Fire suppression systems for data centres

Clean agent fire suppression system used in data centers, backup battery rooms, electrical rooms (under 400 volts), sub-floors or tape storage libraries.

Fire suppression systems are a critical piece of infrastructure for data centres. As data centres expand, so does the risk of critical loss. These facilities house massive amounts of critical data and equipment, making their protection from fire an absolute necessity.

Data centres are full of sensitive electronic equipment and invaluable data. A fire outbreak can lead to data loss, hardware damage and costly downtime. Traditional water-based fire suppression systems, such as sprinklers, can cause more harm than good in a data centre environment by damaging equipment and leading to potential data loss.

Clean agents fire suppression systems are an excellent choice for data centres. These systems use a gaseous agent that extinguishes the fire without causing damage to equipment or data. Some popular clean agents include:

FM200: This widely used clean agent suppresses fires by reducing oxygen levels and absorbing heat. FM200 is currently in the process of being phased-down and replaced with more eco-friendly alternatives.

Novec 1230: Novec 1230 is an eco-friendly option that rapidly extinguishes fires by removing heat. It’s electrically non-conductive and leaves no residue.

Inergen: Inergen is a mixture of naturally occurring gases found in the atmosphere, making it safe for humans. It displaces oxygen, suffocating the fire while preserving sensitive equipment.

Technician checks fire panel in data center

Pre-action sprinkler systems and VESDA

While traditional water sprinklers are not ideal for data centres, pre-action sprinkler systems offer a compromise. These systems feature dry pipes with pressurised air or nitrogen. The system releases water into the pipes only when it detects a fire. This minimises the risk of accidental water damage, while providing fire protection.

Early detection is crucial, allowing for a swift response before a fire can grow out of control.

VESDA (very early smoke detection apparatus) is a highly sensitive smoke detection system that can detect the presence of smoke at its earliest stages. It provides an early warning, giving data centre operators time to react and activate the fire suppression system.

Modular, scalable and environmentally friendly

Large-scale data centres often have evolving needs. It’s essential to choose fire suppression systems that are modular and scalable, allowing for easy expansion and maintenance. Clean agent systems are inherently modular, as you can add more cylinders to cover larger areas. This flexibility makes them ideal for data centres with changing requirements.

Data centre operators are increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of their facilities.

When selecting fire suppression systems, it is important to consider environmentally friendly options. Clean agents like Novec 1230 and Inergen are low in terms of global warming potential and ozone depletion potential, making them eco-conscious choices.

server room interior with fire systems

Redundancy, reliability and compliance

Uptime is critical, and the fire suppression systems must be reliable and incorporate redundancy to ensure uninterrupted protection. Dual-agent systems that combine clean agents and pre-action sprinklers offer an extra layer of reliability. These systems ensure that even if one component fails, another will still provide protection.

Compliance with local, national and industry-specific regulations is essential when designing a fire suppression system for a data centre.

Clean agent systems are typically compliant with most regulations. Still, it’s crucial to work with experts well-versed in the specific requirements for data centre fire protection.

Regular maintenance and testing are critical after choosing and installing a fire suppression system. These systems should undergo routine inspections to ensure their proper functionality. Data centre operators should also provide training for staff on how to respond to fire alarms and use the fire suppression system effectively.

DEM Fire has extensive experience in designing and installing fire suppression systems for data centres. Our exclusive partnership with property giant Goodman Group establishes us as a leading authority in data centre fire protection.

When planning fire and essential service safety at your data centre facility, speak to us and get Australia’s leading advice and technical expertise.

Contact DEM Fire & Essential Services Group

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