FM-200 Fire Suppression Systems
Fire suppression systems are a necessity for every IT-based business. This is especially true for data centers that provide colocation services. Data center facilities typically house computer equipment, data, and even intellectual property that can be worth millions of dollars. The heat generated by this equipment and the large volume of electrical cabling put these facilities at high risk of fire.
Even a small fire in one of the areas housing the servers could cost millions in damage and disrupt the operations of multiple businesses. It is vital that a data center deploys the best possible form of fire suppression system to ensure any fire is dealt with quickly and efficiently. For this reason a number of data centers have started using the FM-200 system.
What is FM-200 and How is it Deployed?
FM-200 uses the extinguishing agent HFC-227ea. HFC-227ea is a colorless, odorless, and electrically non-conductive halocarbon gas. When dispensed into a hazard area it will not restrict vision or leave any form of residue behind. HFC-227ea can be used to protect a wide array of applications including electrical and computer equipment.
The gas works by physically absorbing the heat from a fire to a point where it is unable to spread. It does not displace oxygen which makes it safe for use in occupied areas.
Data centers store FM-200 as a compressed liquid which it deploys through a pipe network into the targeted area where it safely vaporizes. The gas requires a concentration of between 6.25% and 9% to effectively suppress a fire, depending on the equipment housed in the hazard area.
Advantages of FM-200 over Nongaseous Suppression Systems
Many fire suppression systems can cause damage to sensitive computer equipment. Spraying water over sensitive computer, electronic, and telecommunications equipment will obviously cause serious and long-term damage. In this type of environment, it is crucial that the suppression system does not leave any residue or water behind.
FM-200 is residue free, and therefore it requires no clean up and is safe to deploy on electrical hardware. Due to the compression techniques used to store the gas, coupled with the low deployment rates needed to fight fire, FM-200 requires little storage space. The gas also decomposes very slowly so it may be stored for a long time.
Advantages of FM-200 over Halon
Data centers started using FM-200 as an environmentally safe alternative to Halon gas. FM-200 has an Ozone Depletion Potential of zero. It therefore has minimal impact on the environment compared to Halon.
Speed of suppression
FM-200 systems have extinguishing levels of 10 seconds or less. This means, it extinguishes combustible, electrical, or flammable liquid fires before they are able to cause widespread damage. This leads to less disruption, lower repair costs and lower downtime experienced by users.
Safety in enclosed spaces
FM-200 is a clean agent, which means that it is safe to use within the confined spaces of the data center occupied by users. The safety of FM-200 fire suppression in enclosed environments has been proven through extensive scientific research over the last decade.
FM-200 as part of a data center’s fire defenses
The best method of protection against fire damage is prevention. Data centers train their staff thoroughly on the use of fire detection and fire suppression systems, including the use of handheld extinguishers. In addition to fire suppression, High-Sensitivity Smoke Detection (HSSD) sensors are deployed to detect overheating components and combusted particulates early, before they have the opportunity to cause a fire. As a last defense, the data center will deploy FM-200 through a dry-pipe, pre-action fire suppression system. A pre-action FM-200 system quickly targets the hazard area providing fire protection for mission-critical data quickly and prevents accidental water damage.
Along with other high-end technologies deployed by data centers in Dallas, the use of FM-200 fire suppression systems provide a safe and stable environment in which to store IT equipment. Any facility not willing to invest in a clean and efficient fire suppression system leaves itself, and its users, exposed to costly damage and long periods of downtime, exactly what it exists to prevent.
Randy P. Wilson analyzes different cities in the United States to determine the best locations for data centers and colocation. He prefers Austin Data Center because of the numerous geographic benefits. Randy strongly urges companies to seek out geographically “safe” cities when selecting a data center. The Data Center in Austin that provides world class service is further explained at http://www.datafoundry.com