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Managing Fire Sprinkler System Risk in a Mission Critical Data Center Setting

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Managing Fire Sprinkler System Risk in a Mission Critical Data Center Setting White Paper (195 kb)

Proper management in the mission-critical data center space revolves around the incorporation and integration of systems and designs that optimize uptime and minimize risk. There is, however, a commonly unidentified risk within the data center environment associated with fire sprinkler system management. To address the risk of accidental water discharge most data centers utilize double interlock pre-action fire sprinkler systems that employ galvanized steel piping to provide an additional layer of protection to prevent corrosion-related leaks. Recent research has suggested that galvanized steel piping may, in fact, be more vulnerable to corrosive degradation than was previously believed.
The problem with the fire sprinkler industry relative to mission-critical data center installations is that there are currently no standards for fire sprinkler design and installation that take into effect the elevated risks associated with corrosion. Data centers carry a very disproportionate risk in two key areas: hardware risk and business continuity risk. Even a small leak in the fire sprinkler piping above a data hall can easily damage the water sensitive hardware stored and operating in the data hall.

The source of the risks that are created within fire sprinkler systems in the data center setting come from a variety of areas within the chain of involved parties. A list of the risk elements that contribute to corrosion risk is as follows:

  • Design practices
  • Construction materials
  • Installation practices

It is highly recommended that all data centers evaluate their current sprinkler system failure risks and practices before employing a comprehensive corrosion management strategy.