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Telecommunications


ABOUT

The mission of a telecommunications company - whether it is a traditional regional operating company, a long-distance provider, a wireless service, or a broadband company offering bundled TV, internet and phone—is to provide customers with round-the-clock, uninterrupted service.  A fire in any critical telecom facility—whether a central office, a satellite transmission station, or a cable head-end—can knock out vital communication links for thousands of customers at once.


CONSIDERATIONS

Like data centers, telco facilities rely on sensitive computing equipment, they are often tightly packed, cooling is a concern,  cables and network equipment are always live with electricity, and a fire would be catastrophic.  Risk is accentuated when buildings are unmanned .  Many are located in remote areas.  In some cases, the building’s sole purpose is to house telco network equipment and fire suppression equipment is not required by the AHJ.


PROTECTION

Smoke Detection

  • Spot detectors – Passive detection that activates when the smoke reaches the detector.
  • Air Sampling Smoke Detection – Active detection that continuously draws air from the room to a high sensitivity detector.  Provides very early warning that a fire is starting.  Can be used  to monitor return air grilles where room air flow is high.
  • Both types can be employed at ceiling level or under raised floor.

Heat Detection

  • Spot detectors – Passive detection that activates if heat in the area around the detector exceeds a predefined threshold.

Suppression – Clean Agent

  • A control panel releases clean agent into the room and/or under floor when a designated number of detectors activate.  Widely used in data centers.
  • Clean agent is waterless and does no harm to electronic components.  Data center can remain operational during a discharge.

Suppression - Sprinkler

  • May be a wet system (pipes always full of water) or a pre-action system (pipes remain dry until detection of a fire causes an action that fills them with water).
  • Often times a requirement of the local AHJ even though water suppression would cause considerable damage to computing equipment.

Suppression – Water Mist

  • New  technology that atomizes water droplets  into a non-conductive fog that suppresses fire without water damage.  Presently used in data centers in the United States and Europe.
  • AHJs have begun accepting water mist as an alternative to traditional sprinkler systems.

FIRE CODES & STANDARDS

  • NFPA 76:  Standard for the Fire Protection of Telecommunications Facilities
  • NFPA 2001:  Clean Agent Fire Extinguishing Systems
  • NFPA 12a:  Standard on Halon 1301 Fire Extinguishing Systems
  • NFPA 72:  National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code
  • NFPA 25:  Inspection, Testing and Maintenance of Water Based Fire Protection Systems
  • NFPA 10:  Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers
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