To address critical gaps in knowledge about data center fire prevention, the Fire Protection Research Foundation released a new report, "Validation of Modeling Tools for Detection Design in High Air Flow Environment," as the result of a project in partnership with Hughes Associates and FM Global. The report validates a model that provides reliable analysis of smoke detection in data centers and guidance to the technical committees for NFPA 75, Fire Protection of Information Technology Equipment, and NFPA 76, Fire Protection of Telecommunications Facilities.
Fire prevention and detection is critical to safeguarding data centers which hold critical business and organizational information around the world. Globally, spending on these facilities will be an estimated $149 billion this year, according to Gartner Group.
In the past few years, the equipment in data centers has changed significantly, which has placed increased demands on HVAC systems. As a result, airflow containment solutions are being introduced to increase energy efficiency. From a fire safety design perspective, the use of airflow containment creates a high airflow environment that dilutes smoke, which poses challenges for adequate smoke detection, and affects the dispersion of fire suppression agents.
“While data centers have become increasingly important in housing digital information, sufficient smoke detection is a challenge with data center cooling systems,” says Amanda Kimball, a research project manager for the Foundation. “This research included a series of simulations with various smoke detector spacing, types of fires, and air flows which gave us important guidance on smoke detection placement and installation.”