Protecting Data-Processing Facilities

Prior to the implementation of the Montreal Protocol, Halon was the fire-suppression system of choice for computer and data-processing facilities throughout the United States.


Prior to the implementation of the Montreal Protocol, Halon was the fire-suppression system of choice for computer and data-processing facilities throughout the United States. With the cessation of Halon production, computer and data-processing facilities are now being protected by a variety of fire-extinguishing systems, including the available Halon alternative agents, and preaction sprinkler systems.

The Halon alternative agents are typically used in total-flooding applications, either total flooding of the computer room, underfloor spaces or equipment spaces or a combination of the above. These gaseous agents include halocarbon products and inert gas mixtures. The total-flooding agents, like the Halon systems they are replacing, are discharged into the protected space upon activation of fire-detection systems.

Preaction automatic fire-sprinkler systems are also being used for the protection of computer and data-processing facilities. Preaction sprinkler systems incorporate a preaction valve assembly that holds water back from the sprinkler system piping in the protected space until a detection system senses a fire condition and initiates the opening of the preaction valve. Water can flow into the system piping, but only discharges after the sprinkler head actuates due to the presence of heat at the individual sprinkler. Additional protection from inadvertent water damage can be provided with a double-interlocked preaction system, which holds water back from the piping until air pressure in the piping is relieved by the actuation of a sprinkler head.

In many computer applications, preaction systems can allow for power to be immediately disconnected from the computer equipment prior to filling the piping with water and discharging water into the room through actuated sprinklers. This power disconnect recognizes the fact that live computer equipment is more susceptible to water damage than equipment that is powered down prior to getting wet.

Whatever the extinguishing medium, computer and data-processing facilities can now also take advantage of new fire-detection technologies, which provide for earlier warning of equipment malfunction and incipient fire conditions.

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