If you’re a general contractor, and your job is to provide fire protection to valuable equipment such as data centers, computer servers and computer rooms, then this post will help you understand why there is no definite price per square foot for a clean agent fire protection system.

First, we need to understand how a clean agent system works, and how this will throw a wrench into how much the system will cost.

How does a clean agent system work?

A clean agent fire protection system works by releasing a gas into an area (with the aim of reducing the amount of oxygen at the heat source.)

Fire needs three elements to burn: heat, fuel and oxygen. By removing any one of these, the fire will not burn.

So, once a computer room starts sending signals of a fire (usually from smoke), the smoke detector will signal an alert for the clean agent system to start releasing its gas, which will eliminate the oxygen the fire needs to burn. The reason a computer room would use a clean agent system as opposed to a water-based system, is that water will damage the electronics.

So now the question is, how much clean agent will I need for the system to work? And how much will it cost?

How much clean agent will you need?

Very different than a fire sprinkler system, where all you worry about is how much floor space you need to cover, the amount of clean agent you will need is determined by volume, not by area. But just because your computer room is 20×20 ft., doesn’t mean you need enough clean agent for 400 sq. ft.

There are plenty of variables that will determine the price of your clean agent system.

What variables will determine the price for a clean agent system?

1) Sub-Floor

If there is a sub-floor, the height is added to room in factoring the total volume for agent calculation.  Additional detection devices are installed in the subfloor, typically matching the ceiling layout.

2) Ceiling Void

If there’s a space above a ceiling void being used as a return air path (without duct work), additional agent and detection are required.

3) Doors

The number of doors affects the area because you must account for additional manual pull stations and abort switches, which not only includes cost in equipment, but also cost in labor for installation.

4) Dampers

Are dampers controlled off of releasing panels with relays? If so, dampers must close shut at discharge to maintain the integrity of the agent per volume.

5) Ceiling Height

This dimension is part of the overall volume calculation.  If the ceiling height increases, more agent is needed.  If it decreases, you may be over concentrating from your original calculation.


One of the most asked questions our special hazard technicians get is “how much per square foot is a clean agent system?” After this post, I hope it’s clear there is no definite price per foot for a clean agent fire protection system. There are just too many variables that can apply.