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Safeguarding tomorrow with the Fire Suppression Systems Association

February 26, 2024

An exploration of the Fire Suppression Systems Association’s efforts in advancing fire suppression technology for improved safety and environmental stewardship

The Fire Suppression Systems Association (FSSA) is an essential organization in the fire protection industry, dedicated to advancing the technology and effectiveness of fire suppression systems.

As a not-for-profit trade association, FSSA brings together a diverse range of professionals including designers, installers, manufacturers, consultants, academics, and suppliers both domestically and internationally.

The combine expertise of members fosters a collaborative environment where innovative ideas and strategies are shared for the benefit of the fire suppression systems industry.

FSSA’s commitment to safety, reliability, and effectiveness in the realm of special hazards fire suppression is unwavering.

Special hazards environments, such as power plants, data centers, and industrial facilities, require specialized fire protection solutions due to their unique risks.

FSSA plays a key role in ensuring that these environments are equipped with the most advanced and reliable fire suppression systems – essential for both protecting property and investments and for safeguarding lives.

In addition to fostering industry collaboration, FSSA is actively involved in education and training.

Their comprehensive Online Training Program is designed to educate and train personnel within the fire suppression industry, ensuring that they are well-versed in the latest products, procedures, practices, and systems.

This commitment to education underscores the Association’s dedication to elevating industry standards and enhancing the overall quality and safety of fire suppression systems.

FSSA also contributes to industry standards and regulations through their involvement in technical committees and representation in the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

Their technical publications, crafted by experts, aim to improve the efficiency and safety of individuals in the industry, offering invaluable resources for field technicians.

The association’s proactive approach to addressing emerging challenges is exemplified by their formation of the PFAS Task Force following their 2023 Annual Forum.

This task force focuses on the science and regulatory aspects of PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in firefighting foams, demonstrating FSSA’s commitment to environmental stewardship and public health in addition to fire safety.

The Fire Suppression Systems Association is among those standing as a cornerstone in the fire protection industry, driving innovation, education, and collaboration.

Their work in advancing the safety and effectiveness of fire suppression systems, particularly in special hazards environments, is essential for protecting both lives and property.

Through their educational initiatives, technical expertise, and proactive approach to industry challenges, FSSA continues to play an indispensable role in shaping the future of fire suppression.

Brenton Harris, Protectowire’s VP of Sales and Marketing, is currently serving as the President of the Fire Suppression Systems Association (FSSA).

In this exclusive interview, FSJA sat down with Harris to discuss Protectowire’s contributions to fire safety, the future of fire suppression technology, and his role as FSSA President.

What are some of the innovative solutions that Protectowire has brought to the fire suppression industry?

Like many of us, I have been in the fire industry my whole life, specifically, in the specialty detection portion of the fire industry.

After graduate school I took a position with System Sensor based in Xi’an, China.

For the next decade I focused on a variety of specialty detection devices with advances in smoke and heat detection.

Ultimately, when I was ready to return home, I found a position at Protectowire and returned to the United States.

Protectowire was a FSSA member company so naturally I got more involved with the association and that lead to my role today.

What role does Protectowire play in promoting education and awareness within the fire suppression industry?

Protectowire started in 1938 and has brought a variety of products to the special hazard fire detection market, most notably, our Confirmed Temperature Initiation technology.

This thermocouple based digital linear heat detector is ideally suited to be the detection portion of a suppression system.

Mechanical damage to our CTI technology will not cause a false alarm. The detector requires heat confirmation to initiate an alarm condition. This prevents nuisance alarms, further preventing unwanted suppression system discharges.

We are a global company (we sell into 100+ countries around the world). Our team is constantly promoting and educating our industry. We do this through a mix of in-person and virtual events.

We participate in a variety of different industry associations (both regional and global), we participate in NFPA code meetings, and other regulatory bodies both directly and indirectly (through our local distribution partners).

Can you share some insights into the latest trends and technologies that are shaping the fire suppression industry?

The most notable trend relating to the Fire Suppression Industry currently is how international governing bodies interpret the impact of clean agents (synthetics like FK’s – fluorinated ketones – and HFC’s – hydrofluorocarbons) on their environments.

There is a lot of misinformation and oversimplification that has led to confusion about how these products exist in our environment.

Often, they are broadly lumped in with PFAS on global discussions.

More care should be demonstrated to assure everyone is using consistent language in our global conversations.

At the FSSA we have been working hard to educate the market and responsible parties about the science surrounding these suppression agents.

What is the future of fire suppression technology concerning environmental sustainability and regulation?

A science-based understanding of clean agents’ roles in fire suppression is vital. I foresee advancements in inert systems, water mist, aerosols, and other technologies.

As FSSA President, what are your top priorities and objectives to enhance collaboration and innovation within the fire suppression community?

As the Covid-19 pandemic is winding down, we at the FSSA have started a global outreach committee.

The intent of this committee within our association is to increase industry knowledge sharing, education, and best practices to bring together the global fire suppression community.

Historically we have always had a strong relationship with the Fire Industry Association (FIA in the UK).

In the last several months, we have signed an MOE – memorandum of understanding – with Euralarm and the Fire Suppression Association India (FSAI).

We are currently working toward another MOE with Fire Protection Australia (FPA).

We are hopeful these recently forged relationships will bring the global fire suppression industry closer together.

What challenges do you see the fire suppression industry facing in the coming years?

In my opinion, future challenges to the fire suppression industry will always exist.

We will always have the latest fire suppression challenges when an emerging application is the target of our industry.

Within the last few years, BESS (battery energy storage systems) has been a hot topic.

These challenges will present themselves until the correct product portfolio is found and an effective detection and suppression solution is implemented – that is the nature of our industry.

What I often think about is how we can foster or assist regulation to be as current as possible.

Markets and industries move faster than codes and regulations.

We, collectively, need to find a means to have our fire codes meet the fast-paced nature of industry.

In your perspective, how can the industry better work together to ensure the highest levels of safety, quality, and effectiveness in fire suppression systems?

This is a great question. I believe the fire detection and suppression industry can work together to make our markets safer and our solutions more effective.

This starts with education and knowing how to apply the correct product for the right application.

Having the wrong style detector will lead to nuisance alarms or even worse, potential failure to alarm.

Having the wrong or an inadequate suppression system could make suppressing a fire impossible.

Lastly, what message would you like to convey to the designers, installers, consultants, and other stakeholders within the fire suppression systems industry regarding the future and the importance of being part of an organisation like FSSA?

I would invite anyone who is passionate about fire detection and suppression to join the FSSA.

With more than 4 decades of history, we have a wealth of knowledge regarding the special hazards industry.

Specific to the FSSA membership, you will receive an invitation to the FSSA Annual Forum, access to our newsletters, discounts on our publications (application guides), and complimentary access to our online training program.

Our meetings focus on networking, collaboration, sharing best practices, and discussing the most relevant topics and trends within the fire suppression industry.

This article was originally published in the February 2024 issue of Fire & Safety Journal Americas. To read your FREE digital copy, click here.

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