Fire Safety in Data Centers

Fire Safety in Data Centers

A company needs to take care of its welfare, and one of the significant aspects is fire safety. It is essential for a data center due to law and legislation, insurance requirement, and the wishes and demands of the customer or user. The number of fire accidents in the Netherlands does not differ significantly in the last couple of years apart from some ups and downs within the figures (CBS). It is crucial to implement sufficient measures for fire safety in view of its detrimental effects including loss of life, hardware, and data. Several steps are taken to minimize the risk and impact in a data center.

Prevention of fire

When no fire exists at all, there will be no loss. Therefore, strict safety rules are needed to prevent inflammation. People and equipment are responsible for a fire burst. Strict regulations, processes, and policies must be made for all individuals entering the premises, and all equipment should be installed safely and in accordance with strict regulations/standardizations to prevent the occurrence of a fire. The other criteria towards safety are to limit the chance of fire on the premises; the process can differ in each area, e.g., the data hall is the most significant part where critical data and hardware is stored; therefore the combustible material is strictly forbidden in this area. In the loading zone, combustible material like cardboard/paper is allowed in a reasonable quantity. Proper risk management must be made before beginning a project or activity. Besides implementing policies, procedures and rules, it is necessary to monitor the applied measures. When security methods are not operating efficiently, the policies, regulations, and procedures have no use. All these measures must result in a safe and fireproof environment.

Fire Safety in Data Centers
Fire in large data center.

Detection of fire

Within the premises, appropriate personnel must directly be informed of the occurrence of fire. Therefore, an Aspirating Smoke Detector (ASD) system is used to identify smoke before it is visible, and the catastrophic event can be prevented. In a typical data center, an ASD system is used in the data hall, due to the presence of a large amount of critical data and equipment. Based on the type of area several detection measures can be implemented, like ASD, smoke detection system, flame detection, manual detection, heat detection, etc. When the fire is noticed, the location of the fire must be apparent. The fire alarm system will show the site and by using camera monitoring the area can be inspected quickly to make a quick estimation of the impact. The fire alarm system will also inform appropriate management/personnel.

Minimize impact

When the fire is spotted, people need to respond accurately and timely. Since camera monitors a data center, the location of the detector can be quickly watched to see what is happening. Besides using the cameras, personnel should be trained to arrive immediately at the site and using fire extinguishers to terminate the fire at an early stage. The equipment used is selected for minimizing the impact on the environment. A quick response, using the right material will reduce the effect of a fire.

Disaster Impact

If the system of fire safety fails, the fire can become a disaster. Of course, this must not happen in a data center. There is a small chance that the fire starts and is unstoppable even after quick responses as the automatic fire extinguishing system like a sprinkler, water mist, gas will reduce the damage of the disaster. Also, the use of fire compartments will mitigate the impact of the fire calamity. The fire compartments will try to limit the fire within the chamber thus minimizing the risk of reaching other sections.

Fire Safety in Data Centers

In case of fire, the people in the building must be able to evacuate immediately. The evacuation routes must be appropriately constructed to prevent damage to life, on the other hand they need to be designed to avoid uncontrolled access to the property as the routes can be abused for entering the premises. Therefore, the courses are designed in such a way that it allows people to leave on time, also preventing quick and uncontrolled access to critical areas. Planning evacuation is the key to human safety, and smart design is required to avoid abuse and to protect systems and data.

At Datacenter.com, we use the different procedures to lessen the risk of a fire disaster and to minimize the impact in case a fire occurs. It includes prevention of fire, and risk assessment for all projects and activities that are not compliant to the house rules like monitoring of the premises using CCTV, alarms before a fire starts using ASD, quick response in case of alarms, proper fire extinguish equipment, fire compartmentation, and sprinkler in critical areas. A data center is designed to support in case of a catastrophe resulting from a fire burst thus protecting the clients and their assets.

To learn more about Datacenter.com, just give us a call at +31 (0)20 2384200, or drop us an email at info@datacenter.com. Do you like to visit our Amsterdam Data Center? You can schedule a data center tour, right here.

Blog by Jouke Albeda, Security & Compliance Manager

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