ABOUT SAPPHIRE: The SAPPHIRE Suppression System consists of sensors that detect hot particles before they are able to ignite a large fire. It deploys a chemical agent to stop the combustion. The system is stored in tanks and deployed through a ceiling mounted system that looks like an ordinary office sprinkler. The fluid dispensed through them is colorless, odorless, and when released into the air, it vaporizes. The vapors suffocate burgeoning fires by keeping oxygen away from the flames, removing a necessary component from blaze before damage can be done. Because the system contains no water it does not cause water damage, making it attractive to museums and other archives.
ABOUT FIRE: The ancient Greeks considered fire to be one of the major elements in the universe, along with water, earth and air. But fire isn't really matter. It is a side effect from a chemical reaction between oxygen in the atmosphere and a fuel like wood or gasoline. Extreme heat is needed to raise the fuel to a high enough temperature for it to ignite. Fire is dangerous because the chemical reactions that cause it keep it going. The heat of the flame keeps the fuel at ignition temperature, so it will burn as long as there is fuel and oxygen. To extinguish a fire, you need to remove heat, oxygen, or fuel. Fire extinguishers can either remove heat by dumping water on the fire, or remove oxygen by smothering the fire with carbon dioxide or a dry chemical foam or powder containing baking soda. Baking soda will start to decompose from the heat of a fire and release carbon dioxide to smother the flames.
The information contained in the TV portion of this report was written with support from the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, Inc.