To ensure reliable IT operations 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it is important to take coordinated safety precautions. In high-availability IT structures, standard measures include redundancies in air conditioning technology, uninterruptible power supplies, and regular maintenance without interrupting operations. An intelligent technical fire protection system can prevent fire hazards and ensure personal, environmental and property protection. Fire alarm systems using highly sensitive, false alarm-proof air sampling smoke detectors provide basic protection. If a serious situation occurs, a supplementary automatic nitrogen-gas extinguishing system can suffocate the fire efficiently and with no residue. Many data centre operators rely on free cooling to get their high energy costs under control. WAGNER offers individual fire protection solutions for this purpose, too—systems that not only provide maximum safety and security, but also ensure that there is no need to cut off power if a fire occurs.
WAGNER’s fire protection concept is based on active fire prevention using the OxyReduct® oxygen reduction system. The active fire prevention system reduces the oxygen concentration within the protected area from the 20.9% vol. contained in normal ambient air to a reduced protective level. This is achieved using a controlled supply of nitrogen. This literally “takes the fire’s breath away,” preventing it from spreading further. The required nitrogen is physically extracted on site from the air in the room, a process which is both environmentally friendly and cost-effective.
The degree to which oxygen levels are reduced is always decided based on the primary materials under protection and their ignition thresholds. With IT facilities, the ignition thresholds of the substances present and the necessary design concentrations for oxygen reduction systems are defined in VdS 3527. Required oxygen concentrations for other protected areas are determined by WAGNER individually as needed, based on fire experiments. Planners must also account for whether the system needs to be designed in such a way that the area remains freely accessible to customers or staff at all times. As such, fire prevention involves many different protection concepts, each adapted perfectly to individual environments and protection objectives, and some involving multi-stage oxygen reduction.
Fire protection for IT system premises must include monitoring using an automatic fire alarm system. VdS Guideline 2095 must be observed when planning and installing automatic fire detection systems. Point-type smoke detectors are often used to monitor IT areas. It is important to ensure that they are configured appropriately for the area being monitored and the fire characteristics expected. Early fire detection in climate-controlled IT facilities is difficult with conventional point-type detectors, as the ventilation distorts these fire characteristics. As such, systems only detect fires once they have developed to a certain point. Air sampling smoke detectors (formerly known as aspirating smoke detectors) with high response sensitivity provide IT facilities with active protection, because they can detect fires in incipient stages even in areas of high air flow. WAGNER’s TITANUS® air sampling smoke detectors provide reliable early fire detection, and thus a crucial head start: just two grams of pyrolysis within 180 seconds are all it takes to set it off. Different alarm thresholds make it possible to distinguish among different fire situations, so that operators can react appropriately to the specific incident at hand. Early fire detection makes it possible to curtail the effects of incipient fires quickly and thus minimise potential damage.
Air sampling smoke detection systems can be configured using dual detector dependency to trigger an automatic extinguishing system in the event of a fire. Doing this fulfils the VDE 0833 requirement specifying that two independent detector should signal fire alarms.
Air sampling smoke detectors use what is known as a collective effect, which means that several air sampling points within a room draw in smoke at the same time. This greatly increases the air sampling smoke detector’s response sensitivity. Conventional point-type smoke detectors only trigger alarms once a previously defined smoke density level or increase in smoke density has been exceeded. Air sampling smoke detectors, on the other hand, can also reliably detect swirling particles of smoke.
Logically, these early detection systems monitor not only rooms, but also equipment, such as switching and server cabinets or measurement and control units—equipment that is usually the source of the fire, perhaps even the cause. WAGNER air sampling smoke detectors can, for example, be installed along the server racks, ensuring the earliest possible fire detection right where the risk of fire is greatest. With its TITANUS RACK·SENS®, WAGNER also offers a solution specially designed for installation in EDP, server and control cabinets. The integrated system of fire detection and suppression represents a cost-effective method of monitoring up to five cabinets using one system. It is suitable for devices with a construction height of 44.45mm (1U) with external extinguishing, or with a construction height of 88.9mm (2U) with integrated extinguishing.
Ensuring effective loss prevention in IT facilities is about coordinating and combining all measures appropriately based on the company’s individual protection objectives.
The Federal Office for Security in Information Technology (BSI)’s Basic IT Protection Guidelines can be used as a basis for designing any necessary safety measures, for example when constructing a server room. The Basic Protection Guidelines describe a procedure for identifying and implementing safety and security measures in IT facilities. They are designed to help IT facilities determine appropriate levels of protection, and include catalogues with recommendations regarding technical, organisational and personal safety and security.
It is important to include structural fire protection measures, such as using non-flammable construction materials and separating fire sections structurally (using a fire door, for example). Organisational measures are necessary as well, for example creating fire escape routes and fire brigade plans. Technical measures include equipping the IT facility with access controls, a fire alarm system and a fire extinguishing system. Creating a comprehensive fire protection concept early on is advisable, so that these various structural, organisational and technical fire protection measures will mesh logically and fulfil the company’s protection goals. Questions such as how and where fire sections will be divided, where flammable materials will be used, and which areas would benefit from a raised floor for laying pipe systems for early fire detection should all be addressed during the data centre planning stages. To this end, fire prevention specialists should be consulted as part of the IT system planning process.
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.
An automatically triggered extinguishing system should be installed in the IT area in case of fire. WAGNER primarily relies on gas extinguishing systems using inert gases, as they extinguish fires efficiently and with no residue. These gases also have the benefit of not being corrosive or electrically conductive. In the extinguishing process, the system floods the protected area with pressurised gas. With conventional extinguishing systems, there is a risk that delicate components will be damaged. WAGNER has developed a solution for this as well: a specially developed sound absorber (FirExting®SILENT) that protects noise-sensitive components by minimising the sound pressure generated when the extinguishing gases are released through the nozzles. Sound pressure levels that are normally above 130 dB(A) are reduced to around 98 dB(A). Interior rooms can also be equipped with WAGNER’s optional flow regulators to ensure soft flooding and allow smaller pressure relief surfaces.