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:

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