Fire Suppression: Protect Your Data

Fire suppression systems are a common sight in offices and industrial buildings. They are designed to automatically stop or control a fire to keep information and workers safe. However, if your business requires many servers, your need for an excellent fire suppression system increases drastically.

Smoke detector

Do You Need Fire Suppression?

Every building can benefit from an automatic fire suppression system because you can’t be everywhere at once. A system ensures you, your workers and visitors are kept safe during a fire. Even if you are unaware of the fire, your automatic system kicks in to stop the threat.

If you have a server room or a data center, your chances of fire in your office increase. Therefore, having a fire suppression system is an absolute must. With so many servers, constantly working, these rooms get hot, and if electrical equipment fails, a fire could easily start. You need a fire suppression system to protect your data and people. In the event of a fire, a fire suppression system automatically turns on to douse the fire without the need for human interaction. These systems stop a fire in its tracks to keep your data safe and secure during a fire.

The goal of the suppression system is to detect the fire when it first starts. Then, using the water or gasses in your suppression system, control the fire. It stops the fire before it spreads to more servers or different areas in your business.

Classes of Fires

Not all fires are the same, and not every fire can be treated the same. In fact, some fire suppression methods may be ineffective on certain fires or even make them worse. To first understand fire suppression, you must understand the different classes of fires:

  • Class A: Class A fires have ordinary combustibles like wood, trash and paper.
  • Class B: Class B fires burn with flammable liquids or gases like gasoline, paint and propane.
  • Class C: Class C fires are electrical equipment fires, but once the power source has been removed, it turns into another class, based on the substance burning.
  • Class D: Class D fires have combustible metals as their fuel, which includes potassium, sodium and magnesium.
  • Class K: Class K fires are those that burn in cooking oils and greases like animal and vegetable fats.

Types of Fire Suppression

Overhead water sprinklers are the most basic fire suppression system, and they are appropriate for class A fires. When these sprinklers sense smoke, they spray water throughout the office, drenching the fire. Sprinklers are one of the most popular options for fire suppression because they work well.

Sprinkler system

Another option for stopping fires in your server room is an inert gas fire suppression system. The goal of this kind of system is to stop the fire by reducing the oxygen level. Instead of using water, it unleashes inert gasses. This combination of gasses overwhelms the oxygen and reduces it to below 15 percent but above 12 percent. At this low level, there isn’t enough oxygen for the fire to consume, forcing it to burn out. However, keeping it above 12 percent means there is still enough oxygen for people who are inside the room. Common inert gas systems include:

  • Inergen: Inergen is a mixture of 50 percent Argon, 42 percent Nitrogen and 8 percent CO2, and it is appropriate for class A and class B fires, including live electrical equipment risks.
  • Proinert: Also called Argonite, Proinert is a combination of 50 percent Argon and 50 percent Nitrogen. It is appropriate for class A and class B fires and live electrical equipment risks.
  • CO2: CO2 is Carbon Dioxide, and it is suitable for class A, B and C fires.

A third popular option is using chemical or synthetic gas. Unlike inert gas, the goal of this system is not to reduce oxygen. Similar to water, the chemicals and gasses are designed to cool the fire. As the temperature drops, the fire quickly burns out. Common chemical/synthetic gas fire suppression systems include:

  • FM200: FM200 has concentrated levels of 7.9 to 8.5 percent that absorb heat to reduce a fire’s temperature. It is suitable for class A and B fires and live electrical equipment risks.
  • Novec: Novec is similar to FM200, but it is more environmentally friendly.

Advantages of Automatic Fire Suppression

The first and most obvious advantage of a fire suppression system is that it stops fires and saves your information. Even if you are unaware that a fire has started in your server room, the system is aware. Without the need of human intervention, it starts working to quickly end the fire, so you don’t lose priceless and irreplaceable data.

Gas systems are especially fast at stopping fires. Inert gas systems take about 1-2 minutes to unleash enough gas to lower the oxygen level. Most of these systems succeed in extinguishing the fire in less than a minute. Even faster, synthetic gas fire suppressions take about 10 seconds to release its gas and cool the fire.

In addition to being fast, there are plenty of options from which you can choose. Whether it’s a mixture of Argon, Nitrogen and CO2 or 100 percent Nitrogen, you’ll find a system that works for your business and with which you feel comfortable. Plus, many of the options are not hazardous to humans or the environment when used in the proper amounts.

The final advantage is that if you choose an inert or synthetic gas option, there is generally no mess to clean up, except for any potential fire damage. They tent to not leave any residue behind or puddles of water or liquid, as with water suppression.

Disadvantages of Automatic Fire Suppression

Whatever fire suppression system you choose, there are some disadvantages to consider. Water suppression systems are the most popular, but they pose a risk when used in server rooms. Firstly, they require a large amount of clean up to remove the expelled water after the fire has been doused. Secondly, the water may actually worsen the damage to the servers or other IT equipment. Your information may be safe from a fire, but you may still lose it to water damage.

