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Fire suppression systems prevent or extinguish the spread of fire in a building. Fire suppression systems use a mix of wet agents and/or dry chemicals to suppress equipment fires. When fires are stopped early loss of life is minimal since fire-related deaths occur once the fire has moved past the early stages. Building and internal system damage is also reduced if the fire isn’t given time to spread, making fire suppression systems almost as important in areas where there are rarely people, but there is lots of key equipment, like in data centres.
Fire suppression systems can be either manual or automatic, manual ones operate with human input, like when a fire alarm is pressed. Automatic fire suppression systems operate without human intervention allowing a fire to be dealt with before anyone is even aware there is an issue. Automatic fire suppression systems are key to protecting both isolated areas and employee or inhabitants.
The type of fire suppression system used in a building depends on what the building is used for. Water, for example, is used in areas with ordinary flammable items, like paper, wood, etc. In a data centre, there are two options to consider.
Option 1 is to reduce the amount of oxygen in the room. This is done by using Argon or Nitrogen, and sometimes a little CO2, to displace the oxygen. When the oxygen level is reduced to below 15%, the fire will be suppressed. It is important to note, however, that the oxygen level must remain above 12% to maintain life within the room.
Option 2 is designed to cool the data centre down. Chemical/synthetic fire suppression agents cool and eventually put out the fire, without reducing the oxygen in the area. As less gas is required, storage cylinders tend to be smaller than the gas cylinders used in option one. These systems can be toxic if not correctly installed, so it is essential to fully understand, not only the fire suppression system but also the environment it will be installed.
If you have any questions about fire suppression systems or are looking to have one installed, please contact us here.