis said. “Our primer and a finish coating will expand that fire rating to two hours at a modest cost.”
Beyond its existing products, AFG Flameguard has a new fire fighting innovation on the horizon. However, that device remains top secret until further notice.
“Every firefighter I’ve shown it to can only compare its effectiveness to a 20-pound extinguisher, but it is much more portable,” Kuesis said. C