Data centers provide unique fire protection hazards and challenges due to the concentration of sensitive electrical equipment. These facilities are the heartbeat of many businesses, making 7×24 operation critical. Data centers are vital to financial institutions, security functions, and the transmission of information worldwide. Their application to a business’s bottom line goes beyond maintaining a functioning online presence—they are an expensive asset to any company and indispensable to the worldwide economy. They must have fire protection systems that go beyond typical commercial buildings.
Wet pipe sprinkler systems are the most widely used fire protection systems in the world, but they are not a good option for data centers. They are slower to activate than smoke detectors or air sampling systems, requiring a significant fire event to discharge water. Leaks, mechanical damage, and inadvertent discharges pose as much of a threat to sensitive electrical equipment as a fire, so it is best to consider other types of sprinkler systems in data centers.
Water Mist and Hybrid Water Mist
These systems work by atomizing water so that an exceptionally fine water spray mist extinguishes a fire by cooling. They use 70%-90% less water than traditional sprinkler systems and what is discharged is “clean”, not dirty sprinkler water. Hybrid water mist systems use both a water spray and inert gas that combines the best attributes of each. Standard water mist systems do not require an ancillary smoke detection system, although they can be interfaced with one. Hybrid water mist systems use smoke detection systems. Both types can be engineered for immediate activation using air sampling smoke detection. They are especially effective in switchgear and control rooms and generator enclosures.
Pre-action sprinkler systems are the foundation of data center fire protection. These systems typically require two distinct actions before water is discharged: Activation of a smoke detector(s) and significant heat generation to fuse a sprinkler head. As with wet pipe sprinklers, pre-action systems require a significant fire event to discharge water. Pre-action sprinklers, and sprinklers in general, provide life safety and building protection but do little to protect sensitive electronic equipment or prevent costly business downtime.
Clean Agent Systems
Clean agent suppression systems are excellent options for data centers. They are defined as electrically non-conductive gaseous fire extinguishing agents that do not leave a residue upon evaporation. The most common agents are FM-200™ and Novec 1230™. These agents are listed and approved to be used in normal occupied spaces at typical design concentrations. They do not pose a threat to equipment or people in the room. Clean agent systems can use early detection, so they respond immediately.
In-Rack Fire Detection and Suppression
There are two types of systems that can directly protect racks. One utilizes a combination air sampling detection and control unit. It is specifically designed for installation in enclosed 19” racks. The clean extinguishing agent is Novec 1230™. The other type uses small, linear pneumatic tubing. The tubing is used as a detection device and for clean agent delivery. The tubing can be installed directly in the cabinet and use a variety of clean agents.
Fire Protection Services from Fireline
Whether you need smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, or an automatic sprinkler system installed at your commercial property, Fireline has you covered. We have been protecting people and property from fire damage since 1947—and our experience shows in our excellent work! We are known for our superb customer service, our expertise, and our reliability. For more information on how we can help your residential or commercial property, visit us online or give us a call at (800) 553-3405. We are in Baltimore, MD, with a second office in Leesburg, VA. For more fire safety tips, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.