Fire Detection & Suppression
Safe data centers are the indispensable backbone of today’s highly engineered society. They are processing an ever-increasing quantity of videos, voice and data throughout a global network of several billion devices. Applications such as social media, cloud computing, online banking and e-healthcare solutions impact our life everyday. In today’s world, no one can afford not to be connected.
There are numerous detection approaches available for use within data centers to provide early warning of a fire. The inherent criticality and essential nature of the equipment in data centers will often dictate the detection approach. Detection strategies typically include spot-type smoke detectors, air-aspirating smoke detectors (e.g., smoke sampling chamber with a sampling tube network), or a combination thereof. As with any approach, there are advantages and disadvantages to these strategies. The data center design and stakeholder goals help to guide the detection design.
Spot-type smoke detectors are a very common smoke detection strategy used in data centers. They are often an inexpensive and simple solution. There are two primary forms of spot-type smoke detection: ionization-based detectors and photoelectric smoke detectors. Newer types of intelligent, spot-type detection technologies use built-in algorithms with multiple sensors or multi-criteria to adapt to their environment and minimize the likelihood of false alarms.
Cross-zoned smoke detection is typically the preferred strategy when utilizing spot-type detectors in data centers. This design relies upon the activation of two alarms before subsequent action, such as opening of a pre-action valve or clean agent discharge. A cross-zoned strategy minimizes the potential for an unwarranted discharge of a fire suppression system. The initial detector can provide a warning to operators and staff within the data center. The need for two separate detectors to activate, however, results in activation delay. This delay may compromise property protection and business continuity goals.
Air-aspirating or air-sampling detection is becoming increasingly popular in data center applications. This type of detection is known for its ability to detect a fire in its incipient stages and therefore provide earlier warning and faster response time than traditional detection. Similar to intelligent spot-type detectors, air-aspirating detection has the ability to detect a fire at differing smoke obscuration thresholds and can therefore provide multiple warning levels.
Many data centers employ a pressurized raised floor to provide cold air to IT equipment and an above-ceiling area as a hot air return. Codes require detectors under the floor or above the ceiling where HVAC piping, electrical feeders, or IT cables are placed within these plenum spaces. Due to the potential for fires to originate within these spaces, detection is usually warranted within these areas.
Fire alarm systems need to be monitored. Monitoring alerts authorities of potential deadly fires but can also alert operators during the early incipient stage of a fire. For very small fires, such as an overheated wire, operators can quickly locate the incident and take action. Early intervention can significantly reduce the impact of the incident and may help eliminate downtime, depending on equipment redundancy.
Facility managers have a range of factors to consider when it comes to data center fire suppression systems. The primary fire protection systems used within data centers typically include: wet pipe sprinklers, pre-action sprinklers, and special suppression (i.e., clean agent, inert gas, or mist). Suppression systems need to consider higher challenge areas such as automated information storage systems units and tape libraries. The preferred clean agent is NOVEC 1230.
Protecting your assets and your people.
Provides the largest margin of safety relative to all other clean agents, giving peace of mind for the health and safety of your workers.
No Water, No Damage, No Worries.
Designed for quick clean agent fire extinguishing, leaving valuable and sensitive materials clean and operational.
Protecting Your Business and the Environment.
By switching from an HFC to Novec 1230 fluid, which has a global warming potential of less than one, greenhouse gases in fire suppression can be reduced by more than 99 percent.