Whether it is a server, network, or telecommunications equipment, electronics are valuable to your business and protecting them from fire damage is important for ensuring your business can continue without interruption. A room-wide fire protection system is not always necessary, if you have your equipment housed in a cabinet it is possible to have local application fire protection.
From 2006 to 2010, there were an estimated 209 reported U.S. structure fires per year that started in electronic equipment rooms. According to the National Archives & Records Administration in Washington, 93% of companies that lost their data center for 10 days or more due to a disaster filed for bankruptcy within one year of the disaster.
In-rack fire detection and suppression units are available to protect electronics that are housed in a fully-enclosed cabinet. These systems are designed to fit in the rack, usually of a 19” cabinet and include a smoke aspiration system with two sensors, an agent container with release mechanism and discharge nozzles, a power supply and emergency back-up power supply.
Room-wide systems such as a clean agent system or Stat-X system, work really well for protecting server rooms and the equipment kept there. However, if you have an equipment cabinet stored outside of your server room then these systems are probably more than you need to protect that space. An in-rack system will protect your equipment within the cabinet, putting the fire suppression system as close to the critical equipment as possible, without the higher expense of a room-wide system.
Another benefit of in-rack systems, is that they can detect and suppress deep-seated fires within the equipment cabinet. Electronics and IT racks can experience smoldering fires deep within the equipment. A room-wide system would probably not be able to detect this fire in the incipient stages, whereas an in-rack system can detect the fire early on and also has the ability to flood the cabinet with the suppression agent and extinguish the fire. In a room-wide system it can be difficult for the chemical agent to disperse within the IT equipment sufficiently to suppress a deep-seated fire within the equipment.
In-rack suppression systems are made with a Clean Agent chemical. This means there is no damage to your electronics and no clean-up after use. The system operates in two states – pre-alarm and fire alarm. On pre-alarm, power circuits can be switched off simultaneously with the alarm signal, isolating supporting electrical energy. On fire alarm, the extinguishing system is activated and the extinguishing agent vaporizes at the nozzle and is distributed throughout the cabinet to rapidly extinguish the fire. Separate outputs are available to activate external audible or visual alarms, as well as outputs for external power shut downs. The systems also have a control panel with display, fault and status LEDs and operating keys. Various models of in-rack systems are available, some of which can be used together to protect up to five combined cabinets.
In-rack fire suppression systems offer a highly sensitive smoke detection and fire extinguishing system for your electronic cabinets. For more in-depth information about this topic, check out A1’s Lunch & Learns for architects and engineers.
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