Fire Department - Know How To Fireproof Your Data Center

Written by Elizabeth Millard

Continued from page 1

Halon is an odorless, colorless gas that extinguishes fire by tweakingrepparttar combustion process. It was embraced by places such as data centers, libraries, and art museums because it didn’t leave any residue. But inrepparttar 145630 late 1990s, Halon was found to be environmentally damaging, as well as potentially harmful to anyone doused by it?not a good situation for IT employees who might be inrepparttar 145631 data center when a fire breaks out inrepparttar 145632 building.

Although Halon was banned for new construction, it wasn’t outlawed, and refill tanks are still available forrepparttar 145633 systems that are still in place. That means if a data center manager is looking to colocate, andrepparttar 145634 facility in question was built beforerepparttar 145635 mid-’90s, it’s possible that a Halon system is in place. Besides environmental and health concerns, it’s worth thinking about strippingrepparttar 145636 system or looking for another facility, Sacco notes, because Halon is frequently considered a poor alternative to a water-based system. For Halon to work,repparttar 145637 room has to be airtight becauserepparttar 145638 gas is heavier than air. That means any raised flooring or open vents could renderrepparttar 145639 system less effective.

Data Center Makeovers For companies that aren’t building a new data center but want to spiff up their existing facility, fire protection issues get more complicated. The replacement of one system with another isn’t just a discussion forrepparttar 145640 architect andrepparttar 145641 IT department head; rather,repparttar 145642 local fire authorities also have to be involved. Sometimes a municipality won’t allow a nonsprinkler system to be put in place, no matter how effective it might have proven to be in other facilities.

“Unfortunately, systems have to conform to rules set up byrepparttar 145643 municipality whererepparttar 145644 data center is located,” says Sacco. “The fire inspector could approve a chemical-based system in new construction but not approverepparttar 145645 capping of a wet sprinkler system in a remodel. That’s pretty common.”

In that case Sacco notes that data center managers should work withrepparttar 145646 architects to develop a preaction system, which holds water in check until it’s absolutely necessary. Such a system will fillrepparttar 145647 pipes with water but won’t release it until there’s a significant amount of heat inrepparttar 145648 room.

In general Sacco recommends that every data center, whether new or old, should have a multilayered system in place for fire protection. That includes havingrepparttar 145649 latest fire suppression system but also doing periodic testing, assigning responsibility for system upkeep, and integratingrepparttar 145650 fire protection with other temperature controls.


Consider An Emergency Generator

Written by by Steven S. Ross

Continued from page 1

Makers of fuel cells, which would replace generators, are just beginning to testrepparttar marketplace, as well. Fuel cell installations promise to be simpler, as there are no noise or pollution issues and units are fairly compact. But costs are unclear.

Data center personnel also worry about maintaining and testing. “Very few companies want to schedule a test once a month or once a week. I don’t think they exist. I never heard of one,” says McHugh. Forrepparttar 145629 average small to medium-sized enterprise, weekly tests are probably unnecessary. However, larger companies may need to test more often.

“In a hospital or nursing home,repparttar 145630 JCHA [Joint Commission on Hospital Accreditation] recommends testing emergency generators once a week. They have to test under load and keep maintenance logs. How important is your data?” says Dauffenbach.

The best test is to use “building mode.” You simply simulate a power outage by cutting off power from outside. “Data centers don’t like to do that,” says Dauffenbach.

A compromise: Use a transition transfer switch. To test, or if you think an outage is coming, turnrepparttar 145631 generator on first, synchronizerepparttar 145632 generator’s output withrepparttar 145633 utility’s power, and then openrepparttar 145634 switch to cut offrepparttar 145635 utility supply.

A more common approach is simply to turn onrepparttar 145636 generator once a week or once a month, whilerepparttar 145637 utility continues to provide power torepparttar 145638 data center. Testingrepparttar 145639 generator that way, without connecting to an external load (the equipment inrepparttar 145640 data center itself), puts extra strain on it. Generator vendors recommend simulatingrepparttar 145641 load by installing a “dummy” load bank. The power can be dissipated with resistive wire (“Think of it as a giant toaster,” says Dauffenbach) or with inductive or capacitative loads. A 10KW load bank can cost $4,000 or more, depending on its type and its adjustability.

APC offers an annual service itself or through business partners worldwide. Underrepparttar 145642 service plan, you can contract to have a test under load done periodically. The APC technicians arrive with their own load bank. “We also recommend testing under real load. Maybe quarterly, on a Sunday, shut down all noncritical processing tasks, checkrepparttar 145643 UPS batteries, and pullrepparttar 145644 plug,” says Hunt.

The emergency generator business is dominated by local firms, working with local design consultants and electrical contractors. Among those suppliers who distribute nationally in addition to APC are Detroit Diesel, John Deere, and Caterpiller. You’ll be referred to a dealer-distributor such as Bowers Power, Covington Detroit Diesel-Allison, and

Figuring The Size

Estimatingrepparttar 145645 generator size you might need involves more than adding uprepparttar 145646 data center’s computer demand. Should you include power for air conditioning? “If you plan being onrepparttar 145647 generator for no more than 20 or 30 minutes, you may not need air conditioning,” says McHugh. “But after 30 minutes, our preference is that at least a portion is put ontorepparttar 145648 generator. A handful of lights is enough.”

If you include air conditioning, you will have to add extra generating capacity to allow for transient loads. Air conditioners, fans, and similar equipment start under load and draw far more than their rated power needs for a few seconds.

How to sell it torepparttar 145649 boss? “It comes down to dollars for everybody,” says McHugh. “What does this cost your company if you have a two-hour outage and you have a half-hour battery? Is this cost inrepparttar 145650 hundreds of thousands? Millions?”


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