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Fire prevention and suppression inherent in data center design

A recent arson scare in Denmark has reminded data center and facilities managers around the world of the importance of fire suppression and fire proofing in data center design.

As reported in Datacenter Dynamics on 3 February 2015 a Danish firm suffered an arson attack where criminals used accelerants to set the facility on fire.

Fire can be catastrophic and thankfully in the Danish case, the main IT equipment was saved from the fire because of fire suppression protocols, and acts as a timely reminder to review what levels of class leading fire suppression and proofing are available to Datapod customers.

Safety and efficient design is at the heart of the modular Datapod System and features both internal and external factors that either act to fire proof or mitigate against the chance of a fire incident.

Typically, the IT equipment contained in a Datapod System is protected by an outside shell made from mild steel, which can be upgraded to a level for enhanced ballistic protection if required. The Datapod System is built to an ISO-standard form factor and features 110mm of high density fire resistant insulation with a stainless steel interior. The integration of fire resistant design is standard across all Datapod Systems.

For customers in hazard environments where protection of fire originating externally to the data center, Datapod offers extra protection via a high density 100mm fireproof insulation panel system that is fitted to the exterior of the Datapod System once assembled onsite. Tests have shown, this added protection enables the interior of the Datapod System to be protected from fire and has proven to provide compliancy to the North American UL2079 standard and Australian Standard AS1570(d).

Internally, the Datapod System features an inert gas fire suppression system.  Comprised of naturally occurring elements, these ‘clean agents’ present no danger to electronics, hardware or human occupants. The systems extinguish a fire by discharging into the ‘hot-aisle’ of the rack configuration,

quickly flooding the area to be protected and effectively diluting the oxygen level to about 13–15%. Combustion requires at least 16% oxygen. The Datapod fire suppression system is activated by an asipirating smoke detector such as a VESDA system, with a second confirmation trigger by an optical sensor to prevent an accidental discharge.  This type of automatic gas suppression system will automatically extinguish a fire without the need of human intervention, yet enable the IT systems to restart when safe to do so.

A Fire Indicator Panel is installed adjacent to the VESDA system inside the Datapod System’s control room.  The fire suppression medium is housed externally to enable regular servicing without the need for access to the data hall. External components of the fire suppression system are fully housed in a standardised module constructed in accordance with ISO-certifications for shipping containers.  The fire-suppression sub-assembly is manufactured and tested as a discreet module and then connected to the main data hall as a contiguous part of the overall structure.

Once the fire has been detected the control equipment alerts the operators locally through sounders and visual indicators as well as to the wider building users through interfaces into the main fire alarm system. 

The Datapod data-hall also incorporates an Emergency Power Off button (EPO) to enable the immediate and total shutdown of the mains and UPS power and is connected to the fire indicator panel for remote and automatic operation via the fire detection/suppression system. 

The EPO switch is a highly visible and unique switch, fitted with a safety cover, and indicator to clearly show when the switch has been activated. 

Datapod has safety at the heart of their modular data center design so staff and infrastructure have the best mitigation protocols in place.

For more questions about Datapod’s fire suppression techniques simply contact us.

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