Inert gas fire suppression systems are one of the safest and is even considered a green option. However, if the system does not work properly, and oxygen falls below 12 percent, it poses serious danger to humans. If the oxygen falls to 10 to 12 percent, the first effects of asphyxiation are visible. Once the oxygen falls below 10 percent, the threat of death increases.

Chemical and synthetic gas fire suppression systems are also quite safe for your servers. Like inert gas, however, they pose dangers to humans when the systems are not designed correctly. High doses of the chemicals are toxic to humans. As with inert gas systems, it is important to ensure your system is in proper working condition at all times.

Other Factors to Consider for Your Fire Suppression

In addition to having a good fire suppression system, there are a few other factors to consider that will help with the fire. Firstly, help prevent a fire in the first place by ensuring your server room or data center is properly cooled with air conditioning. The most common cooling system is PAC (precision air conditioning), which offers close control air conditioning. This system doesn’t just keep the room cool, it also reduces humidity and filtrates particles, which reduces the risk of fire.

Second, you must choose the right system and backup system. The best type of fire suppression system is one that is gas based because it won’t cause further damage to the room or servers. However, even with a gas system, you need a water suppression system as a backup in the event the gas doesn’t work.

If you do choose to have a water suppression backup system, you need to be prepared for potential leaks when it isn’t being used. This is where water detection sensors on the floor help. They will notify you if water is leaking, which may damage your servers or even cause an electrical fire.

Before the fire even starts, make sure your server room is properly sealed. If the room isn’t sealed, the PAC system won’t work as well, and the gas fire suppression system will leak out of the room if it is activated, making it less effective.

You’ll also want an emergency power off (EPO) function. This allows you to turn off your servers with one quick action. Unfortunately, this does cause damage to your data, but overall, it helps you. If you do need to use a water suppression system, turning off the servers reduces the damage they receive. Turning off the servers may even completely stop the fire, if it was caused by an electrical malfunction in one of the servers.

Don’t put your data, business or workers in danger. A fire suppression system is the best way to keep your server room or data center protected in the event of a fire. Stop the spread and ensure your important date is not destroyed with an excellent fire suppression system.

Top Benefits of Fire Suppression Systems

Fire suppression systems are becoming increasingly famous all around the world due to their outstanding benefits. Based upon the principle: “Prevention is much better than a cure”, these modern systems provide fast, on-site protection from fire, allowing for immediate response during those initial critical minutes.

Fire suppression systems are made up of several mechanical and electrical components, including the control panel, audible alarms, smoke detection and fire suppression cylinder.

How does a Fire suppression System Work?

This system works in three ways. First and foremost, it detects smoke. Next on, it uses a powerful Oxygen reduction system combined with a heat removal system to reduce oxygen levels by 12-14% and reduce heat by around 6%. A combination of electronic sounders and bells are connected to the control panel, so when the system detects smoke, the alarm goes off. It takes about 30 seconds for the fire suppression agent to be discharged.

FM-200 fire suppression system at NERSC

Benefits of Fire Suppression Systems

As an increasing number of companies are using these systems to protect their buildings and employees, it is worth studying the benefits of a fire suppression system.

  • Safe & Very Easy to Use: these systems are specially designed to activate automatically, which means they do not require human intervention. However, they offer a manual override option in certain cases of emergency.
  • Early Detection: compared to the previous generation of fire detection systems, these modern fire suppression devices offer immediate response to fire and smoke.
  • Eliminate Fuel Sources: the electrical or fuel source of a fire contained within equipment will more than often continue to feed the fire long after it has been ignited. A huge benefit of fire suppression systems is that they eliminate this fuel source automatically due to the powerful agents used.
  • Can be Used Almost Everywhere: fire suppression limited systems can be installed in almost any environment, from simple storage units to archive centres, telecommunication or computer servers. Companies can choose either of the two types of fire suppression systems: synthetic agent or inert gas. Regardless of the choice, the system operates efficiently to protect the property and the lives of the employees.
  •  Tested to Ensure Success & Pre-Engineered: all of these systems are tested in stringent laboratories, being designed to comply with all fire & safety regulations. These devices are pre-tested to extinguish any type of fire.


The Bottom Line

Fire Suppression Systems are definitely the hot trend in the business world, both in the UK and in the US.

3 tips when choosing fire suppression system specialists

Remember – fire prevention is imperative, and can save lives. A fire suppression system is designed to protect you home or business, and should be installed to provide a safeguard in the event of a fire. There are various fire suppression systems on the market, including water-based solutions, as well as fire suppression systems which reduce gases or chemical agents. When it comes to fire safety, choosing the best fire suppression specialist doesn’t have to be a chore. In fact, there are many qualified and experienced companies that specialize in the sale and installation of this equipment. However, you will need to do your research to ensure that you receive good customer service and the best value-for-money. Here are three tips when choosing a fire suppression specialist.

