2020-01-24 - ESS Brand Fire Systems
As of January 1st, 2020 all fire suppression systems must be SFI or FIA certified and inspected every two years. This involves emptying the bottle and refilling it with the proper suppression material to manufacturer specs. Upon completion, a new foil decal is placed on the bottle stating it has been refilled and the date at which service was completed. A current list of SFI and FIA compliant systems can be found here:
One manufacturer of fire suppression systems is ESS. They produce a unique system that uses a non-pressurized bottle. The system relies upon a replaceable CO2 cartridge to propel the fire suppressant out of the bottle when the release lever is pulled. Due to this design, the end-user can replace the AFFF liquid and CO2 cartridge on their own at home or the track. ESS sells recharge kits that include all necessary components to do the job.
The ESS system is not currently listed as an SFI or FIA compliant system, however, during our research we discovered that it at one point it was. Also, ESS still lists their system as SFI 17.1 compliant on their website. Section 3.5 of SFI 17.1 states that cylinders that do not store pressure are exempt from meeting DOT or ISO specifications. Due to the discrepancy between the SFI and ESS websites, and SFI’s own statement that non-pressurized cylinders are not required to be certified, we will be temporarily allowing the ESS system until we can get clear answers from both ESS and SFI.
In the meantime, it is advised that anyone in the market for a fire suppression system refrain from purchasing a new ESS fire suppression system and instead look for one from a company on the list of SFI or FIA certified systems like Lifeline. Teams that currently own an ESS fire suppression system will need to show us their receipt for the purchase of a refill kit within the last 12 months. Furthermore, teams running the ESS system should be prepared to verify the readiness of their system in tech via the following procedure:
1. Remove the CO2 cartridge by unscrewing it from the actuator. A good cartridge is NOT punctured.
2.Have the driver or crew:
a. Safety pin the actuator
b. Disconnect the discharge lines
c. Unhook the actuation cable
d. Remove the cylinder from the t-bolt brackets
3. Weigh the cylinder. The weight is listed on the label.
i. 2.3 liter = 7lbs. 10 oz.
ii. 5.0 liter = 16 lbs. 2. oz.
4. After re-installation verify that the actuator pin and pull cable pin are removed before going on track.
Once we have clear answers from ESS and SFI we will issue an update on whether or not these ESS systems will be permanently allowed in the future or if they will all need to be replaced with another system from the published list of SFI and FIA compliant systems.