Fire Proofing Your Data Center
Can you imagine the dollar loss (regardless of opportunity, business and productivity) that will result if your data center caught fire? Although it is hard to say, a data center disaster like that could very well be the end of your business unless you are well insured and well protected. 64% of fires in commercial premises were due to climate control and power equipment, the very two things that are of prime importance to a data center's operation. Why take that risk when you can take preventive measures instead to fire proofing your data center?
When selecting a data center, you should check the vendors on the NFPA 75 (National Fire Protection Association) standard compliance. This standard specially refers to requirements for fire-proof Information Technology Equipment and defines fire suppression options for data centers.
Water is the primary fire suppression agent that is used in many data centers and it is prudent to visit a data center to inspect it for the presence of water sprinkler systems – in the building and also in the server rooms. However, water can also cause further damage to computer systems and hence other alternatives need to be considered. Pre-action systems, Double interlocking dry pipe systems, keep the sprinkler pipes dry during normal operations.
Some data centers prefer to use a gaseous cleaning agent such as halon, which needs to be at an optimal concentration level to avoid risk to humans. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has created the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP)3 to evaluate safe alternatives for halon. Safer alternatives use inert gas fire suppression that reduces the oxygen level of the area so as to stop further combustion in case of a fire. The data center has to be designed with automatic vending in this case so as to prevent pressure build up.
The next time you visit a data center for inspection, do consider the above aspects to be assured of a secure, fire proofed home for your data.