A fire, even a small one, can become a catastrophic event in a data center, which is why facility managers should take the necessary steps to prevent such occurrences. Since flammable materials fuel a fire, data centers should set aside breakdown rooms where new equipment can be unloaded before being carried into main areas where racks, electronic buses, and cooling equipment are housed. In a co-location center catering to multiple clients, a staging area is often provided for stripping off cardboard, plastic, and foam from new equipment.
Fire safety policies are especially important in multitenant data centers, says Robert Glavan, vice president of data center operations, Red Sea Group/Server Farm Realty, since what clients build, add, or replace can add to hazards if packaging is not properly disposed of. Moreover, fire safety policies must be enforced. “Every procedure should have a fire safety factor,” he says. “If there is no procedure to do something in the data center, then the procedure is not to proceed.” Any flammable materials required in the power room or data center must be in fireproof boxes or cabinets. It’s also important for security personnel to walk the facility ever couple of hours, or at least a few times a shift, to make sure that equipment is operating properly.
Another safety precaution is to house electronic buses in separate rooms, so that if one room has a fire condition, such as smoke, the entire facility does not have to be shut down. Also important is to keep up with architectural and structural changes created by remodels, which can create a need to reconfigure fire extinguishing technology.
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