fire safety server rooms
The importance of a server room should never be underestimated. The nature of the equipment itself and the business data processed within these rooms (some of which might be irreplaceable) means they can be one of the most essential areas in an organisation. Even when there’s a good back-up system in place, server room problems can lead to poor system responses, website crashes and business continuity issues. Anything that causes damage in a server room has the potential to become a major problem and one significant potential risk that could cause such damage is fire. A server room is vulnerable to fire for several reasons. Power is continually on which means cooling systems like air conditioning are often needed to stop electronic components overheating. If a cooling system fails, it increases that risk of overheating. Electrical failure can be a cause of fire in itself; overloading or short circuiting of electrical components increases the risk as does malfunctioning wiring in the fabric of the room. Server rooms are also particularly vulnerable to fires that have broken out elsewhere because the number of cables running through walls and ceilings can help fire spread more easily. What steps can you take to manage the risk? The first step is always to carry out a thorough fire risk assessment to identify the risks and hazards. Once you’ve done that, you need to plan what you can do to reduce or remove those risks and these are some of the steps you should consider:
  • Good housekeeping
Keeping your server room clean, clutter-free and well-maintained can help minimise the risk of fire. Unfortunately server rooms can sometimes end up becoming unofficial storage rooms too and the more combustible the materials in there, the higher the chance of a fire igniting and spreading quickly. Put a process in place to make sure server rooms are regularly tidied and cleaned – even a small amount of debris settling on equipment can increase the fire risk.
  • Carry out regular inspections
Schedule periodic inspections, both by employees and third parties, to check that your server room is safe and compliant. Visually check wires and power leads to make sure they aren’t frayed or damaged and get any problems fixed quickly. Get regular tests done on your power supply too.
  • Keep equipment cool
Keeping the server room cool helps to prevent equipment overheating and therefore contributes to lowering the fire risk. Install suitable cooling equipment and, given that it is likely it will be running continually, make sure it is well maintained to avoid it becoming a fire hazard in itself.
  • Install good fire detection and fire fighting equipment
Being able to detect a fire in its very early stages is vital.  There are many systems available designed to cope with the various types and layouts of server rooms and to provide accurate and very early warning of fire. Depending on the suitability of your room, you can also install integrated automatic clean agent (often gas-based) suppression systems that trigger when a fire is detected. You should also ensure you have the necessary portable fire extinguisher provision available too; make sure employees are properly trained on the right extinguishers to use and know how to discharge them safely in the server room environment. If you already have fire detection and protection equipment in place, make sure it’s tested and maintained by a fire protection professional on a regular basis. Protecting your server room from fire not only protects your computer equipment, it helps to safeguard your entire business and the people that work there. If you would like some further guidance about steps you can take to reduce fire risks in your server room please get in touch with us today.