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General Chat Thread, Sprinkler system in server room in General; I have seen some reports of sprinklers being used in server rooms, but to make it work properly they were ...
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    I have seen some reports of sprinklers being used in server rooms, but to make it work properly they were linked to the power system. So when the sprinkler goes off so does the power. The argument being that if you clean and dry the hardware then it is likely to work (at least sufficiently to recover the data). However I can imagine most schools would have the UPS in the same rack as the server making it hard to keep it dry in the unlikely event they actually linked the power & sprinklers. I would also worry about accidental triggering.

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    ozydave's Avatar
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    Thanks for the comments.
    If they force it my risk assessment will be that I will not hot swapping anything. The power to server room including UPS will be shut off first

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    As has been mentioned we do have sprinklers in our server room. Unfortunately we ran out of money to put anything else in (the dfe refused to change the build spec!) and the insurers insist that if it's present the system has to be connected.

    What has been done is the sprinkler system is a dry pipe system, so no water is in the server room. The sprinklers aren't triggered by the fire alarm, but are triggered by heat causing the sprinkler heads to release. The power and UPS system (all rack PDUs are powered by a centralised 30kva UPS system with bypass) are connected to the sprinklers (via water sensors in the pipe work) and the fire alarm system. When the sprinklers or fire alarm system are triggered the ups goes into bypass. When water is detected the batteries in the UPS are isolated and power is killed to the room. The ups system is also in an IP65 rated case to protect the batteries from the sprinklers!

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    Jamo's Avatar
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    We have water sprinklers in ours. We pointed it out when we first got into the new building. They informed us that the sprinklers are mechanical, ie they have a glass bead in them which has to melt to actually set them off. In other words if the sprinklers start, there is already no server room left!

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    nephilim's Avatar
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    In my last place I asked for the sprinkler system to be removed from the server room and be replaced with a Halon or Argon suppression system, only took a fire for them to do it after the servers fried from the water.

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    SYNACK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamo View Post
    We have water sprinklers in ours. We pointed it out when we first got into the new building. They informed us that the sprinklers are mechanical, ie they have a glass bead in them which has to melt to actually set them off. In other words if the sprinklers start, there is already no server room left!
    Yea I think the pressure wave from one blowing will set off more, the balls are also held in place by gravity and water pressure, sudden drops may cause leaks.

  7. #22

    Geoff's Avatar
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    If you freon gas cylinder fails in your air conditioning unit then the back pressure will set off the sprinklers. There is nothing else in typical server room that would cause enough of a pressure increase to set off sprinkers accidently. Outside influces such as earth tremors need to be considered though too. Plus my favourite, human error.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jamo View Post
    We have water sprinklers in ours. We pointed it out when we first got into the new building. They informed us that the sprinklers are mechanical, ie they have a glass bead in them which has to melt to actually set them off. In other words if the sprinklers start, there is already no server room left!
    The purpose of a CO2 fire suppresion system is to stop the fire before your servers are destroyed. If they only fitted a fire suppression system with an aim to save the building, rather than the contents then it's not fit for purpose from your point of view surely?
    Last edited by Geoff; 2nd February 2013 at 02:09 PM.

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    We have water in our server room. I queried it when the school was being built but was told it was needed to meet building regulations. There's 4x sprinkler heads (I can see, anyway) in the roof. I can only hope it's "dry" pipes (no water in the pipe until heat is detected) rather than "wet" (water in pipe 24/7, if you knock the bulb with a ladder, etc, get a bucket). Ideally we would have had a gas system but you need an external release and as our server room is on a main corridor it would be flipped quite regularly.

    I also understand it it works on heat rather than smoke, and not on alarm, so if a student knocks a call point the sprinklers won't trigger. You'd have to physically go into the server room and hold something warm up to the senser.

    I don't know what it would class as "warm" say...if the power failed, then the servers came back on and the air con didn't...then it would get fairly warm in there...warm enough to trigger the sprinklers? I don't know. I don't want to know.

    We have fairly comprehensive disaster recovery procedures but nothing could prepare us for the potential complete and utter destruction of all systems that reside in the room (which is just about all of them).

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    Quote Originally Posted by tb2571989 View Post
    I don't know what it would class as "warm" say...if the power failed, then the servers came back on and the air con didn't...then it would get fairly warm in there...warm enough to trigger the sprinklers? I don't know. I don't want to know.
    What temperature the sprinkler activates at depends on the model of the head. It could be as low as 135 degrees F (57.2 C) or higher than 200 degrees F (93.3 C). The most common activation temperature is 155 degrees F (68.3 C). At the last school I worked at, they had a "wet" pipe system in the server room with a head almost directly over the rack. It would have been too costly to switch to a gas-based fire suppression system so we instead switched the head out to a "concealed" one where there is only a small cover plate exposed below the ceiling tiles (the head pops down if temperatures start to approach its activation temperature). This eliminated the risk of someone/something accidentally hitting the head and setting it off.

  10. #25
    ozydave's Avatar
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    Look like they have got there way and installing the water system. They say its for building regs. Building reg state fire suppression system. So as always it's down to cost over personal health and safety.
    The local authority health and safety adviser drafted an email back to my query and said "As discussed, a wet sprinkler system should not be used in areas where there are electrical installations."
    Strange then that the local authority are the ones for the final sign off of the building.
    They said the sprinklers will set off 30 degrees above ambient temp.
    Another point - the new server room is on first floor directly over the heat bay of DT/resistant materials, the fumes of which are vented passed the server room wall.
    My dolly has well an truly gone out the pram

    I will try to insist that should they go off that the power including the UPS is shut off. There must be a system to do this

    Does anyone have a health and safety risk assessment for entering a server room with sprinklers

    Thanks for the replies by the way

  11. #26

    Geoff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ozydave View Post
    Does anyone have a health and safety risk assessment for entering a server room with sprinklers
    The Fire risk assessment that they did that led them to the conclusion they needed a sprinkler system should of covered this. Ask for a copy.

    If they are citing building regs it's basically because the building is too close to another building. This basically requires the building has a fire suppression system fitted.

    For basic health & safety I'd check with your Union. But I'd suggest you'd be within your rights to refuse to work in the room. Also they have to test the pressure of the sprinker system weekly to stay in compliance. This is the perfect time to screw things up. So I'd suggest you shut down the at risk electrical equipment during these times. Liaise with your site team on this to make sure you do this at a suitable time of week/day. However you will be at a bit of an impass if your union decides you can't work in the room due to H&S concerns.
    Last edited by Geoff; 7th February 2013 at 11:58 PM.



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