Houston Fire Suppression: Sprinklers vs. Clean Agents

clean agent cannisters for Houston fire suppression systems
Clean agent Houston fire suppression systems use cannisters of non-toxic gases to control and extinguish fires.

Houston fire suppression systems help fight fires to protect people and property. They are means to help contain, reduce, or even extinguish building fires. There are many different types of fire suppression systems, but two of the most common kinds are sprinkler systems and clean agent gas systems. Many commercial and industrial buildings today can benefit from clean agent fire suppression. Our specialists can help you determine which fire safety solutions are right for your facility. In this article, we will explore why clean agents might be right for your fire suppression needs.

Houston Fire Suppression Options for Commercial and Industrial Buildings

While fire alarm systems help inform everyone in your building there is a fire, fire suppression systems aim to reduce, control, or extinguish flames. This is important for giving people in your building time to evacuate, buying time for firefighters to arrive, and also reducing how much damage occurs due to the fire. While there are a few ways to achieve this, the two most common options businesses use are either fire sprinklers and clean agent systems. 


Sprinkler systems use water to fight fire. Water absorbs some heat from the fire and also helps starve the flames from oxygen to help suppress and extinguish fires. These systems are traditional and often the default for many buildings. Practically all commercial and industrial buildings must have at least fire sprinklers as part of fire and life safety codes. These systems are inexpensive, but do come with some disadvantages, including downtime and expense associated with water damage after sprinkler systems initiate. 

Clean Agent Houston Fire Suppression

Clean agent Houston fire suppression systems are an alternative to fire sprinklers. These systems use special gases, rather than water, to control and extinguish fires. Clean agents are non-toxic and also don’t leave any residue or chemicals that require extensive cleanup or damage sensitive equipment. While up front costs for clean agent fire suppression systems are typically more than fire sprinkler installation, they help protect your company’s assets and reduce downtime after a fire by using substances that minimize damage while effectively fighting fires. Therefore, clean agent systems may be better for some businesses compared to water sprinklers. 

Why Choose Clean Agent Houston Fire Suppression?

There are many reasons facilities choose clean agent fire suppression systems. These lifesafety solutions offer many benefits for many types of buildings. Of course, it’s important to talk to a fire and life safety expert about the right options for your building, but here are a few commonly cited reasons why building owners choose clean agent systems over fire sprinklers.

Protecting Water-Sensitive Assets

One of the main reasons facilities choose waterless clean agent systems instead of fire sprinklers is because of high value, water-sensitive assets. For instance, electronics, telecommunication equipment, paper documents, artwork, and priceless artifacts. In many cases, water-based fire suppression can damage these items beyond repair. This can create large replacement expenses and can also increase downtime for your business between a fire and re-opening. Clean agent systems help you avoid these issues because they aren’t damaging or corrosive to sensitive equipment or objects. 

Fast-Acting Houston Fire Suppression

In some cases, clean agent systems can offer faster-acting Houston fire suppression. Many fire sprinklers rely on heat-sensitive systems inside the sprinkler head to initiate. For most sprinklers, temperatures need to reach 155°F. However, clean agent systems typically rely on fire detectors similar to those in fire alarm systems, such as smoke detectors. Depending on the system, this means that clean agent systems may initiate faster. In many cases, these systems reach fire extinguishing levels within just ten seconds. 

Facilities that May Benefit from Clean Agent Houston Fire Suppression

As we have mentioned, there are no one-size-fits-all solutions for Houston fire suppression. Since clean agent systems typically involve extra storage space and higher up front costs, it makes sense that not all facilities need or can benefit from clean agent systems. In most cases, facilities that choose these systems have assets that can be irreparably damaged by water sprinklers and that are difficult or expensive to replace. Some facilities that may benefit from clean agent fire suppression include:

  • Data Centers
  • Laboratories
  • Chemical plants
  • Printing companies 
  • Antiques stores
  • Libraries
  • Art Galleries
  • Museums

Common Clean Agents for Houston Fire Suppression

When it comes to clean agent systems, there are many types of gases to choose from for your fire suppression needs. For instance, we work with systems that use FM-200, Novec 1230, and Ecaro-25. In many cases, one may work better for your facility than another. Each type of clean agent has pros and cons, so keep this in mind as you consider different fire suppression systems for your facilities. 


FM-200 is a type of clean agent you can choose for your Houston fire suppression systems. This clean agent is made up of several inert gases, including carbon, fluorine, and hydrogen. It is effective at extinguishing building fires without damaging water-sensitive equipment and materials. FM-200 is non-toxic and doesn’t leave behind any residue for minimal cleanup. These clean agent systems often require fewer cylinders to suppress and control fires, meaning they may require less storage space compared to Novec 1230 systems. However, keep in mind that FM-200 may be less environmentally-friendly than Novec 1230. While both are fine for the ozone layer, this clean agent has a higher global warming potential rating.

Novec 1230

Novec 1230 is another type of clean agent you can choose for your building’s fire suppression needs. It is made up of a mix of carbon, fluorine, and oxygen, which absorbs heat to reduce flames. This option, too, is non-toxic and doesn’t leave behind any residue that requires extensive cleanup procedures. Compared to FM-200, Novec 1230 has a lower global warming potential rating, which means it may be better for the environment. However, these systems may need more storage space because they often require more cylinders to fight fires. Also, these systems can cost a little more than FM-200 clean agent systems to install.


Ecaro-25 is a clean agent gas made up of carbon, fluorine, and hydrogen to absorb heat from flames. It is similar to FM-200, but may require less gas to control or suppress a fire compared to this type of clean agent system. This may help reduce the price for these systems and also reduce the storage space needed for clean agent cylinders. Our experts can help you determine which type of clean agent is right for your facility based on your needs and budget. 

Fire Alarm Systems and Lifesafety Solutions from Wilson Fire Equipment

At Wilson Fire Equipment, we are your one source for all your fire, life safety, and security needs. We are a family owned and operated company and have been helping businesses since 1916. Our experts design, install, service, and monitor your systems to help you protect your people and property. Get in touch now to get a quote for custom-designed life safety and security systems for your building.