A room integrity test (RIT) is an essential fire safety evaluation and it is required for any Gas Fire Suppression System. This test measures the integrity of a room designed to contain a fire.
The procedure is used to determine if a room will hold effective concentration levels of fire retardant gases during the event of a fire. Essentially a room integrity test will establish how effective your gas fire suppression system is.
Room integrity tests are usually performed in buildings with high-risk areas such as data centres, server rooms, hospitals, or other facilities where valuable equipment, people, or sensitive information is stored.
What Is Room Integrity Testing?
Room integrity testing is a process of evaluating the ability of a room to maintain consistent pressure and prevent the spread of fire and smoke. It is commonly used in facilities such as data centres, power plants, and chemical plants to ensure the safety of people and equipment.
During a room integrity test, a technician will seal off all openings in the room, such as doors, windows, and vents. They will then introduce a controlled amount of smoke or other aerosols into the room and use a device to measure the rate at which the smoke is escaping. This measurement is known as the Leakage Index, and it determines the effectiveness of the room’s fire and smoke barriers.
The Leakage Index is calculated based on the volume of the room and the rate at which the smoke is escaping. A room with a low Leakage Index is considered to have good room integrity and is better able to contain the spread of fire and smoke. If the room fails the test, the technician can identify areas of weakness and recommend modifications to improve the room’s fire protection.
Room integrity testing is an important part of fire safety planning and is often required by building codes and regulations. By ensuring that rooms are able to withstand the effects of a fire, businesses can protect their assets and ensure the safety of their employees and customers.
What Kind Of Business Requires a Room Integrity Test In The UK?
In the UK, businesses that handle hazardous substances, such as data centres, server rooms, laboratories, cleanrooms, pharmaceuticals and healthcare facilities, typically require a room integrity test. This is to ensure that the room can maintain a specific pressure, and that it is adequately sealed to prevent the leakage of potentially hazardous substances.
A room integrity test is also required by the British Standard (BS) 9991:2015, which is the code of practice for fire safety in the design, management, and use of residential buildings. The standard specifies that any building with a protected lobby or staircase, which is also a means of escape from a residential building, should be tested for room integrity.
It’s important to note that the specific requirements for room integrity testing may vary depending on the industry and the particular hazardous substances being stored or processed. Therefore, it’s important to consult with relevant regulations and industry standards to determine whether your business requires a room integrity test.
What is the minimum retention time of a room integrity test in the UK?
In the UK, the minimum retention time of a room integrity test is typically specified by the British Standard BS ISO 14520-1:2015, which covers gaseous fire suppression systems.
According to this standard, the minimum retention time for a room integrity test in the UK is 10 minutes, during which the room must maintain a pressure of at least 25 Pa above atmospheric pressure. This is the same minimum retention time recommended by the NFPA 2001 standard commonly used in the United States.
However, it’s worth noting that different regulations or guidelines may apply in specific situations or industries, and the actual retention time required for a room integrity test may vary depending on the specific requirements and circumstances of the installation. It’s important to consult with a qualified fire safety professional to ensure that all relevant regulations and standards are being followed.
Does Room Integrity Testing Use Positive Pressure?
Room integrity testing is a process used to determine the ability of a room or enclosure to maintain a certain level of pressure in the event of a fire. The purpose of the testing is to ensure that the room or enclosure can maintain its pressure and prevent the spread of smoke and fire to adjacent areas.
Positive pressure testing can be used as a part of room integrity testing, but it is not always necessary or the only method used. Positive pressure testing involves pressurising the room or enclosure with air to a certain level, typically measured in Pascals, and then measuring how long it takes for the pressure to drop to a certain level. This can be used to determine the leakage rate.
Who Uses Gas Fire Protection Systems?
Gas fire protection systems are used to protect rooms whose contents are of high value and could be destroyed by water or other agents if a fire were put out with those materials, for example in an art gallery, data centre or museum.
Why is Room Integrity Testing Important?
A room with proper room integrity is vital to ensuring that fires are contained, and damage is minimised. These systems can help prevent the spread of fire, smoke and toxic gases to other parts of the building. If not properly secured, smoke and fire can result in extensive damage and loss of life.
Room integrity testing is also crucial for reducing the impact of fire on critical infrastructure and preserving sensitive information. By conducting room integrity tests, building owners can reduce the risk of damage to equipment, facilities and sensitive information.
How is Room Integrity Testing Conducted?
The room integrity testing process involves evaluating the tightness of the room’s walls, doors, and seals to ensure that the room can maintain its integrity when the fire suppression system is activated. Basically, we test for leakage.
The protected area is measured using specialised equipment. The agent information, along with any other relevant test data, is entered into the testing software.
When conducting our tests, we will pressurise and depressurise the room. We will measure to five values between 10 and 60 pascals on each run. Any differentials in pressure or airflow will be measured and again, entered into our testing software.
Our results data is presented to the engineer in two sets. Our first set will result in either a pass or fail and will reference the retention of the extinguishing agent. However, the second set of information relates to the Venting Analysis for the protected area. Venting Analysis refers to leakage data surrounding a room’s existing venting. This can cover both physical vents or natural leakage and measures positive and negative peak pressure forces. If the second part of this test fails then your room may require additional venting.
How Often Should Room Integrity Testing Be Conducted?
In the UK, the frequency of room integrity testing is typically determined by the relevant fire safety regulations or guidelines that apply to the specific building. The two most commonly used standards for room integrity testing are BS ISO 14520-1:2015 for gaseous fire suppression systems and BS EN 15004-1:2019 for compressed air foam systems.
BS ISO 14520-1:2015 states that room integrity testing should be conducted on gaseous fire suppression systems “at least every 12 months, or whenever modifications to the protected enclosure are made”. This means that if there are any changes to the room, such as the installation of new equipment, then a room integrity test should be conducted to ensure the effectiveness of the gaseous suppression system is not compromised.
BS EN 15004-1:2019 recommends that room integrity testing should be conducted on compressed air foam systems “at least every 12 months or whenever modifications to the protected enclosure are made”. This is consistent with the guidelines for gaseous fire suppression systems.
It’s important to note that these are minimum requirements, and in certain cases, it may be necessary to conduct room integrity testing more frequently. For example, if a room has experienced significant wear and tear, or if there have been significant changes to the layout or use of the space, it may be appropriate to conduct testing more frequently.
It’s always best to consult with a qualified fire safety professional to determine the appropriate testing frequency for your specific situation, taking into account the specific regulations or guidelines that apply to your building.
What Happens If The Room Integrity Test Fails?
If the room integrity test results in a failure then we will utilise our team of skilled engineers to identify any areas of leakage. After a full analysis has been completed, we will recommend that a Room Air-Sealing contractor is instructed to seal the room correctly.
Important to note, often our customers will opt to seal the room themselves. This may seem like a good idea, however, a lack of specialist knowledge may result in incorrect sealing products/methods which will result in another failed test. A frustrating situation for everyone involved.
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In conclusion, room integrity testing is an essential evaluation of the ability of a room to contain gas suppressants. Also, it is a critical step in ensuring the safety and security of people, equipment, and sensitive information in high-risk areas. However, building owners should conduct regular room integrity tests to ensure that their facilities meet the required standards and to minimise the risk of damage in the event of a fire. By taking the time to understand the importance of room integrity tests, building owners can ensure the safety and security of their facilities and the people and information they protect.