Beyond Sprinklers and Smoke Detectors: The NFPA Codes for Data Centers

Disasters such as fire, flood, storm, lightning or even sabotage can happen anywhere at any time and with no warning. Fortunately, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) prescribes codes for fire safety and protection. It is compulsory to adhere to these codes, and failing to do so could attract government penalties. In the context of data centers, some of the codes applicable are:

Beyond Sprinklers and Smoke Detectors: The NFPA Codes for Data CentersNFPA 70E: Electrical Safety in the Workplace.

NFPA 72: Automatic fire detection and signaling system.

NFPA 75: Protection of IT equipment (servers, storage, cables, cooling equipment, power) and its adjoining areas.

NFPA 76: Fire protection for public telecom services (land-line/mobile phone, data communication, internet, VoIP and audio/video transmission).

Some of the activities prescribed by the code include:

1.       Classification of data into one of the following: Vital, Master or Important. This represents the criticality of the data being stored at the data center.

2.       Isolating your data center from the rest of the building or creating a fire proof silo. This includes finding materials, air ducts, and smoke dampeners that will protect your data center.

3.       Isolation for IT equipment (NFPA 75) and Communication equipment (NFPA 76).

4.       Assessing the possible risk in case data and communication lines are lost and the minimum time needed to restore it.

5.       Mitigating the risk using redundancy, alternative center, and a quick recovery plan.

6.       Early detection systems in which the air flow in the air ducts are analyzed for possible threats.

Article 708: Critical Operations Power System

Systems that come under national security, economy, public health and safety have to be available at all times. If your data center supports any of these systems, then the criticality is much higher.

The continuous changing nature of IT and related equipment, advances in communication along with increasing criticality of data makes it challenging to comply with these codes. Also, NFPA regularly revises them based on changing needs, especially in construction and newer experiences. To be assured of a data center that regularly monitors itself for its adherence to NFPA codes, learn more about now.

Alex Carroll

Alex Carroll

Managing Member at Lifeline Data Centers
Alex, co-owner, is responsible for all real estate, construction and mission critical facilities: hardened buildings, power systems, cooling systems, fire suppression, and environmentals. Alex also manages relationships with the telecommunications providers and has an extensive background in IT infrastructure support, database administration and software design and development. Alex architected Lifeline’s proprietary GRCA system and is hands-on every day in the data center.
Alex Carroll