Many data centers hold sensitive equipment and mission critical data which are essential for a company’s operations. This includes server rooms, control rooms, or control stations. A good definition of mission critical data is “the processes and operations that directly support an organization’s end users and customers. The operations are mission-critical because they are core to the company’s mission and, if they fail, they can cause significant financial or reputational damage to the organization.”

You can understand why it’s vital that a company has a robust and reliable fire protection system in place to protect sensitive data centers. It’s not just the major corporations who need protecting; it’s businesses of all sizes. More and more, companies are relying on cloud-based computing and data storage. The need for data centers is growing, but so can the risk of fire if there’s not an effective fire protection plan in place.

How do data center fires occur?

Data center fires can be catastrophic in many ways. Understanding how data center fires occur can be helpful in creating a plan for fire protection. A few common fire hazards you may find within the interior of a data center include:

  • Lightning strikes
  • Short circuits
  • Overloaded electric systems
  • Overheating of wiring and/or equipment
  • Arson
  • Negligence on behalf of employees and/or customers

What is the best fire protection methods for data centers?

The best fire protection method for data centers is one that follows NFPA’s data center fire protection standards, detect fire and smoke early, and suppress flames fast and efficiently.

NFPA 75 and 76 outline the fire protection requirements for all data centers operating within the U.S. These standards ensure the safety of your building, data systems, and all of the individuals who work in the building. NFPA 75 dictates requirements for IT equipment while NFPA 76 dictates requirements for telecommunications facilities.

Some of the best fire protection methods for data centers include:

  • Clean agent suppression system
    • Water based systems can cause incredible damage to data center equipment so the recommendation for data centers is clean agent suppression systems. Clean agent systems use clean agent or inert gas instead of water to suppress fire.
  • Early detection system
    • Smoke detectors can detect fire even before fire has a chance to take hold. Early Warning Smoke Detectors (EWSD) and Very Early Warning Smoke Detectors (EWSD) can detect an incipient fire. Spot-type detectors and air-aspirating smoke detectors are most commonly used in data centers.
  • Halocarbon-based Class C portable fire extinguishers
    • This class of extinguishers are intended for use on electronic equipment. They also leave behind no residue and can be used around people.

Beyond these measures, keep in mind that NFPA standards also require an evacuation plan in place for your building.

How can I protect against data center fires?

For data center fires, the best protection is prevention. Work with a highly certified fire protection company to put together a fire protection plan for your business. Data centers, server rooms, control stations, and control rooms all need specialized care when protecting against the dangers of fire and smoke. It’s important that you work with a fire protection company that can provide the best, most up to date technology in fire protection.

Fire Systems, Inc. is an Atlanta based fire protection company that has been in business for well over 30 years. If you are a local business in need of fire protection, call us. We know local fire codes, national fire codes, and the absolute best methods for protecting sensitive data from fire. We can tailor a plan specific to your needs and you can be confident that your data is safe and secure should a fire occur. Contact Fire Systems today at 770-333-7979 or visit our website for more information on all of the many services that we offer.