Fire Suppression

– Mariel Norton, spokesperson for GEIST, says:

With fires posing one of the biggest threats to data centers, it’s imperative that these types of facilities employ an effective fire suppression strategy to limit the extent of devastation that can be caused by fires. Whilst it’s not completely possible to prevent a fire, it is however possible to minimise the damage that can be inflicted by a fire – which is why when implementing a disaster recovery plan, IT managers will prioritise fires at the top of their DR list; categorising the different types of fires as well as the suppression system options that go with each hazard.

Fire classification

To tackle a particular type of fire, it’s important to recognise what each fire is capable of – so as to tailor the suppression system that will best tackle the risk in question. The common five fire classes are:

  • Class A: Fire with the fuel source being combustible materials such as: cloth, paper, rubber, wood and the majority of plastics
  • Class B: Fire found in flammable liquids, flammable gases, greases, oils, oil-base paints and tar
  • Class C: Fire associated with electrical equipment
  • Class D: Fire with the fuel source being ignitable materials
  • Class K: Fire with the fuel source being cooking materials such as fat and oil.

Fire suppression strategies

Upon a fire taking place in the data center, reacting quickly is the best course of action – with the following proving the best types of fire suppression systems:

  • Water sprinklers. The most popular type of suppression, these are generally found in server rooms (due to server rooms being designed in existing office space already kitted with water sprinklers). Low cost and effective (upon activation, will suppress fire until shut off), however, this strategy is only applicable to Class A fires – and involves a significant amount of cleaning up (as well as potential water damage to IT infrastructure).
  • Gaseous agent fire suppression solution. Adopted as an intelligent system thanks to its combination approach of pre-action tools as well as a ‘clean’ gaseous agent to put out fires, this type of fire suppression system is often stored in tanks, with the gas then piped to the affected areas and distributed through specially designed overhead nozzles. Extremely effective in suppressing Class A, B and C fires, it’s a favourite amongst data centers thanks to its minimal damage to IT equipment. But there are concerns that it could be harmful to people and the environment, and can be much more costly than a standard water sprinkler system.
  • Emergency power off (EPO). Should a water sprinkler system be used, you may need to fit an EPO switch in your facility so as to make sure no IT equipment is powered on in case water is present.
  • Halon replacement gas agents. There’s a huge selection of alternatives for the replacement of Halon fire suppression strategies – and with no recognised harmful effects on both people and the environment, makes this a safe choice. Yet it comes at a price, and is much more expensive than a water sprinkler solution – with fire suppression availability restricted to the amount of gas agent stored for the size of the designated room.

While every data center regardless should employ a disaster recovery plan, choosing the relevant fire suppression system will certainly limit the damage a fire can have on your data center – as well as your business.

With fires posing one of the biggest threats to data centers, it’s imperative that these types of facilities employ an effective fire suppression strategy to limit the extent of devastation that can be caused by fires. Whilst it’s not completely possible to prevent a fire, it is however possible to minimise the damage that can be inflicted by a fire – which is why when implementing a disaster recovery plan, IT managers will prioritise fires at the top of their DR list; categorising the different types of fires as well as the suppression system options that go with each hazard.

Fire classification

To tackle a particular type of fire, it’s important to recognise what each fire is capable of – so as to tailor the suppression system that will best tackle the risk in question. The common five fire classes are:

  • Class A: Fire with the fuel source being combustible materials such as: cloth, paper, rubber, wood and the majority of plastics
  • Class B: Fire found in flammable liquids, flammable gases, greases, oils, oil-base paints and tar
  • Class C: Fire associated with electrical equipment
  • Class D: Fire with the fuel source being ignitable materials
  • Class K: Fire with the fuel source being cooking materials such as fat and oil.

Fire suppression strategies

Upon a fire taking place in the data center, reacting quickly is the best course of action – with the following proving the best types of fire suppression systems:

  • Water sprinklers. The most popular type of suppression, these are generally found in server rooms (due to server rooms being designed in existing office space already kitted with water sprinklers). Low cost and effective (upon activation, will suppress fire until shut off), however, this strategy is only applicable to Class A fires – and involves a significant amount of cleaning up (as well as potential water damage to IT infrastructure).
  • Gaseous agent fire suppression solution. Adopted as an intelligent system thanks to its combination approach of pre-action tools as well as a ‘clean’ gaseous agent to put out fires, this type of fire suppression system is often stored in tanks, with the gas then piped to the affected areas and distributed through specially designed overhead nozzles. Extremely effective in suppressing Class A, B and C fires, it’s a favourite amongst data centers thanks to its minimal damage to IT equipment. But there are concerns that it could be harmful to people and the environment, and can be much more costly than a standard water sprinkler system.
  • Emergency power off (EPO). Should a water sprinkler system be used, you may need to fit an EPO switch in your facility so as to make sure no IT equipment is powered on in case water is present.
  • Halon replacement gas agents. There’s a huge selection of alternatives for the replacement of Halon fire suppression strategies – and with no recognised harmful effects on both people and the environment, makes this a safe choice. Yet it comes at a price, and is much more expensive than a water sprinkler solution – with fire suppression availability restricted to the amount of gas agent stored for the size of the designated room.

While every data center regardless should employ a disaster recovery plan, choosing the relevant fire suppression system will certainly limit the damage a fire can have on your data center – as well as your business.

Mariel Norton has over 10 years’ experience writing for a range of industries, and is currently a copywriter for a digital marketing agency.

This article was written on behalf of Geist.

For more from Geist visit: http://www.geistglobal.com/

 

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