JOHN HALL MANAGING DIRECTOR COLOCATION AT PROXIMITY DATA CENTRES – THE UK DIVISION OF NLIGHTEN
Clearly there are potential fire risks and hazards in any environment where there is a concentration of electrical equipment. For data centres the risk of electrical faults is ever present, especially with more and more powerful racks being accommodated.
Furthermore, having multiple contractors on-site at any one time is part of daily life and the tasks they carry out could create a potential and considerable fire hazard. Ensuring there is a robust permit to work system including the use of hot works permits when carrying out potentially hazardous work, such as brazing, is therefore a prerequisite and scheduled post work inspections are vital after any work has been completed.
Dust can accumulate on equipment, leading to overheating. Regular cleaning should therefore include removing dust from surfaces including IT equipment and within the air conditioning and cooling systems. A cleaning regime should be implemented either in house or by a third-party specialist.
Fire suppression systems help support the data centre team – these are efficient in quickly suppressing fires without damaging the equipment. Likewise, the use of very early smoke detection apparatus (VESDA) aides the early detection of smoke, often via the building management system or fire alarm system, alerting staff to a potential issue before the fire has a chance to take hold.
Installing fire resistant walls, doors and other barriers will also prevent the spread of fire within a facility. The correct use of fire stopping materials where cables breach rooms will help in the reduction of the spread of fire and smoke.
Fire equipment maintenance must be integral to any data centre operating procedures. BS EN 15004-1:2019 provides a guide to the regular testing and maintenance of fire detection and suppression systems to ensure that they are always in working condition. This maintenance should only be done by a suitably competent contractor.
Data centre owners and operators must never underestimate the importance of fire prevention by investing in detection and suppression systems, and adhering to safety procedures. The risk of unplanned downtime, loss of corporate reputation and potentially lost business are simply too high.
‘ DUST CAN ACCUMULATE ON EQUIPMENT, LEADING TO OVERHEATING. REGULAR CLEANING SHOULD THEREFORE INCLUDE REMOVING DUST FROM SURFACES INCLUDING IT EQUIPMENT AND WITHIN THE AIR CONDITIONING AND COOLING SYSTEMS.’
Read the article on page 20 in the November issue of Inside Netwroks.