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Fire protection, a key element for a data center

Building a data center is a real investment. You might think that this infrastructure is perfect or even flawless. However, this is not the case. The data center is exposed to several risks, including fire. In this article, we will focus on the fire protection of the data center.

Table of contents

Focus on the data center

A data center or computer center as its name indicates is a place of computer storage. It is therefore a place intended for the storage of data or computer component. We can also say that it is a central repository. It is used to manage the equipment of the information system. It is the place where we find the spare computers or to repair, the computer accessories and all the other tools necessary for the good functioning of the computer park of a company.

Every private or public company needs to have its own storage place to group computer materials. It is a private and supervised place. Its physical form and size depend on its purpose. It can be a simple work tool. Sometimes it even needs a building reserved for certain company personnel.

What is its purpose?

In order to function, a company must have a data center to serve it. It is important for avoid data leakage Personal and business data of an enterprise. The size of the storage depends on each entity and varies according to the type and scope of the data to be protected.

For small and medium-sized businesses, a simple computer that acts as an information hub is enough to play the role of computer storage for them. For larger establishments such as official offices like ministries or the military, the computer storage location really requires the privatization of an entire building. It will be a house under military protection where you will find a network of computers. In any case, this infrastructure will be used for the organization, processing, and especially the management of the IT department of a well-defined work park in the establishment.

Focus on the role of a computer center

It is obvious that each person, each administrator has data of high importance that he does not want to disclose. Hence, the need for a storage place. It is to ensure the security of this secret information that managers choose to invest in the determination and construction of its private storage place. This means that the main role of this private place is to serve as a storage of equipment and computer data essential to the conduct of business.

The place of the computer exchange is not just that of a mere accessory. This place is a key tool for the serenity and sustainability of business life. In short, the data center is both the pillar and the core of an establishment’s existence. Its role does not remain on the usual point, but it is mainly used to the hope and success of work management in general.

Why are fire suppression systems important for data centers?

Even though data center providers have a well-founded system, this does not prevent the spread of fire. There are many different causes of fire and it is particularly important to be aware of them.

Are there any risks involved in using a data center service?

The main thing to know is that a data center is among the driving forces behind the development of a business. But even if it is launched with supreme technology, it is not perfect. Fires have always been a threat to it. Therefore, the statistics of theUptime Institute revealed a total of 25 cases, 11 of which were not published. All this information to say that data centers are not free of dangers. Every user should be aware of the risks involved. In short, the only way out is to find a trusted data center provider. In this case, the user will be able to easily cope with the unexpected.

But what are the possible causes of a data center fire?

Fire can be caused with several reasons. Besides digital equipment, cables, wires, fire can also be caused by raised floors, suspended ceilings or HVAC equipment.

During the fire at OVHcloud In Strasbourg, for example, the theories are diverse. On the one hand, some people think that the origin of the fire is based on the design of the tower. Indeed, the latter has an automatic ventilation system, practicing cooling by convection. With the entry of cold air, the hot air floods the tower forming a chimney.

On the other hand, the absence of the VESDA system (very early smoke detection device), and of a fire extinguishing system was fatal to the center.

The importance of automatic fire suppression for data centers

As their names suggest, they allow early detection of a fire and immediately extinguish it. The system is triggered to perform its mission, avoiding spreading the fire to other areas.

However, these systems come from two main sources: the fire extinguishing systems designed and those prefabricated. The first ones consist in flooding the room with a clean agent. Stored in some cases in liquid form, it is always released as a gas. The objective is to make the equipment and the workers in the center safe. The second type protects smaller areas such as engine compartments and electrical panels.

Fire detection can also be used, with a choice of an active and a non-electrical system. One is electrically based, continuously monitoring the origin of smoke or heat. While the other, it uses fire detection tubes, bursting at any contact with fire or heat.

The presence of these various fire extinguishing and detection systems is thus vital to the safety and development of any data center. Each of them exists to prevent the spread of fire as quickly as possible.

3 solutions to protect your data center from fire.

There are three scales of fire protection that companies should implement within their data centers. Indeed, the impact of fire could be serious in a data center. To avoid this, theNFPA Association establishes standards for protection at three different scales. Here, we will discover these 3 scales.

Building-wide fire protection

This is the first level of fire protection. This protection is put in place to protect the building and employees from fire. There are several types of fire protection, but the most commonly used are sprinklers that activate in the event of abnormal heat, and portable fire extinguishers that isolate the fuel vapors and produce a smothering effect. To prevent or retard the spread of fire, a building should install firewalls and fire floor assemblies. These equipments are essential for fire prevention.

Data center fire protection on an apartment scale

The NFPA has imposed the standard NFPA 75 a room-level fire protection standard and is the bare minimum standard for the data center. NFPA has programmed fire sprinkler systems. These sprinklers are located in the piping and disperse as soon as the alarm is activated.

However, this type of system has some weaknesses. There is another system that is more recognized. It is the pre-action system, with this system, a minimum of fire detection points are required to start the sprinkler system. But this gas system uses a clean or inert gas, which takes up a lot of space because of the quantity of gas cylinders. This leads to the destruction of the hard drives in the data center. Nevertheless, these systems remain the cheapest for fire protection of the data center.

Data center fire protection at the cabinet or rack level

This protection is the last scale of the data center fire protection. This is essential to protect the equipment and limit the damage. A prefabricated sprinkler system should be installed. The purpose of this system is to protect the equipment while detecting the fire quickly and extinguishing it. This system directs the fire detection tube between the specific cabinets and connects it to a cylinder with a clean agent. The role of this detection tube is to detect a heating and to activate the systems in order to suppress the fire.

These three scales are essential and companies should treat them to limit the damage caused by fire or even avoid it.

Sources & Credits
Source: colocationamerica – Credit:

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