High Volume Low Speed (HVLS) fans are a great addition to any large facility or warehouse. They are an energy efficient supplement to expensive HVAC systems, moving large amounts of air helping employees stay comfortable and productive. As a growing number of facilities are now incorporating these fans, fire protection engineers are concerned about their effect on sprinkler system operation. Many experts fear these fans will delay sprinkler operation, possibly overwhelm the sprinkler system, and cause a larger fire than necessary. New research has focused on addressing those concerns.
For more than 20 years, cross-zone detection has been a best practice for the design of fire suppression systems. Cross-zone detection is all about verified detection or the requirement for two detectors in alarm before activating the release sequence. Detectors which rely on smoke to alarm can be more sensitive to ambient factors such as dirt and dust which cause false alarms. Because of this, cross-zone release has been the industry standard when smoke detectors are involved in the automatic actuation of fire suppression systems such as Pre-Action Sprinkler or Clean Agent. However, many fire suppression system owners don’t understand the various installation and programming options available to them.
It is common knowledge that lead-acid batteries, when they are charging, release hydrogen gas that can potentially result in an explosion. In 2001, a hydrogen gas explosion occurred in a California data center in the UPS room where batteries were charging. Fortunately no one was harmed; however, the Data Center did sustain significant damage including the collapse of several walls and ceilings. The explosion also resulted in a large hole in the roof of the building.
We frequently are asked to respond to questions about fire protection of mission critical facilities. From time-to-time we get a really great question and share our answer on this blog to benefit anyone else who may have a similar question.
“I am continuously looking for ways to reduce the cost of maintaining the systems in our buildings. What is one significant way I can lower the cost of the periodic Inspection, Testing and Maintenance program for my fire protection systems?”
In today’s business climate, Facility Managers are under constant pressure to reduce maintenance costs while at the same time improving the quality of service. While it may seem almost impossible to accomplish both of these objectives at the same time, it can be done. Using a Fire Protection Service Provider who offers online reporting of all your inspection reports can save you a tremendous amount of administration time while at the same time improve the quality of the inspection reports you receive.
Some service providers simply provide online inspection reports which are simply a scanned copy of a handwritten report and this really offers no improvement in quality. However, an effective online reporting system allows you to download high quality digital inspection documents. Additionally, these online reporting systems will allow the user to run analysis reports and will offer the ability to maintain a detailed inventory of every facility, every fire system and every system device. All reports can be easily accessed through a secured, password protected website. Managers, depending upon their level of responsibility, will have access to a single facility, multiple sites or all locations nationwide.
If you do not have access to online reporting, then you may want to ask your current fire protection service provider the following questions:
Do you offer an online reporting system for inspection reports and other documents?
If so, is there an additional charge for this service?
Is your online reporting platform your own proprietary system? If not, is there anything that could potentially affect my access to critical facility data?
What data will your online reporting system provide me?
Is there any software I’ll be required to install or maintain?
Are there any license or support fees I will incur?
At ORR Protection Systems, online reporting is just the way we do business and there is no extra charge for this service. If you would like to learn more about ORR’s online reporting capabilities, check out the NetSITE and NetREPORT sections of our website.
Last week I presented an Educational Session at the National Facilities Management and Technology conference in Baltimore, MD. Facilities Managers have the challenging responsibility of maintaining so many different building systems, including the fire systems that are so important to life safety and protection of the business operation. I shared with these Facility Managers 5 things they DO want to do and 5 things they DON’T want to do as they manage the Inspection, Testing and Maintenance of the Fire Protection Systems in their buildings. Click here to download a copy of the slides that accompanied my presentation.
Maintaining reliability throughout the entire life cycle of a fire alarm system involves three distinct and equally important tasks which must be performed on a periodic basis: (1.) visual inspections, (2.) functional testing and (3.) maintenance activities. Many overlook the need to visually inspect the fire system and concentrate only on the functional testing of the components. However, each of these tasks are necessary and contribute to the assurance of a fire system that is ready to perform in the case of a fire.
When a building has a fire, its occupants rely upon the fire protection systems to perform successfully. However, all too often building owners are faced with the consequences of a fire system that has failed. What causes these failures? And what can be done to avoid another failure in the future? Having a suitable program of inspection, testing and maintenance (ITM) is one of the more important steps to be taken to assure the success of the fire protection system. The truth is, when an appropriate level of inspection, testing and maintenance is taking place, this activity will directly contribute to the high level of reliability expected of a fire protection system. But how does one determine just what is the “appropriate” level?
Advances in computing technology, worldwide growth in data consumption, and the need for more efficient cooling of IT equipment is driving data centers to change rapidly. A significant part of these changes include the use of Hot Aisle or Cold Aisle (HACA) containment systems. The partitions that form these containment systems are affecting fire protection systems in these spaces. In the first part of this series of blog posts, I introduced how HACA systems are changing fire protection approaches in data centers. In this second part I will continue the discussion of how HACA systems are specifically challenging both fire detection and fire suppression systems in the Data Center.