Server Room Fire Safety 101
Server rooms are integral to the upkeep of business functions, including running hundreds of computers, telecommunications operations and irreplaceable data storage. With all that electrical equipment, it’s no wonder that they are a prime spot for ignition. A server room fire can be one of the worst disasters that can befall a business, so here’s how to protect against them and prevent one ever happening to you.
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.
Carry out a risk assessment
A professional fire risk assessments is the first step in preventing a server room fire. A fire prevention specialist will be able to identify risks in an objective manner using guidance that is approved by multiple professional bodies.
You will come away from the risk assessment with a list of recommendations and the help of the officer involved in understanding why your server room presents and risk and how to mitigate these factors.
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’ll then simply have to update the risk assessment when your server room changes in any way.
Install a fire suppression system
Clean agent or non-volatile fire suppression systems are becoming more easily accessible and affordable. The investment is also a no-brainer for businesses whose server rooms are their lifeblood.
The problem with traditional sprinkler systems is that water can cause just as much damage to electrics as a fire can. Water can also cause short circuits which are yet another cause of fire in server rooms.
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.
Provide professional training for IT staff
Understanding how and when to use a fire extinguisher effectively has been shown to make a critical difference, save thousands of pounds worth of damage and keep people safe. If you require hands-on training and experience with your in-situ fire extinguishers, contact a fire safety training specialist and talk to them about educating your staff in server room fire prevention.
At City Fire Protection, we proudly provide a range of fire safety services for businesses around the UK. Whether you’d like a new fire suppression system installed, or you’d like your appliances to undergo PAT testing, our expert team can provide exactly what you need, whenever you need it. We even offer in-house fire safety training and risk assessments. If you’d like to know more about our comprehensive fire safety services, please get in touch with us today and we will be more than happy to help.