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Fire detection and suppression systems for data centres


The sheer amount of electrically charged equipment within a data centre environment can make the facility a hotbed for fire.  Elements such as electrical cabinets and server rooms together with substantial electrical wiring, power cables and a high level of energy consumed to power facilities, makes fire detection and suppression systems a critical consideration.

A fire within a data centre can also have dire consequences for businesses, given the facility hosts highly sensitive information that is essential to their customer’s operation and a fire disruption or false alarm can be extremely costly. In the US, a 2019 Statista survey found 25 per cent of responders lost between 301,000 and 400,000 U.S. dollars per hour of server downtime as a result of fire. False alarms were found to be just as costly, with some suppression solutions requiring extensive clean-up which resulted in additional extended downtime.

When a fire breaks out sometimes the solution can be just as damaging as the fire itself. Traditional fire suppression systems such as sprinklers and chemical agents can destroy assets, as they generate more heat by using more energy, and can have a remarkable impact on the environment. Systems requiring excessive smoke to detect fires subsequently lose further assets. In many cases, data centres require multiple fire detection and suppression systems to mitigate risks.  

A NSW data centre recently appointed Wormald to draw on its extensive experience in delivering industry appropriate fire suppression solutions, to design and install a bespoke fire detection and suppression solution, tailored to the specific requirements of the facility and in line with the Building Code of Australia.

Wormald combined the VESDA early warning smoke detection system with a Victaulic Vortex hybrid fire extinguishing system.  The VESDA system provides an early fire detection warning using innovative technology that continually draws air into a network of pipes via a high efficiency aspirator. As air passes through a dual stage filter, dust and dirt is first removed from the sample before it enters a calibrated detection chamber where it is exposed to a laser light source. When smoke is present within the air sample, light is scattered within the detection chamber and is instantly identified by a highly sensitive receiver. VESDA detectors then communicate the danger to a fire alarm control panel, a fire software management system or a building management system via relays or a High-Level Interface.

The VESDA smoke detection and early warning is enhanced by a pre-action sprinkler system to minimise any likelihood of water being unnecessarily discharged onto sensitive electronic equipment and data racks. The Victaulic Vortex hybrid system absorbs heat and reduces oxygen to extinguish the fire through tiny water droplets that are discharged from a single emitter. This approach simultaneously protects valuable equipment while also ensuring minimal water use.

As a leading fire protection specialist in Australia, Wormald has extensive experience finding fire solutions for complex facilities for a range of different industries.  For more information on Wormald’s commitment to sustainable fire suppression systems call 133 166.