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Data Center Fire Safety Strategies

A fire in a data center is a catastrophe for most any organization. Here are four things to consider to keep your data center safe.

• Regular inspection and service of the fire safety system. Do you sometimes feel like we talk a lot about preventive maintenance? Well, that’s because prevention is the best medicine. Perform regular inspections and service all fire-fighting systems and equipment to ensure they are operational.

• Consider multiple power rooms. Most data centers have one large power room that houses electrical buses. There may be three primary buses, which includes a "catcher bus" if one of the buses fails. But a discharge of water will shut down the entire room. What's more if there is a smoke condition, the fire fighter will tell the facility manager to shut down the entire power room and thus the data center. An uncommon but effective solution is to have a data center design where each bus would be in its own room, along with its own emergency power off switch. An additional three rooms would house the uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system for each of the buses.

• Keep up with changes in the facility. When a space is remodeled, always consider the effects on the original fire-safety design. Changes to the space could result in over- or under-concentration of a gaseous agent on either side of a divide, for example.

• Keep up with changes in the technology. As more sophisticated computer equipment comes on the market and requires even more cooling, additional systems may also be added to channel cold air to the equipment. Such modifications can enclose an aisle between equipment so cold air has to blow through equipment cabinets in order to get out, but that same procedure can also prevent a fire suppression agent from getting into the cabinets. So, it is important to consider the impact of next generation cooling systems on the original fire-safety design of a facility.


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