Advances in Data Room Protection

There are special challenges associated with accomplishing effective fire detection and suppression in the modern data room. Even a small fire will potentially have far reaching and expensive consequences as businesses become more and more reliant on their information records. The loss of data even on a short term basis will disrupt business life and potentially have a serious impact on that all important bottom line.
All of which goes to underline the fact that it’s never been more important to ensure that data rooms are fully protected by the most effective and efficient options available.
So, when a well known Facility Management company were commissioned to build a new data centre on the Isle of Man, one of the immediate key priorities was to ensure that the rooms they were building had full fire protection at every level. Nobel Fire Systems was called into action at a very early stage to advise and install the most appropriate system for the job. An automatic fire suppression system was essential of course, but part of the NFS brief was to recommend the system that would provide the best possible protection at an affordable price. Always a critical factor in these days of economic austerity! Another important point was that the client demanded that the occupied areas were visually clean and safe for personnel – Nobel is renowned for its ability to work with the most demanding of design criteria – so absolutely no problem!
Which system is fit for purpose?
The initial consideration for the Nobel team was the type of extinguishment so the choice came down to chemical or inert gas systems. In the end the decision was made to use IG 55 inert gas on the basis that it offers so many significant benefits most notably its effectiveness, both in terms of extinguishment and cost and its environmental sensitivity.
The new data centre is located in the basement of an existing building and consists of three main rooms each now fully protected by the Nobel IG 55 system, with all of the mechanical equipment installed to give the facility of covering a fourth at a later date. Phase 2 (the Ground floor) is scheduled to be completed by Sept 2011.
Space Saving
The current system consists of a single bank of 12 cylinders sized to the largest room volume and which can be deployed into any of the three rooms as required. This method is more cost effective than fitting separate systems for each area with the additional benefit of valuable space savings since fewer cylinders are required overall. In the event of a fire breaking out, the IG 55 system works by displacing air in order to reduce the oxygen available in the area of the fire to a level where combustion can no longer be supported. However, the Nobel technical team has ensured that as the data rooms are sometimes manned, on activation, the system will only reduce the oxygen content to a level that remains safe to people who might be in the rooms. To reinforce this fact, Nobel always provides effective training at handover and also provides regular risk assessments with augmented user contact during planned maintenance visits.
Early Warning System
Each of the rooms in the new data centre has standard smoke detection to activate the IG 55 system. In addition, each room also has had its own VESDA (Very Early Smoke Detection) system supplied and fitted by Nobel as the initial early warning signal. The VESDA system is highly sensitive and will immediately pick up the slightest concentrations of smoke by continuously sampling the room air. This sophisticated system will not activate the IG 55 system but it will alert the user to the possibility of smoke in the room via an audible, visual alarm.
While the VESDA system will play an integral role in protecting the building, by design, data rooms are not always occupied and so the automated systems is an absolute must in providing the overall 24 hour protection required.
Why Nobel Fire Systems?
Nobel completed the entire project quickly, efficiently and to the complete satisfaction of the customer. There’s no doubt that fire damage to a data room can have far reaching and lasting consequences. Choosing the right provider of a fire protection system cannot be based on anything less than absolute trust, confidence and track record. Nobel Fire Systems was awarded this demanding project for a number of key reasons.
1. An acceptance by all parties that effective fire protection is essential.
2. There is however no one-size fits all solution to this type of problem.
3. Nobel has an enviable market leading reputation in this area.
4. The Company has a wide range of products and systems to allow the most appropriate solution to be offered to meet specific individual needs.
5. All the installation work was carried out by Nobel’s own specialist team of fitters.
6. The Company was able to demonstrate that the best and most appropriate solution could still be delivered in full, on time and within the given budget.