Is your server room a fire risk?
Server rooms are integral to the upkeep of business functions; running hundreds of computers, telecommunications operations and housing irreplaceable data storage.
However, a server room is vulnerable to fire.
A server room fire can be one of the worst disasters that can befall a business. Taking steps to protect your server room from fire does more than protect your computer equipment—it helps to safeguard your entire business.
Common causes of a server room fire
Electrical failure of equipment – Overloading plug sockets is a common problem that is overlooked. So too is short circuiting of electrical components such as switched or power inverters.
Overheating electronics – Cooling systems can fail or the room is not specified with enough ventilation which then cause components to overheat to the point that ignition is inevitable.
Subfloor wiring problems – Subfloor wiring can become damaged when subfloors are not strong enough, which will cause any number of problems, including overheating or sparks.
Fires that ignite nearby – Because server room walls often have many holes and conduits for cables to pass into adjoining rooms and offices, they are more vulnerable to fires that ignite nearby. When the fire reaches the server room it quickly engulfs it and it then becomes a dangerous source of deadly noxious gases.
Dirt and grease buildup – Cooling fans and other pieces of equipment readily attract dust and when this builds up it insulates the components and causes overheating. Once ignition occurs the dust is yet another ready source of fuel to the fire.
What steps can you take to manage the risk?
Carry out a Fire Risk Assessment
A professional Fire Risk Assessment is the first step in preventing a server room fire.
When designing a brand new server room, having a risk assessment as part of the design process will help make sure the server room is compliant with legislation from day one. You then simply have to update the risk assessment when your server room changes in any way.
Keeping your server room clean, clutter-free and well-maintained can help minimise the risk of fire. Unfortunately server rooms can sometimes end up becoming unofficial storage rooms too and the more combustible the materials in there, the higher the chance of a fire igniting and spreading quickly.
Carry out regular inspections
Schedule periodic inspections, both by employees and third parties, to check that your server room is safe and compliant. Visually check wires and power leads to make sure they aren’t frayed or damaged and get any problems fixed quickly. Get regular tests done on your power supply too.
Keep equipment cool
Keeping the server room cool helps to prevent equipment overheating and therefore contributes to lowering the fire risk. Install suitable cooling equipment and, given that it is likely it will be running continually, make sure it is well maintained to avoid it becoming a fire hazard in itself.
Install good fire detection and fire fighting equipment
Water can potentially do as much damage to your equipment as fire itself. Clean Agent Fire Suppression Systems limit damage to computer equipment and require little or no clean up after deploying. These systems are gas-based instead of fluid-based. They respond and suppress fire quickly and cleanly. Clean agent fire suppression systems can also extinguish fires inside enclosed equipment, making them ideal for technology applications.
You should also ensure you have the necessary Portable Fire Extinguisher provision available too; make sure employees are properly trained on the right extinguishers to use and know how to discharge them safely in the server room environment.
Ensure the room is well ventilated
Cooling the room sufficiently is half the battle. If the room isn’t reaching high temperatures then the chances of overheating are minimised and you are therefore preventing one of the causes of server room fires.
Protecting your server room from fire not only protects your computer equipment, it helps to safeguard your entire business and the people that work there.
If you would like some further guidance about steps you can take to reduce fire risks in your server room please Contact Us.