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Fire protection solutions for data centres

Early fire detection with TITANUS® air sampling smoke detectors

Data centres’ high densities of electric and electronic components can result in cable short circuits and smouldering fires. As a result of the rapid air circulation in these highly climate-controlled rooms, smouldering fires frequently go undetected, and may even develop for several days unnoticed. WAGNER developed its first aspirating smoke detection system specifically designed for data centre requirements as early as 1984. Company founder and Managing Director Dipl.-Ing. Werner Wagner recalls:

There was a fire in a data centre, and despite all the smoke, the fire alarm another company had installed did not sound. That was clearly a design flaw, because the climate control system was circulating the air in the data centre so quickly that the sensors never had a chance to respond. The system met VdS standards, but you can meet standards and still burn. The rapid air circulation meant that the smoke simply never reached the detectors. The data centre didn’t want to live with that risk. So we developed a new technology that we installed directly onto the computing hardware. We detected a quantity of air flow from the devices. After 18 to 20 seconds, our technology responded.

The patented and time-tested air sampling smoke detectors in the TITANUS® family provide maximum sensitivity; with the TITANUS RACK·SENS®, WAGNER has developed a customisable detector that integrates easily into servers or server cabinets. These reliable, sensitive air sampling smoke detectors are designed to protect rooms and equipment, and provide preventative protection in cable ducts. They can detect even the smallest quantities of smoke particles as early as possible, providing a head start that allows users to react quickly and keep damage to a minimum.

Thanks to LOGIC·SENS technology, they can detect incipient fires even before they are visible, while remaining secure against false alarms.

Residue-free extinguishing in data centres with the FirExting® gas extinguishing system

Should the fire alarm system notify the fire detection control panel that a fire has occurred, gaseous extinguishing agents have proven a highly effective method of suppressing data centre and server-room fires. WAGNER relies upon CO2 as an extinguishing agent in some circumstances, and on request it may also employ Novec 1230—but nitrogen is its preferred agent of choice.

As soon as the extinguishing systems direct the inert gas nitrogen into the extinguishing area, the nitrogen displaces the oxygen content in the air and puts the fire out. This gas is what makes WAGNER’s FirExting® fire extinguishing system an effective, residue-free method of fire suppression. Nitrogen is non-toxic, and as a natural component of the air we breathe (78% vol.), it has a similar density to air. In the event of a fire, the inert gas distributes quickly and homogeneously throughout the extinguishing area, and leaves no residue. Nitrogen supplies can also be stored easily in space-saving extinguishing cylinders.

Sound absorption keeps IT safe from vibrations

Gas extinguishing systems suppress fires quickly and effectively by flooding the protected area with highly pressurised inert gas. With conventional gas extinguishing systems, these high pressure levels often pose a problem: the rapid release of the gas can frequently cause unwanted vibrations, which can result in damage to hard drives. WAGNER fire protection uses specially developed sound absorbers to prevent vibrations when the extinguishing system is triggered. This sound pressure protection mechanism is mounted onto the system’s extinguishing nozzles, and lowers sound pressure levels to around 98 dB(A). The FirExting®SILENT fire protection system has VdS approval.
Flow regulators can also be installed on the extinguishing cylinder containers for use in interior rooms or to create smaller pressure relief surfaces. This so-called soft flooding ensures uniform flooding of the protected area, and prevents pressure peaks at the beginning of the extinguishing process.

Preventative fire protection in data centres with OxyReduct® active fire prevention

After a fire has been extinguished, it can be useful to employ OxyReduct®active fire prevention to keep fires from re-igniting. This oxygen-reduction system ensures that the lower oxygen concentrations established after extinguishing can be maintained for a theoretically unlimited amount of time, preventing the blaze from starting again and thus eliminating the need to cut power.

WAGNER’s OxyReduct® fire protection system generates nitrogen from the air in the room, and the ventilation system feeds it into the protected area, where it continuously reduces the proportion of oxygen in the vault to a heavily fire-retardant atmosphere. O2 concentrations of 15.9 % vol. are below the ignition thresholds of typical IT materials, so fires can no longer develop or spread.

Two-stage concept: Constantly under power and well protected

The fire protection concept especially for use in data centres offers an alternative to power shutt-off in case of fire and prevents the risk of reignition. At all times, the system ensures reliable protection against fire and fire-related consequential damage and can thus ensure permanent availability of the data centre.

The fire protection solution of the future combines the advantages of WAGNER systems, which have been especially developed and tested over many years:

  • Earliest possible fire detection with the air sampling smoke detector TITANUS®, in order to initiate countermeasures at an early stage
  • Fire extinguishing with the fire extinguishing system FirExting® to lower the oxygen level as quickly as possible in case of outbreak and spreading of fire
  • Oxygen reduction system OxyReduct® to maintain a low level of oxygen in the protected area

With this combination of modern and innovative systems, intelligent fire protection in the data centre is being redefined: Two-stage concept

Combining systems

VisuLAN® risk management makes it possible to monitor and manage a variety of building technology, communications, and security systems centrally. This minimises security risks and operating errors, and makes it possible to take appropriate emergency response action quickly, in order to prevent more serious damage.