Fire Extinguishing System


Fire extinguishing system

Modern hardware within data centers is very capable; this is also due to the high density of electronics. Besides high energy consumption and high requirements towards climatization this also implies an increased fire hazard in case of a short circuit. Arising fires can be discovered by smoke detectors or early fire alarm units and then should be extinguished as effectively as possible by an fire-extinguishing system while there are as few collateral damages as possible.

Water as an extinguishing agent is out of the question as electronic components can be destroyed. Therefore the use of different gas based extinguishing systems has become standart in the IT-World. Those systems are based on two different principles: expulsion of oxygen or withdrawal of heat.

With expulsion of oxygen a gas is induced into the data center, replacing the oxygen needed for the burning process. If the level of oxygen in the data center drops below a certain threshold, the fire will extinguish by itself. Suitable extinguishing gases for this method are CO2, nitrogen or argon. However CO2 is not optimal as it is harmful to mankind and can cause damages to hardware by icing effects. Although CO2 is frequently used in hand-held fire extinguishers: Here negative effects are less strong due to application of such small quantities.

Other extinguishing gases withdraw energy from the fire by special chemical composition until the complete reaction is interrupted. Special industrial gases have been developed.

They are harmless for people, hardware and environment. In data centers the use of FM 200 and NOVEC 1230 are common. In comparison with oxygen suppressing gases much lower concentration is needed to extinguish a fire.

Another possibility for active avoidance of fire is the permanent inertization of the data center. It is a controlled oxygen diminution, where oxygen levels are lowered by inducing nitrogen. In this atmosphere an emergence of an open fire can be excluded since little available oxygen is not sufficient to foster a fire.

The continuous operation of a fire avoidance system, with permanent nitrogen production in a compressor, is connected to correspondent high operating costs. Authorized personnel will also need a health certificate, as oxygen reduced air has the same effect as mountain air – not suitable for everyone.

Fire-extinguishing systems are most effective when placed as close to the source of fire as possible in order to produce necessary gas concentrations. This way, not only fire is stopped quickly but also waste extinguishing agent is limited. Therefore rack-based fire-extinguishing systems are very fast and efficient.

But this is also the rule with fire-extinguishing systems within a room: the closer the gas is released to the fire, the faster it will be extinguished. To accelerate extinguishing of a fire it therefore makes sense to install several outlets across a room.

Fire-extinguishing systems should always be adapted to a rooms size. If a fire-extinguishing system not sufficient for the room size, will always be noticed too late: when it burns. Also important is for excess pressure arising through gas release can be regulated through fire shutters or excess pressure slides, which allow for excess pressure to be relieved to the outside.

Therefore you should leave planning and construction of fire-extinguishing systems to an expert. We are happy to advise you and explain to you, which size of system is optimal for your data center. Don’t hesitate to ask us, we’ll take care of IT.


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