Emerging Tech

Fire suppression for the server room

Server room fire suppression technology has been around for as long as there have been server rooms. Most systems use Halon, even though it has been shown to be environmentally unfriendly (ozone depleting) and unsafe for humans. I recently found a new kind of fire suppression system and am contemplating installing it in my server room. Have you heard of it?

I had a unique job interview when I was being considered for my current position. I never saw the computer room or any of the servers I would be supporting. It was highly unusual but the circumstances demanded quick action.

My predecessor was being fired and the managers responsible for interviewing me did not have time for the tour. I was interviewed, had the job offer within a few hours, and started a few days later. It was a great fit from the start.

I should have insisted on at least seeing the server room. One of the things I always look for when visiting server rooms is the fire suppression system. If I see standard water sprinklers on the ceiling then I know we're in trouble.

Disaster recovery planning

After several years of completing more urgent projects I have finally started on one of the most important but least addressed problems in most small businesses - disaster recovery. It can be a very involved and complex journey.

As a jet charter company, the FAA requires continual operational control of all our flights. We decided to implement a remote hot-site with automatic fail-over for our critical services like e-mail and our flight operations system.

In addition to the remote hot site, we are going to replace the fire-suppression system in our server room. I'm sure you can imagine what happens to servers, switches and battery backup systems when they are flooded with water.

Fire suppression systems

As a Tech of all Trades, I have just become the self-educated expert on non water-based fire-suppression systems. The vendor for our fire-control system for the hangars and offices had no clue about data center protection.

Having been in the industry for many years, I had heard of Halon systems but did not realize that they are no longer the best choice. They are dangerous to humans, environmentally unfriendly and leave a terrible mess behind.

I learned about a new type of system today that uses aerosol extinguishing technology. It does not replace the oxygen, produce hydrofluoric acid after the fire and has no environmental impact - no ozone depletion.

What's in your server room?

Rather than make this a commercial for the system I found and am recommending to management, I am curious to know what kind of server room fire protection you have in place in your organization. I have put together a little poll:

9 comments
maclovin
maclovin

I just ran into this article. Anyway, to add: The people I work with seem to think that the fire extinguisher down the hall is adequate protection.....WOW.

Firetraceviking
Firetraceviking

My company installs fire suppression systems for server rooms or server closets right on the rack or mainframe We use clean agents such as FM200 or 3M Novec 1230. You can use our low-pressure switch to send a signal to your existing fire panel or to shut off power, etc. I have pictures at my blog: http://firetraceviking.wordpress.com/ These systems are self-contained, require no power, and are portable with the rack or mainframe if you need to move it. Let me know what you think.

andylee.nz
andylee.nz

I currently work as a National IT manager for a Fire Protection Company, we recommend FM200 the link at Wikipedia mentioned earlier is a good resource.

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

Better back up that server.

Bas Wesselink
Bas Wesselink

We 've had a sales person demonstrating that the product made by 3M (that looks like water) is harmless for equipment by droping his cell-phone in the bottle and letting me call it. It just kept working and after he took it back out of it, the fluid drip out of the cell phone. it still worked.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

http://www.fike.com/ecaro_products.html It is supposedly %100 safe for humans. On the bad side the explosive charge in the head coupled with the escaping gasses will blow the drop ceiling tiles out of the roof (no choice about those being in there, I hate them) and will blow around any loose debris/paper/light items in the room. Not an enviroment I care to be in! I thought the explosive charge bit was pretty cool. I didn't realize it but almost all gas based systems use a small blasting cap in the dispersal head to realease the product. I couldn't convince the installer to let me have a few of those to experiment with. :)

mikem
mikem

My understanding is that halon is an ozone depleting gas and therefore shouldn't be used for new installations and in the UK all such systems shuold have been decmissioned therefore we use FM200 (possibly other trade names inogen or some such).

tmalonemcse
tmalonemcse

We are removing the water sprinklers from our server room and putting in an equipment friendly fire suppression system. Read the post: http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/techofalltrades/?p=149 Have you heard of aerosol-based fire protection? In particular, has anyone had any experience with the company I referenced in the article?

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