IT operations are a crucial component to any business, large or small. Companies rely on their information systems to run operations and if a system becomes unavailable, those operations might be impaired or stopped completely. In order to minimize disruption, data centers must keep high standards to ensure the integrity and functionality of its computer environment. There is a variety of risks that can affect your in-house data center including fire, power and cooling instability, physical security, network redundancy, and after-hours problems.
Today let’s focus on the need for fire protection systems in your data centers. They should include passive and active design elements as well as fire prevention programs. Smoke detectors provide an early warning for the use of manual suppression with extinguishers before the fire grows too large. Fire sprinkler systems will control a full scale fire but do require at least 18 inches of clearance below the sprinklers. If clean agent fire suppression gaseous systems or aerosol generators are installed, they could suppress a fire earlier than the sprinkler system and decrease your downtime.
Passive elements are just as important as active so it’s crucial to have fire walls installed around the data center to restrict the fire to a portion of the facility. Critical facilities may find these firewalls insufficient protection for heat-sensitive equipment. Unfortunately, conventional firewall construction is only rated for flame penetration, not heat penetration. You also need to be aware that there may be a lack of protection at vulnerable entry points such as air ducts or cable and line penetrations. If you house a mission critical data center, a fireproof vault with a Class 125 rating will be necessary to meet standards.
If you choose to house your IT operations in data centers, computer rooms, NOC’s, or server farms, be diligent in your research of fire suppression systems and education of the types of fires you may encounter. Your equipment and data need 24 hours of protection 7 days a week.
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