Argonite automatic fire suppression system server room

1. Use a price comparison website

A price comparison website will enable you to compare and contrast services of fire suppression specialists in your local area, providing you with all the information you need to make an informed decision. You will be able to compare criteria such as price, type of equipment, and installation costs – saving you a lot of time, money and hassle. Companies that manufacture this type of equipment include Aspect Fire Solutions, Novec, Nobel Fire Systems, and Amerex Fire International.

2. Use a referral

Check out third-party review websites that feature reviews that have been left by people who have purchased fire suppression equipment in the past, or have used a fire suppression specialist previously. This will enable you to find out about the customer service and value-for-money that can be expected when enlisting the services of a particular company. Alternatively, you might want to ask friends or colleagues if they have used fire suppression equipment before in the past, and whether they can recommend a particular service. Remember – when checking out third party review websites, consider all ratings and reviews that have been left by customers before enlisting the services of a particular company.

3. Contact companies directly

Use the internet and browse through the websites of companies in your area that specialize in fire suppression services. Once you have two or three companies that you might be interested in, you can contact them directly and ask for a full and final quote. You might also want to ask the customer representative how soon they will be able to install the equipment, how long it will take, and whether you can be present in your home or business during the installation process. For example residential suppression systems that use a water sprinkler may be labor intensive, as the system will need to rely on a separate plumbing assembly.

Fire Suppression Systems – FM 200

FM 200 is a colorless, environmentally friendly and clean fire suppression agent that’s electrically non conductive and is safe for humans. FM 200 extinguishes flames mainly through heat-absorption and leaves no residue, which minimizes the down-time after a fire. FM 200 suppression-systems are respected and accepted worldwide with over 100, 0000 installations in many different countries. It’s stored under pressure as-a liquid in cylinders, and will only require a small storage “foot-print.” It’s discharged via a piping network to the protected area.

How It Works
It mainly extinguishes fires through absorption of heat and a chemical-reaction at the flames’ front. It’s electrically non-conductive & non corrosive, and leaves no oily deposits or residue. If complimented with a post-discharge extract system, the clean-up time is basically kept to minimum.

-Colorless, odorless, gaseous fire-suppression
-It’s safe for human use in busy areas
-It’s ideal for all areas of critical-risk
-It requires a small storage area
-It has a zero ozone depleting-potential
-It is approved for use-on class A and B fires

-Data centers and computer suites
-Gas turbine-enclosures
-Telecommunications enclosures
-Data storage, archives and museums
-Power generation

Phoenix FM-200 Layout

The key advantage of using FM 200 fire suppression-system, is the small-amount of agent that’s required to suppress fires. This basically means fewer cylinders are needed, thus less wastage of storage space.

FM 200 systems can reach extinguishing-levels in just 10 seconds or even less, stopping the ordinary electrical, combustible, and flammable liquid-fires before they can cause any significant damage. FM 200 will extinguish a fire quickly, meaning there will be less damage and lower repair costs.

FM 200 is classified as a clean-agent meaning that it can be used in occupied spaces/areas. The safety of FM 200 fire suppression-environments has been proven for over-a-decade of real world experience and has been validated by scientific studies. The system takes up less storage area than most of the other fire suppressants. It doesn’t deplete stratospheric-ozone, and has little/minimal impact on our environment.

Fire Detection And Alarms

Fire detection systems have been included in architectural plans since the early 1900s and now form an integral component of any building structure. Unfortunate fire accidents may occur from various unforeseen reasons and small controllable fire outbreaks can escalate to consume an entire building within a matter of minutes if not detected. Technological advancements have however been of great utility in many sectors including fire detection and alarm systems. These technologies are able to identify conditions that are likely to induce fire outbreak including smoke, heat and water.

A fire detection and alarm systems basically refers to electronic equipment designed to detect presence of fire or smoke and relay an alarm both in audio and visual modes. This comprehensive system comprises of other smaller sub-systems that work together to alert people of any suspicious levels of heat or smoke and modern integrations include water-flow sensors. Fire detection is now a statutory enforced requirement for all buildings to reduce the risks of outbreaks.

Planning fire detection systems
In the UK, there is enforced code that fire detection systems are mandatory for all buildings. Planning often begins with setting the fire protection objectives/goals, this involves evaluating the model building codes to identify minimum mandated protection required. After goals have been established, the fire alarm designing team specifies details of the components, interfaces and procedures required to fulfill those objectives. The equipments are then designed to specific needs and standards of that building as mandated. Aspect fire solutions provide alarm systems and professional assistance in advice as well as planning and actual installation.

