Focus on data centers: Fire and life safety

Designing efficient and effective data centers and mission critical facilities is a top priority for consulting engineers. Engineers discuss fire and life safety, fire suppression, and the complexity of data centers.

01/21/2013


Participants

  • Cyrus Gerami, PE, LEED, CxA, Associate, Senior Project Engineer/Manager, exp Global Inc., Maitland, Fla.
  • Kerr Jonstone, IEng, MIET, Senior Electrical Engineer, CH2M Hill, Glasgow, Scotland 
  • Keith Lane, PE, RCDD/NTS, LC, LEED AP, President, Lane Coburn & Assocs., Bothell, Wash. 
  • James McEnteggart, PE, Vice President, Primary Integration Solutions Inc., Charlotte, N.C.
  • Robert M. Menuet, PE, Senior Principal, GHT Ltd., Arlington, Va. 
  • Brian Rener, PE LEED AP, Electrical Platform Leader and Quality Assurance Manager, M+W Group, Chicago, IL.

Fire/Life safety

CSE: What unique fire suppression systems have you specified or designed in mission critical facilities and data centers?

Johnstone: For different clients we have used various suppression systems, and while Terremark employed a water mist system within its data center, we have used other methodologies. A project in Budapest (Hungary) employed a nitrogen-based system, which for code compliance required a “live” test for the local authorities. In addition we also have experience with a CO2 suppression installation for generator containers, while an argonite gas suppression system was retrofitted into an existing live data center without any impact on its operation.

Rener: The usual suspects such as preaction, FM200, and inergen. However, we have occasionally worked with water mist systems in auxiliary areas like generator rooms.

CSE: How have the costs and complexity of fire protection systems changed in recent years?

Johnstone: In our experience there has been no unforeseen increase in fire suppression costs and they have typically remained in line with other costs. The information, however, that is available to site operations staff regarding the operation and performance of fire protection systems has improved dramatically. This increased performance and operation information enables maintenance staff to interrogate fire networks, thereby improving risk management and mitigation.

CSE: What are some important factors to consider when designing a fire and life safety system? What things often get overlooked?

Johnstone: With gaseous solutions, things that often get overlooked and require to be considered include:

· Overpressurization of the space and pressure relief

· “Asphyxiant” nature of gaseous systems for welfare of occupants

· Gaseous removal on accidental discharge. Accidental discharge would not be attended by fire authorities; therefore, removal of accidental discharge is by the client.

There are a number of important factors to consider when designing a fire and life safety system, and the fundamental and most important consideration is: Are we designing to protect life, or life and property? Once determined, we can design the fire and safety system to the required category. One thing that can often get overlooked is the probability of false alarms due the nature of the building and the sensitivity of the devices installed. This then introduces an additional complexity when commissioning the system in terms of introducing double-knock systems to mitigate against false alarms, which can result in loss of time and cost to the facility.



Gerardo , Non-US/Not Applicable, Mexico, 02/14/13 11:39 AM:

The application of double-interlocked pre-action systems in small data center computer rooms have proven both economic and practically maintenance free for over 18 years since the original installation. Periodic inspection and preventive maintanance have been key to continuous operation of the site.
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Your leaks start here: Take a disciplined approach with your hydraulic system; U.S. presence at Hannover Messe a rousing success
Hannover Messe 2016: Taking hold of the future - Partner Country status spotlights U.S. manufacturing; Honoring manufacturing excellence: The 2015 Product of the Year Winners
Inside IIoT: How technology, strategy can improve your operation; Dry media or web scrubber?; Six steps to design a PM program
Getting to the bottom of subsea repairs: Older pipelines need more attention, and operators need a repair strategy; OTC preview; Offshore production difficult - and crucial
Digital oilfields: Integrated HMI/SCADA systems enable smarter data acquisition; Real-world impact of simulation; Electric actuator technology prospers in production fields
Special report: U.S. natural gas; LNG transport technologies evolve to meet market demand; Understanding new methane regulations; Predictive maintenance for gas pipeline compressors
Warehouse winter comfort: The HTHV solution; Cooling with natural gas; Plastics industry booming
Managing automation upgrades, retrofits; Making technical, business sense; Ensuring network cyber security
Designing generator systems; Using online commissioning tools; Selective coordination best practices

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role that compressed air plays in manufacturing plants.
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.
This article collection contains several articles on strategic maintenance and understanding all the parts of your plant.
click me