Data centers present a unique fire risk. Full of electrical components, wires, and cables, not to mention generators and back-up power supplies, data centers house a range of potential fire hazards. Given that most of the equipment in a data center is sensitive, these buildings require tailored special hazard solutions. If you’re looking into data center fire protection standards, it’s important to know what requirements your data center needs to meet, and what fire protection and suppression systems can support them.
Data centers in the US must comply with NFPA 75 and 76 revised standards to ensure that there are proper fire suppression systems in place to keep your data, your employees, and your building safe.
Given the numerous fire hazards associated with data centers, fire protection is necessary at three different levels — the building level, the room level, and the rack level. Let’s take a closer look at the three levels of data center fire protection.
The first level of data center fire protection is the building level. This level of fire protection is focused on keeping the building, and any people in it, safe. Methods used to achieve building-level fire protection in data centers include:
This second level of data center fire protection is where NFPA’s standards begin to apply. As mentioned earlier, NFPA standards require sprinkler systems to protect data centers. Here’s a quick breakdown of the fire sprinkler systems available to data centers:
Room level data center fire protection also includes fire detection systems. Data centers benefit from Very Early and Early Warning Fire Detection (VEWFD & EWFD) systems, as these can actuate fire suppression systems at the earliest sign of a fire, minimizing any damage sustained in the data center.
The third level of data center fire protection is concerned with protecting equipment on the rack-level. In data centers specifically, fire detection in the early stages can be difficult, as many electrical components are enclosed.
This means a fire can go undetected until it’s become a larger hazard. By implementing rack-level fire protection, data centers can extinguish fires at their earliest stages, minimizing the potential for a larger fire to spread.
Common fire protection methods at the rack level include pre-engineered and automatic fire suppression systems. These systems are installed within the equipment, where they can detect and suppress fires before they are sensed by the larger room or building level fire suppression system. This works to minimize any damage sustained to sensitive equipment within a data center.
There is a lot that goes into acceptable data center fire protection. From three levels of fire protection to choosing a fire suppression system that protects your assets as well as it suppresses any fire hazards, there’s a lot to consider. For expert help installing and servicing top-of-the-line data center fire protection, talk to the team at Vanguard Fire & Security. Give our team a call at 800-444-8719 or contact us online for more information.