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Whitepaper examines fire protection best practice in data centres

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Fire Protection

The European Data Centre Association (EUDCA) has announced a new whitepaper examining the different options available for fire protection in data centres.

The whitepaper explores the advantages and potential risks of active fire protection systems that provide automatic extinguishing of fires in white spaces.

Entitled Fire Protection Options in Data Centres, it was co-authored by Bruno Fery, Head of Datacentre Services, EBRC, and James Perou, Senior Fire Engineer, ARUP. 

With fire safety being a significant consideration in the design of critical facilities, the authors of the whitepaper explain how data centres in particular pose more complex challenges for fire suppression systems due to features such as open areas, sensitive equipment, climate control and standby power. Due to the diversity of data centre size and capacity, a “one size fits all” approach to fire protection isn’t sufficient.

The whitepaper claims that full fire protection requires both active and passive measures, including compartmentalisation with fire-resistant construction elements to limit spread, technical measures including fire and extinguishing systems, and organisational and staff-related measures.

It also outlines features that should be taken into consideration in data centre design of retrofitting, such as early smoke detection systems, and the protection of critical infrastructures such as electrical rooms, UPS rooms, diesel engines, carrier rooms via a risk-based analysis.

“As critical facilities become larger and more complex with a significant growth in power concentration, the risk of fires will increase. It’s therefore imperative the correct approach to fire safety is identified and automatic fire safety systems are designed-in from the earliest stages,” said Fery.

Fire Protection Options in Data Centres provides a description of technology solutions for white spaces – noting that primary fire protection systems typically use two main extinguishing agents, water and gas (synthetic and inert) – as well as their deployment. Less common systems are also listed, and standards concerning the design, installation and maintenance of various solutions are detailed.

Perou added, “Most fires in mission critical facilities can be prevented if common mistakes are avoided. Human error plays a large role in increasing fire risk and this must be mitigated through training and procedures that are enforced. At the same time, all data centre stakeholders should be aware of the pros and cons of available fire systems.”

The whitepaper is available for free download from the EUDCA website.

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