Server Room Fire Protection
Server rooms are vitally important to the operations and business functions of any company. They form the backbone of a company’s IT infrastructure, with expensive hardware and servers that store critical business information.
A server room fire can have devastating consequences to a business, resulting in costly business interruptions and permanent loss of valuable data and information. Taking steps to protect your server room from fire not only protects IT equipment, it helps safeguard your entire business.
In reviewing the importance of server room fire protection we will look into the causes of fires in server rooms, prevention measures for server room fires, and the types of fire suppression systems for server rooms.
Causes Of Fires In Server Rooms
The most common causes of fires in server rooms and data centres include:
Electrical Failure of IT Equipment
Server rooms contain extensive cabling and equipment, posing electrical fire risks from defective equipment. Server room fires are often caused by overloading plug sockets that draw large amounts of power, as well as short circuiting of electrical components such as switches or power inverters.
Overheating electronics is another common cause of server room fires, especially within high density racks and server cabinets. In conditions where cooling systems fail or there is inadequate ventilation in the room, electrical components overheat to become a potential ignition source for fires.
Subfloor Wiring Malfunctions
Raised subfloors found in server rooms contain an extensive network of wires and cabling. Faulty wiring in subfloors results in a number of issues, such as overheating or sparks that can cause fires to ignite.
Fire That Ignite In Nearby Rooms
Server room walls often have many holes and conduits for cables to pass into adjoining rooms and offices, making them more vulnerable to fires that ignite nearby. The wall and ceiling cable penetrations found in server rooms offer access points for fires from other rooms to spread.
Dirt & Grease Build-Up
The cooling fans and other equipment used in server rooms often attract dust that can build-up to cause insulation and overheating of electrical components. Once a fire ignites, the accumulated dust offers another source of fuel for the fire to burn.
Prevention Of Server Room Fires
Most server room fires are easily preventable, with several ways to minimise the chances of a fire occurring. These fire prevention measures will help keep server rooms and data centres safe from fires.
Facility Risk Assessment
A professional fire risk assessment is the first step in preventing a server room fire. Qualified fire protection specialists are able to conduct thorough risk assessments according to all relevant fire safety codes and standards, such as the NFPA 75 Standard for the Fire Protection of Information Technology Equipment.
Fire risk assessments are required to be carried out when designing a new server room, and must be updated whenever the server room changes in any way.
Keep Server Rooms Clean & Well-Maintained
Keeping your server room clean, clutter free, and well maintained can help prevent fires from starting. Regularly cleaning IT equipment helps remove the build-up of dust and debris which is important as a dust accumulation can lead to equipment overheating, as well as the potential to act as a fuel source for any fire.
Maintain a tidy environment by keeping rooms free of any unwanted materials and using structured cabling systems. Never use server rooms as unofficial storage rooms as adding more combustible materials in the room increases the chances of a fire igniting and spreading.
Ensure Proper Ventilation
Server rooms must be well ventilated as cooling the room sufficiently is an effective way to prevent equipment and server racks from catching fire.
Proper ventilation ensures the room does not reach high temperatures, which prevents equipment from overheating and therefore contributes towards lowering fire risks within the room.
Install a Suitable Fire Suppression System
Fire suppression systems are able to respond and suppress fires quickly and efficiently. They can be installed in server rooms and integrated into server racks, and are triggered when the integrated smoke detectors detect a fire.
Clean agent fire suppression systems provide great fire protection for server rooms as they limit the amount of damage to computer equipment and require little to no clean-up after discharge.
Types Of Fire Suppression Systems For Server Rooms
Clean agent fire suppression systems are generally a more suitable data centre fire protection solution than traditional water sprinkler systems. Water-based fire suppression systems, such as overhead sprinkler systems, often cause water damage to the electronic equipment that they intended to protect.
Clean agent fire suppression systems are a more suitable option for server rooms as they are discharged as a gas to extinguish fires without causing further damage to computer equipment. FST offers various clean agent fire suppression systems for server rooms, including inert gas systems and chemical agent systems.
Inert Gas Systems
Inert gas fire suppression systems consist of a mixture of three naturally occurring atmospheric gases – Nitrogen, Argon, and Carbon Dioxide. These systems work by discharging a gas agent that lowers the oxygen content in a room to a level low enough to suppress a fire, but high enough to support human breathing.
FST provides Inergen® IG-541 fire suppression systems that stores a blend of inert gases (Nitrogen, Argon, and Carbon Dioxide) as an extinguishing agent.
Chemical Agent Systems
Chemical agent fire suppression systems make use of manufactured chemicals to extinguish a fire. These systems work by discharging a chemical-based agent to absorb the heat from a fire.
Two of the most widely used chemical agents for fire suppression systems are HFC-227ea and FK-5-1-12. FST provides various fire suppression systems including Eckoshield® 227ea that stores HFC-227ea as an extinguishing agent, and Eckoshield® 1230 that stores FK-5-1-12 as an extinguishing agent.
FST Server Room Fire Protection
Data centres host a wide range of servers, electronics and equipment, making these facilities vulnerable to electrical fires. FST supplies both inert gas and chemical agent fire suppression systems for server rooms.
Contact us for professional advice on fire protection and prevention solutions for server rooms. Our team of experts will assist in finding the most suitable server room fire system designed to protect your facility.