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Fire Protection Tips for Data Centers in Houston, TX

Data centers – once known as computer rooms or electronic data processing centers – are the hub of your business. Did you know that without appropriate fire mitigation techniques and proper protection equipment in place, your data could be at risk? Put your mind at ease and reduce business downtime in case a blaze breaks out with these fire protection tips for Houston area data centers.

Fire Risks in Houston Data Centers

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimates that business owners spend $149 billion per year protecting their data centers and the critical information they hold. In recent years, equipment in data centers has changed and grown dramatically, which has increased demand on air conditioners. In an effort to increase energy efficiency, airflow containment systems are often used.

However, the resulting high airflow environment dilutes smoke, making fire detection difficult, and affects the way fire suppression agents are dispersed. Combined with equipment that increases the risk of fire – including power generators, uninterruptible power supply (UPS) battery backup units and high-voltage transformers – airflow containment can be very dangerous. This calls for help from a knowledgeable fire protection company to correctly install your fire protection devices.

How to Mitigate Fire Risk in Houston Data Centers

As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to secure your assets and protect them from fire, including digital assets stored on computers. Follow these tips to mitigate your fire risk and help ensure that if a fire breaks out, your business is back up and running in just a few hours.

Install the Right Fire Protection Equipment

The components of a data center-friendly fire suppression system include:

  • An accurate fire detection system not prone to false alarms.
  • A fire alarm system complete with smoke detectors, pull stations, strobe lights, sirens and other elements to alert occupants of danger so they can evacuate.
  • Portable fire extinguishers in strategic locations installed according to Houston fire codes.
  • Emergency suppression system delay or cancel in case of false alarms.
  • An emergency power-off (EPO) switch to turn off equipment in an urgent situation.
  • A fire suppression system designed to put out fires in rooms with sensitive electronics, such as the FM-200 fire suppression system. (Water is not an ideal fire extinguishing agent in data centers because this simply trades fire damage for water damage.)

Maintain Fire Protection Equipment

Proper equipment selection and installation is vitally important, as is maintenance of this equipment in the coming years. Without inspections and testing from a qualified company, you could be left without a functioning system when you need it most. Make fire suppression system maintenance a yearly priority, or as required for different types of equipment according to Houston fire codes.

Follow Other Important Fire Safety Tips

Fire protection equipment is your failsafe if a fire starts, but it’s best to prevent a blaze in the first place. For this reason, one of the most important things you can do is keep all flammable materials out of the data center.

Largely, this means unpacking all new equipment in a separate room so cardboard boxes, plastic, Styrofoam and other packaging materials never enter the data center. Any flammable materials required in the data center should be kept in fire-retardant boxes or cabinets. Establish policies regarding these rules and strictly enforce them to mitigate fire risk in your data center.

For all your Houston data center fire protection needs, please contact Kauffman Co. online or call us at (713) 893-1090. We offer everything you need to safeguard the information in your data center, from fire protection equipment installation and inspections to fire extinguisher training.

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