Data Centres are critical to the operation of all businesses whether you operate one or use one. Ensuring that they are not only protected from data theft or corruption but also from the physical effects of fire is essential.
Data Centre Fire Suppression Systems are no different from Fire Protection that is provided in a Server Room except the physical size of the rooms. Data Centres are usually must greater in physical size and therefore the Fire Suppression Systems are much greater in size.
Although this presents issues over Fire Suppression Agent storage (where am I going to store 30 cylinders) everything is relative. That is where ensuring you have all the facts is critical to a well designed Fire Suppression System but also a well designed Data Centre.
Fire Suppression Agents
There are three main agents used in Fire Suppression Systems for Data Centres Inert Gas or INERGEN®, and Novec 1230 (we no longer use FM200 on new systems see our FM200 Page for more information). Each has it’s own advantages and disadvantages and it is best to know them all so that you can decide what is best for your Data Centre.
Inert Gas Fire Suppression Systems have the best credentials in relation to the environment. They consist of up to naturally occurring gases namely Nitrogen, Argon and CO2 and can be used in a number of different mixture, for more information see our Inert Gas page. Inert Gas is very flexible in that it can protect multiple rooms and also be stored at a relatively long distance from the Data Centre. The most common names for Inert Gas Fire Suppression Systems are INERGEN®, IG541, IG55 and, Argonite.
Inert Gas Fire Suppression Agents unfortunately take up quite a large amount of space in comparison to other Agents. This is because they are store as gases at high pressure and therefore are not very efficient in terms of storage space. The high pressure they are stored at also means that you must fit Over Pressure Vents to ensure during a discharge the building is not damaged.
INERGEN® is one of the most widely known Inert Gas Suppression Systems in the UK as it is easy to design and install. It is very flexible and can be stored away from the risk so that the cylinders can be stored remotely. This means that in your Data Centre the cylinders can be stores away from the risk.
INERGEN® is stored uner 3 different pressures 150 bar, the oldest, 200 bar and 300 bar. The only difference ultimately is the amount of gas storesd in each cylinder. As INERGEN® is stored as a gas then the higher the pressure the gas is available in each cylinder and therefore less cylinders need to be used. It is made of 3 gases Argon, Nitrogen and CO2 and has the designated name IG541.
IG55 Gas Fire Suppression Systems are the most widely used systems in the UK as there has been no restiction of use due to trade names etc. Every manufacturer has their own special take on the system but they all use the same mix of gas namely Argon and Nitrogen as a 50:50 mix.
The cylinders can be stored away from the risk so as not to take up valuable space in the data centre and they come in both 200 bar and 300 bar versions but most use 300 bar.
Chemical Fire Suppression Agents
Chemical Fire Suppression Agents are manmade products that suppress a fire usually by cooling the fire. The most widely known but now banned was Halon and must now be removed and recycled or destroyed. The replacement for Halon was FM200 which we have now stopped selling new systems as there are restictions on it’s use and also it is more expensive than it’s replacement Novec 1230. The only Chemical Fire Suppression Agent we now have for new systems is Novec 1230 by 3M.
Novec 1230 is the newest of the normally used Fire Suppression Agents used in Data Centres and is similar to FM200 in that it is much more efficient storage than Inert Gas Agents as it is stored as a liquid and discharged as a gas. Novec 1230 is much more environmentally friendly than FM200 in that its Atmospheric Lifespan is just 3-5 days.
It requires slightly more agent by weight than FM200 and is also quite a bit more expensive but good things don’t come cheap.
Effective Fire Detection
Fire Suppression is only one half of the Active Fire Protection required to protect a Data Centre. Before one of the three Fire Suppression agents can be discharged you will need to be able to detect the fire first.
There are two main methods for fire detection systems in Data Centres, firstly standard Smoke Detectors installed throughout the room and VESDA Systems.
Standard Smoke Detectors are arranged to give protection in all areas of the Data Centre itself at a much reduced level of coverage at a maximum of 20m2 per detector.
This will mean that you need a much greater number of detectors than you would normally require and even more where the air speed is a lot quicker than normal. In addition, VESDA Systems are fitted to give an early warning of fire and are interfaced into the Fire Suppression Control Panel.
For more information or to ask a question please contact us directly.