IT Server Room Fire Suppression

April 10th, 2017

The IT server room of a leading London based children’s activity venue is now better protected thanks to the installation of an IT server room fire suppression system provided by Tecserv UK.

KidZania is a real life role play experience for 4-14 year olds, blending learning and reality with entertainment. There are 19 Kidzania destinations worldwide, and its latest venue in Westfield, London continues to blend education with entertainment in a 75,000 s.q. ft child-size city where Kids can independently choose to visit more than 60 entertaining activities that include a bank, hospital, police station, fire station, aviation academy and a theatre. Each activity offers a unique role-play experience where kids can gain an understanding of what it would be like to be a pilot, doctor, fireman or actor when they leave school. These experiences help them to learn financial literacy, careers, teamwork, independence and real-life skills.

Driving the majority of all this fun filled activity is an IT server room, which, if it was to fail, would cause severe business interruption problems.

Tecserv UK was asked to install a Eurotec FM200 fire suppression system as a replacement for an existing water based system. The water based system only protects by discharging water which can cause damage to equipment.

A FM200 fire suppression system works by discharging a chemical fire suppression agent. These are normally inert gases or Novec 1230 or Halon 1301 which suppresses fire. Once activated, the agent extinguishes the fire by reducing the oxygen level. In order to fully protect your server room, the area must be sealed to hold agent at its design concentration for at least ten minutes to prevent re-ignition.

In approaching this project we carried out a detailed survey of the server room in order to calculate the volume of agent required to suppress a fire and what room sealing works were required for the ten minute hold period. This process also involved the identification of any air gaps such as door seals, roof cavities and gaps around the room where the agent could exit the confines of the server room and weaken the concentration.

Our fire protection approach is robust and was very consultative. It was well received by our client who appreciated the explanation of how the fire alarm system would activate. An FM 200 fire suppression system is controlled by automatic detection.  In this case a high sensitivity smoke detector which continuously samples the air to detect the very first signs of smoke was installed.

These sensors are designed to be extremely sensitive in order to give an early warning of fire so that, wherever possible, intervention occurs before the suppression system is required. When the high sensitivity smoke detector senses smoke, any air cooling or venting systems are shut down so that smoke can rise naturally rather than being pulled away from the standard detection by the ventilation system.

The standard smoke detector is zoned and generally has detectors of different technologies on each zone operating in stages. When a detector control panel is activated giving a first stage alert  (the sounding of an audible alarm as per the fire alarm system), and is then followed by a second detector on a different zone to the first also sensing smoke,  a 2nd stage alarm is activated, differing from the first. At this point a timer is also initiated and after a set period of time the suppression agent is discharged.  Each stage of the alert will be signalled to the fire control panel and trigger the a pre-set emergency response.

This multi co-incidence based detection of fire signals helps to ensure unwanted fire alarms are not triggered and that the suppression agent is usually only discharged when two or more fire signals present themselves.

The outcome is that equipment in the server room is better protected, the risk that a fire in the server room will cause a business interruption event is minimised, and together, these proactive measures will usually viewed positively by insurers and fire risk assessors.