There are a number of different strategies for fire suppression. In this video, you’ll learn about some fire suppression techniques and when they should be considered.
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If you’re around racks and racks of computers and lots of power, you’ll know that water is probably a bad thing. You don’t want to bring too much water into the environment. And so in data centers, you generally don’t have a lot of fire suppression systems based solely on water. Water is certainly an aspect of it, but generally you’re using other methods. And you’re finding out if there’s a fire based on first detection. Are you able to find smoke? Are you able to determine if there’s flame? There are actually detectors that will look for flames automatically and tell you if it actually sees a fire. And, of course, heat detectors that can identify when certain parts of the organization our certain parts of your data center floor are getting hotter than others.
You might want to be able to suppress with water. It may be a situation where you have a dry pipe, a wet pipe, or even a pre-action pipe of water. A dry pipe means that the pipe is always dry, and you’re only going to put water into the pipe if you identify a fire. The negative, of course, is that you have a little bit of time while that water goes through the pipe while things are still on fire. A wet pipe is little bit different. You already have water in the pipe, and there’s usually a system that detects heat or detects or melts away, and then the water comes out of the pipe to take care of the fire.
If you are planning to take care of any type of fire with water, there’s different methods that you can use. One is a dry pipe, which means the pipe that holds or has your sprinkler system in it is completely dry. And if a fire is identified, the pipe then fills up with water to the proper pressurization and hopefully puts out the fire. The challenge there is that it takes a little bit of time to finally fill that pipe up, but that may give you enough time to determine is the fire a real fire, or is it just a false alarm? You also have the option of a wet pipe, which means you can immediately discharge the water, and it will take care of the fire immediately. There’s no delay associated with that. And then there’s one kind of in the middle, called a pre-action suppression, where there’s already pressure and water in the pipe, but it won’t actually turn on until the temperature hits a certain amount, and that causes this pre-action system to go into effect and then start putting the water out onto the fire area.
In a data center, of course, you would like to be able to avoid using water, and we’ve used chemicals in the past to suppress fires. One that we’ve used historically is one called halon. It’s no longer manufactured. The idea is that you would put this chemical into the air that would reduce the amount of oxygen in the air and would cool things down a bit. Unfortunately, halon also had the side effect of removing ozone from the atmosphere. So we have alternatives that are a lot greener, a lot more environmentally safe, things like Dupont FM-200, for instance. And you’ll find that if you’re in a data center, there’s these big red tanks that are set up in a storeroom, and those will disperse that into the air in the case of a fire.