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Common fire hazards for data centres

protect your data centre from fireCrucial to the smooth running of many businesses, data centres present a unique set of challenges when it comes to fire safety. You’ll want to protect your valuable equipment and assets, while also ensure there is no costly downtime to your systems.

All commercial premises are required by law to have a fire risk assessment carried out in order to identify potential hazards, and data centres are no exception.

To help you establish the common fire hazards for data centres, we’ve collated some of the key areas to look at when ensuring your data centre is kept safe and secure. Tackling any of the following issues will go a long way to protecting your staff, visitors and your valuable assets.

Fires from outside

While most of the concern is generally focused on what’s going on inside the building which acts as the data centre, there are also threats from outside of the building which should be addressed.
Whether this is simply an accidental fire in a car park, or an arson attack on the building, it is hard to guard against the threat of fire externally – especially if your property borders another closely – so alarm and suppression systems are vital for a rapid response to help protect your data centre.

Wires and cables

As a standard component for any data centre, wires and cables will be prevalent. The data cables themselves may not hold the kind of energy to create a fire, but should be considered as part of the fuel. The real risk of fire comes from power cables, which, if faulty, could spark as a source of ignition and set other components or infrastructure on fire.

With this in mind, it’s important to have any cables carrying power checked regularly. You should also ensure that all your wiring and cables are kept in a neat and tidy fashion for clearer organisation – the more they are trampled, crushed and bent, the more likely they are to develop faults.

HVAC equipment

Usually operating in the background of most buildings, we forget that heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment (HVAC) is capable of assisting in keeping data centres cool and well-ventilated, but also poses a risk due to the motors and electrical components – as well as gaseous refrigerants.

This equipment needs to be well maintained and regularly checked in order to avoid it becoming a fire hazard. Where faults occur, follow them up and keep a log of all equipment checks.

Aeration spaces

Raised floors and suspended ceilings in data centres present an obvious hazard. With the enclosed nature of these spaces, it might be hard to spot a fire breaking out. In an effort to decrease the risk, your should use wires and cables in these areas which are less likely to overheat or deteriorate.

Combustible materials

The final key element to consider when attempting to protect your data centre against fire, is miscellaneous combustibles. This includes cardboard boxes, paperwork and any other items you might commonly find lying around. While they don’t present much of an immediate danger, you might not have considered them as a source of fuel for a fire before. By ensuring these items are cleared away regularly, and that nothing is left lying around in areas where equipment might overheat, you can deny any potential fires of the fuel to spread further.

At Elite Fire, we provide risk assessments and fire safety equipment for data centres to help you keep your people and assets safe. For more advice and assistance with protecting your data centre from fire hazards, simply contact our expert team today.