SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — A collaborative research project evaluating the effect of high volume, low speed (HVLS) commercial fans on the effectiveness of automatic sprinklers has been awarded the 2012 Fire Protection Research Foundation Medal. The research showed that these fans do not impact the performance of sprinkler systems.

Awarded by the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Research Foundation, the project, “High Volume/Low Speed Fans and Sprinkler Operation,” was a collaborative effort between HVLS manufacturers and insurer sponsors. Project participants included HVLS manufacturers MacroAir, Big Ass Fans, and Rite-Hite Fans; insurer sponsors included CNA Insurance, FM Global, Liberty Mutual, Travelers Insurance, Zurich Insurance, and XL Group. The medal was accepted during the NFPA Annual Conference by AON Fire Protection Engineering, which served as project contractor on behalf of the team. Industrial ceiling fans from Macro Air as well as the other above manufacturers provide both the reduction of carbon footprint and reduce operating costs.

The two-part study provided direct input to update NFPA Standard 13, titled Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems, and concluded that HVLS fans, when installed in accordance with NFPA 13 requirements, do not impact the performance of ESFR (early suppression, fast response) and CMDA (control mode density area) sprinkler systems.

“This project is an excellent example of industry collaboration to support research to address the incorporation of new technology into NFPA codes and standards,” said Kathleen Almand, executive director of the Fire Protection Research Foundation.

The research project was conducted in two phases between 2008 and 2010 with numerous scenarios testing installation spacing, speed, and other variables of HVLS fan operation on both ESFR and CMDA sprinkler systems upon fires started within rack storage and palletized commodities.

The project is the first collaborative industry research effort to offer an evaluation of HVLS fan interaction on sprinkler effectiveness, as well as directly contribute to NFPA code and standards documentation intended to minimize the possibility and effects of fire and other risks.

“From the beginning of this project, we recognized the significance the research outcome would have on our industry and the importance of our participation, both in the form of our product and knowledge base,” said Eddie Boyd, president of MacroAir. “We were confident in the performance of the MacroAir HVLS fan tested alongside the sprinkler systems. This is a great step forward for our relatively young industry, and our company is committed to participating in future collaborative efforts that strengthen and position HVLS fans as a safe, effective, and cost-saving HVAC solution.”

For more information about NFPA Standard 13 and the “High Volume/Low Speed Fans and Sprinkler Operation” Phase I and II research findings, visit

Publication date: 10/1/2012