Fire Protection Research Foundation announces new report on data center smoke detection

Report provides analysis of smoke detection and guidance to technical committees

September 10, 2014 – To address critical gaps in knowledge about data center fire prevention, the Fire Protection Research Foundation (Foundation), an affiliate of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), today announced the release of a new report, “Validation of Modeling Tools for Detection Design in High Air Flow Environments,” as the result of a project in partnership with Hughes Associates and FM Global. The report validates a model that provides reliable analysis of smoke detection in data centers and guidance to the technical committees for NFPA 75, Fire Protection of Informational Technology Equipment, and NFPA 76, Fire Protection of Telecommunications Facilities.

Fire prevention and detection is critical to safeguarding data centers which hold critical business and organizational information around the world. Globally, spending on these facilities will be an estimated 149 billion dollars this year, according to Gartner Group.

In the past few years, the equipment in data centers has changed significantly, which has placed increased demands on HVAC systems. As a result, airflow containment solutions are being introduced to increase energy efficiency. From a fire safety design perspective, the use of airflow containment creates a high airflow environment that dilutes smoke, which poses challenges for adequate smoke detection, and affects the dispersion of fire suppression agents.

“While data centers have become increasingly important in housing digital information, sufficient smoke detection is a challenge with data center cooling systems,” says Amanda Kimball, a research project manager for the Foundation. “This research included a series of simulations with various smoke detector spacing, types of fires, and air flows which gave us important guidance on smoke detection placement and installation.”

About the Fire Protection Research Foundation
The Fire Protection Research Foundation plans, manages, and communicates research on a broad range of fire safety issues in support of the NFPA mission. The Foundation is an affiliate of NFPA.

About the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
NFPA is a worldwide leader in fire, electrical, building, and life safety. The mission of the international nonprofit organization founded in 1896 is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education. NFPA develops more than 300 codes and standards to minimize the possibility and effects of fire and other hazards. All NFPA codes and standards can be viewed at no cost at www.nfpa.org/freeaccess.

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Contact: Lorraine Carli, Public Affairs Office: +1 617 984-7275