Expert advice on remodeling mission critical spaces
Change is inevitable. In our post-pandemic world, we see a ripple effect of changes in the workforce, changes in technology and sometimes even changes in opinion driving companies to remodel their facilities. At the start of a construction project, it's easy to focus attention on the benefits of the change and the practical realities of construction. But when present, fire protection and suppression systems should also get our attention when planning for building improvements. Ignoring these systems can sometimes have unintended consequences – negatively impacting both performance and safety.
Recently our team examined an inert gas fire suppression system for a data center space that was getting smaller. The needs of this business had changed and due to changes in technology suddenly they found themselves with a much more efficient data center space. However, don’t assume that “more agent is better” when it comes to protecting a now-smaller room with an existing clean agent fire suppression system.
In this case, reducing the room size without adjusting the quantity of inert gas would result in an agent concentration three times higher than the upper limit permitted by the applicable NFPA standard. In the event of a discharge, the room oxygen content would have been too low for human respiration and could cause serious injury or death. The good news is the owner of the data center recognized the potential problem and approached us to recalculate the agent concentrations, piping and nozzles. Ultimately this led us to remove some of the inert gas cylinders and to revise the distribution nozzles. The resultant change allowed the space to remain safe for human occupancy in the event of a clean agent discharge.
Is your building changing? Don’t forget to consider how these changes might impact any of your fire protection systems! Always involve your fire protection partner in the planning process. We are here to help.