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?
Fire Proofing Your Data CenterWhen 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.

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