Components of fire detection systems
There are various parts that operate together to enable effective detection and prevention they including the following;
FACP/FACU (fire alarm control panel/unit)
This is the main component that acts as the hub, which monitors the inputs and ability of the system to function as intended. It also controls the output and relay of information to the necessary departments.

PPS (primary power supply) and Secondary power
This refers to an alternating current (120V or 240V) from commercial distribution for residential application. For non-residential applications, the fire alarm system may use dedicated branched circuits. Secondary power is basically used as backup in case of PPS failure.

Initiating device
This component serves as input to the FACP and can be manual or automated as preferred. These devices include heat and smoke detectors as well as pull stations. Modern developments include water-flow sensors.

Notification and safety interfaces
Notification appliances mainly include flashlights, horns or bells that inform people on the action to take mostly evacuating the room incase of fire. Safety interfaces refer to the building design which should integrate easy maneuvering (people’s escape and rescue unit entry) as well as fire and smoke spread control. It is mainly exemplified through exit doors, smoke chambers as well as circuit differentiation for controlled spread.

At Aspect fire solutions, we value the need for ultimate protection against fire and provide efficient fire detection plans for any kind of building to ensure the same. The alarm systems also include emergency pre-recorded and momentary voice messages to aid evacuation. We provide expert professionals who will enable you come up with the most effective plan for your building to ensure optimum protection and reaction to fire situations.

A Review of The Fire Suppression Systems FM200

FM-200 refers to a fast and clean agent for extinguishing fire that is accepted world over. It is the most suitable agent to provide protection in areas that are mostly enclosed. They are mainly preferred for use in areas that the safety of personnel is important. It is usually stored as a liquid in cylinders that are packed under pressure and this requires small “footprint” storage. It is mainly discharged using a pipe when it is being used in areas that are protected.

How does it work?
It is able to extinguish fire mainly using its ability to absorb heat as well as undergoing chemical reaction at the front of the flame. These two properties enable it to extinguish fire in a fast manner and hence protects the enclosed areas from suffering huge damages that would have been caused by the fire. It is also advantageous in that it is a poor conductor of electricity and it is also non-corrosive. When it is used it does not leave any oily deposits or residue. If it is used together with a post discharge system of extraction, the time used to clean up the area is greatly reduced.

The amazing features
The FM-200 has several features that enable it carry out its functions easily and in an efficient manner. Some of the features include:
• Odorless, colorless and gaseous fire suppression
• It is safe for use in areas that are occupied or busy
• It requires a small storage area
• It is ideal to be used in areas considered to be of a critical risk
• It does not contain elements that have a potential to deplete the ozone layer
• It is approved to be used in the fight against class A and B fires
• It has been proven through the huge number of installations done worldwide

It is essential to use in the following areas;
• Data centres and computer suites
• Power generation plants
• Archives, Museums and archives
• Enclosures housing telecommunications and gas turbines
In order to ensure that the FM-200 fire suppression systems are able to work efficiently, one ought to ensure that they are regularly serviced and proper maintenance practices are well observed. These ought to be carried out according to the recommendations provided by the set relevant standards for the systems. They should also be inspected regularly by qualified fire suppression systems specialists so as to ascertain that their liquid levels are at the required levels for them to perform well in case of a fire disaster.

To have a look at a business that sells the FM-200 and many more fire suppression systems click here.

What are the types of fire suppression systems in the market?

There are some events in life that cannot be anticipated such as the outbreak of fires. If left unnoticed it can cause a lot of damage to expensive equipment and even affect a property. While in extreme cases can prove to be fatal for anyone that might be unfortunate enough to be trapped in such areas.

This is why it’s always good to install the appropriate fire suppression systems as a safeguard incase of such eventualities. There are many different systems a person can choose from to make their offices safe from any kind of fire that may break out. For the most part, apart from water-based solutions, these invaluable systems come in 2 categories, which are inert gases, and chemical agents.

The first variety work by releasing inert gases into the affected area and effectively reduce the oxygen levels (to approximately 15%) to prevent combustion and kill out the fire. These fire suppression systems are suitable for class A (wood, plastic, rubber, cloth), class B (flammable gases, liquids, oils) and class C (energized equipment) fires. However, there is a high risk of asphyxiation to anybody that might be trapped in the areas where they are released. To counter this threat, most of these systems come with automatic alarms to warn anyone in the vicinity of the fire to evacuate in time.

On the other hand, chemical fire suppression systems are appropriate for enclosures that might have materials that react poorly to water or inert gases. They work by releasing molecules that can absorb heat and effectively lower the temperature of such fires to stop their propagation. Due to their suppressed storage, these systems can significantly damage the structural integrity of the areas they might be deployed in. It is therefore very important to take note of this, when choosing the ideal fire suppression systems for your business premises distinct needs.