A data centre is a building, or a dedicated area within a building, or a group of buildings that are used to house computer systems and associated components such as telecommunications and storage systems.
IT operations are crucial to business continuity. Therefore, data centres usually include redundant or backup components and infrastructure for power supply, data communications connections, environmental controls and various fire and security devices.
The key goal for any data centre or communications infrastructure is uptime. Any downtime in this sort of facility could prove catastrophic to a business. With this in mind, it is essential that fast and reliable fire detection is in place to ensure that fires can be dealt with quickly and efficiently without the need to shut down operations.
What are the Risks?
Data centres contain a good number of fire risks; they contain an abundance of electrical and mechanical systems that are all at risk of overloading, malfunction and degradation. On top of this, there are also many administrative risks such as poor housekeeping and storage practices that can create unintentional fuel sources.
What are the Challenges?
As with most industrial and commercial applications, there are many unique fire detection challenges associated with this type of facility. These include:
- Dilution of smoke
- There are several factors that can cause the smoke in data centres to become diluted; high-airflow conditions, the introduction of outside air (economy cooling), air change cycles, filters and fans.
- Horizontal Airflows
- Horizontal airflows do not allow a build-up of smoke in a specific area or under the ceiling, making traditional detectors ineffective.
- Cooling and extraction equipment used in data centres carry air and heat away from the facility. Exhausting smoke-laden air to the outside leaves little evidence that a fire event is happening.
- False Alarms
- Where external cooling is used, outside pollution can be introduced to the protected areas and cause false alarms.
What is the Solution?
The ideal smoke detection for this type of facility is one that provides a reliable and very early warning, that can monitor the entire fire progression and that provides alarm thresholds for staged responses leading to the initiation of suppression systems.
VESDA aspirating smoke detection can provide just that. Thanks to the use of powerful aspirators, VESDA provides reliable and accurate, high sensitivity smoke detection. It can detect smouldering type fires with very low smoke output as well as smoke that is diluted by high airflows.
VESDA’s cumulative smoke sampling provides a represented reading of the entire space and a staged response across all the fire development stages.
VESDA detectors actively draw smoke from the protected areas via a network of pipes, into a detection chamber. This means that VESDA detectors can be mounted centrally, providing reliable detection for secure and restricted areas while remaining accessible for service, maintenance and testing.
VESDA detectors also incorporate a clean-air barrier and absolute sensitivity that ensures longevity and continued performance. They are also able to monitor and compensate for incoming pollutants into the protected area, thus reducing the risk of false alarm.
VESDA Design Considerations
When designing a fire detection system for data centres there a several factors to consider:
It is important to know the cooling configurations and airflow characteristics (direction, magnitude), air temperatures and pressure differentials of the protected area.
How will parameters such as concealed spaces, ceiling height, containment structures, room geometry and equipment locations affect airflow patterns, ventilation and smoke detection?
Will outside air intake for cooling or makeup introduce contaminants that could affect network reliability or create unwanted alarms?
Is the area accessible for maintenance, test and inspection or will the detector need to be installed centrally for easy access?
VESDA Solutions by Data Center Application
Data centres have a variety of different areas, each with unique detection requirements. This means that a performance-based design is required to apply detection solutions to the specific environmental and operational conditions of data centres. The recommended detectors for each specific area are:
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For more information about VESDA aspirating smoke detection, or to discuss any of the other products that Eurofyre have to offer, please feel free to get in touch either by phone on +44 (0) 1329 835 024, by email to [email protected] or via the online enquiry form situated on our contact page.