In other pages on this site, we’ve discussed the many important aspects and qualities of a robust and reliable data center: high speed connectivity
, great data center space
, superior services
, and abundant power
. Another important one is that you need to have the proper systems to handle things that go wrong. And one of the biggest challenges in this respect is fire.
While not a common occurrence, fires can happen in a data center. Between all the electric connections, various computers and equipment and the high internal heat that they operate at, the potential for a fire situation is there. Once again, there are different approaches that data center operators can take to address this. Some are required by law, but there are still many options.
To begin with, nearly every municipality requires some sort of sprinkler system. Obviously though, water is really bad for computers. So, what SMH does is that we installed dry pipe sprinklers. What that means is that there is no water in the pipes. Water is only sent to the pipes if the heat under the pipes is high enough to trigger the system. The reason for this is that pipes can leak, but without any water in them, you don’t have to worry about this. Just in case, our facility is also outfitted with a leak detection system. It warns us if water is detected so the issue can be addressed immediately.
Many data centers stop at this point. They either install regular sprinklers (and risk the leaking issue) or install dry pipes. The problem with this is that you are still using water as your primary resource for dealing with fire. Fortunately, there is a better solution and SMH uses it. Our data centers are all outfitted with FM 200 fire suppression. FM 200 is a gas that will not harm computers or other equipment. In the event that a fire is detected, the gas is triggered to suppress the fire. In the event of fire detection, the FM 200 is deployed first. Water only comes into play if the fire cannot be suppressed by the FM 200. We even have FM-200 hand held canisters strategically placed throughout the facility for spot use.
Our facility also is equipped with VESDA (very early smoke detection alarm). This state of the art laser based system samples particles in the air, looking for smoke. It will easily detect any smoke or fire event well before a person would. This helps isolate and stop any issue far in advance of it creating any problems. Finally, to avoid false alarms, none of the systems are triggered unless there are at least 2 adjacent alarm events.
Another concern for a data center is clean air. To help keep the equipment in the rooms running well, all air in the data center is continually filtered. Dust, particles and other foreign objects can be damaging to equipment. Our systems completely recycle the facility air every 90 seconds.