Fire Protection Through Suppression Systems

2020 will see the explosive growth of data and with more reliance on data centres, safety of life and asset has never been more critical. In 2020, spending on data centre systems is expected to amount to 208 billion U.S. dollars*. In 2016 it was estimated that the cost of a data centre outage is $11,000 US dollars per minute**. These high value server rooms simply cannot afford the financial losses or downtime as a result of fire or damage to the facilities.

The main causes of fire in data centres are from servers overheating and electrical faults. That is why gaseous fire extinguishing systems are needed to protect their vital infrastructure. These fixed fire suppression systems protect important data centres against special hazards, fundamental for the safeguarding of critical facilities.

NEW Shanghai Fire Regulation

These gaseous fire extinguishing systems need monitoring and it is demanded by the regulations. The Shanghai Engineering Construction Code – Technical Standard for Internet of Things System of Fire Protection Facilities,  Article 4.6.2, stresses that the sensing settings of the gas fire extinguishing system and carbon dioxide fire extinguishing system IoT monitoring should meet the following requirements:

  1. Manual and automatic actuation information on gas fire control panels and information on system alarms, discharges and malfunctions shall be collected and displayed.
  2. System pressure leak sensor and extinguishing agent mass sensor should be installed.
  3. An airtight sensor in the protection enclosure area should be provided.

气体灭火系统和二氧化碳灭火系统物联监测的感知设置应符合如下规定:

  1. 应采集显示气体灭火控制盘手动和自动的信息和系统报警,喷放和故障的信息。
  2. 应设置系统压力泄露传感器,灭火剂质量传感器。
  3. 宜设置气体防护区域的气密传感器。
The Shanghai Engineering Construction Code Chapter 4.6.2
The Shanghai Engineering Construction Code DG/TJ 08-2251-2018

It is implied in regulations that the gaseous systems leak – hence the requirement for at least annual checking for loss of contents. Given that the gaseous systems are designed specifically to the individual need of the data centre e.t.c, any loss of agent may mean that they would not fully extinguish the fire.

In addition to the Shanghai Fire Code above, the two most widely followed regulations for clean agent fixed fire extinguishing systems are ISO 14520 and NFPA 2001. Both requires cylinders to be checked every six months and for liquefied agents a loss of more than 5% in agent quantity requires them to be refilled or replaced.

CASE STUDY – Leading Chinese Data Centre Bao Cloud implements 24/7 monitoring of fire system

BACKGROUND: One data centre decided to go above and beyond minimal regulatory compliance in improving their fire safety measures. Bao Cloud is one of many data centres in Shanghai, with several multi-national companies in China storing data in their servers. Starting in 2018-2020, Bao Cloud is a cut above the rest by implementing continuous monitoring of agent contents in their fixed fire suppression systems to increase their asset safety.

ISSUE: As a mission critical data company, Bao Cloud recognises the importance of ensuring agent contents in their fire suppression systems are constantly full in order to extinguish fires in the event it breaks out.

SOLUTION: As one of the largest data centres in China wanting to protect their people and facilities, in September 2018, Bao Cloud contacted Coltraco Ultrasonics to protect their facility and ensure that their FM200 systems are always full. Coltraco Ultrasonic’s General Manager in China, Mr David Cao, successfully completed installation of the Permalevel® MULTIPLEX with monitoring points on 12 FM-200® cylinders.

With the installation of the Permalevel® MULTIPLEX, Bao Cloud has the guarantee that their fixed fire systems contain the sufficient agent required to extinguish the fire, with 24/7 remote access to the systems status that notifies the user if a cylinder has leaked. The Permalevel® MULTIPLEX provides an uninterruptible power supply and remote real-time monitoring, protecting critical assets against fire risk.

permalevel FM200 system

Continuously Monitor

A dynamic system needs monitoring. They are “dynamic” because contents of liquefied gaseous agent (e.g. CO2, clean agents etc) are highly pressurised which leads to risk of loss of contents through accidental discharge or seepage through the openings such as the valves. Annual or semi-annual maintenance inspections are a minimum requirement but still fails to deal with the probability of leakage for the 364 days per annum in the interim between certification checks.

If the hazard is special and the infrastructure critical then there is a case for the constant monitoring of the very fire suppression systems that aim to deliver the protection. Inspection should include an evaluation that the extinguishing system continues to provide adequate protection for the risk.

Protect Your Assets

One such solution is the Permalevel® MULTIPLEX which is a fixed fire suppression container agent monitoring device, designed for permanent contents verification by monitoring liquid levels using ultrasonics and data relay. The Permalevel® MULTIPLEX is designed to ensure that fire  suppression  systems  are  always  fully operational by ensuring no accidental discharge has occurred, which could affect the effectiveness of the overall fire protection system, in the event of a fire at a data centre.

By the implementation of constant monitoring of gaseous extinguishing systems, data centres can ensure critical safety. Continuous monitoring and Safesite® technologies protect high value assets such as Bao Cloud Data Centre against the risk of downtime and damaged assets.

*https://www.statista.com/statistics/314596/total-data-center-systems-worldwide-spending-forecast/

** https://data-economy.com/data-centre-downtime-hidden-costs-fire-suppression/

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