NFPA’s Revised 70E Standards Increase the Demands on Data Centers

The National Fire Safety Authority (NFPA) lists out standards related to fire safety. Data centers, which are always at risk from fire and related hazards, should pay attention to these standards laid down by NFPA in order to remain compliant and safe.

Data Center upgradesStandard for the Protection of Information Technology Equipment,” offers a detailed checklist on precautions to avert fire and what to do in case of a fire. However, several other NFPA standards are also applicable to data centers. Among them, NFPA 70 covers the “National Electric Code” and NFPA 70E covers electrical safety requirements for employees.

An important consideration with regards to NFPA standards is that it is not static. Data centers would not only have to ensure that they comply with the provisions of the code, they would also have to review the standards on a regular basis and make the necessary changes.
A case in point is the recent upgrade of NFPA 70E standards.

Data centers now have to create new arc flash hazard labels indicating: nominal system voltage, arc flash boundary and any one of Incident energy and corresponding working distance, minimum arc rating of clothing, required level of PPE or highest hazard/risk Category (HRC) for the equipment.
The upgraded standards mandate labeling of DC equipment for arc flash hazard. Before, it was possible to mark the labels with the default value for arc flash boundary provided in the NFEA 70E tables. But the revised 70E standards require that data centers calculate arc flash boundary for all locations where the voltage is greater than 50 volts and provide such calculated values in the label information.

The revised NFPA 70E also requires that only personnel with knowledge of the installation and hazards, and who are sufficiently trained work within the limited approach boundary of the arc, are hired. This comes with greater thrust on documentation and training. The meeting between employers and contractors to communicate the known hazards now have to be documented. Employees have to be retrained on the hazards every three years, and the training program itself is audited as well.

Electric arcs are hazards that can occur commonly in data centers. Personnel working on electrical equipment and not wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) run the risk of serious injury or death when an electrical arc occurs. The revised 70E pertaining to arc flash labeling and better training helps to increase awareness and therefore mitigate this risk.

Lifeline Data Centers is fully compliant and has trained staff that is up to date on fire safety data center standards. Get in touch with us today.

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