Clean agent fire suppression gas is frequently used inside data centers. These gases may include Inergen, FM-200, ECARO FE-25, Novec 1230¹ and others. The gases provide fire protection without the use of water. This can be great option that cuts the damage and repair costs compared to water sprinkler. However compared to traditional sprinkler systems, the accidental discharge of the clean agent gas is far more likely and also very expensive. These systems can be triggered to release the gas and alarm the building by just lighting a flame, a release of refrigerant, or miscellaneous dust creation among many others .
- Prepare your change control procedure document and route/approve accordingly.
- Contact your building monitoring company (if one exists) and place the building in test. This will prevent the deployment of the fire company to your site if an alarm is triggered. A time deadline will have to be given to the building monitoring company to automatically place the building off test and back on line. So, obviously you’re work tasks to be performed are to be fully completed prior to the deadline.
- Utilize clean agent bypass switch to isolate the clean agent discharge assembly. You should also know that the clean agent bypass switch does not disable the smoke detectors. The possibility of a smoke sensor alarming may occur. All precautions should be made to minimize this possibility such as when copper brazing or refrigerant retrieval or leak is occurring. Refrigerant will set off the smoke sensors. If excessive smoke is generated within the area of a detector, the detector may have to be covered and a temporary smoke fan removal system installed. Also know that rooms with a raised floor, there may be an additional underfloor detector directly under the ceiling located detector. So pull up the floor tiles, locate detector and cover as needed. Any hot work should always be accompanied with a hand held clean agent extinguisher. Never use a powder type extinguisher.
- When the clean agent bypass switch is used, the indicator light will energize and the clean agent panel will locally initiate an audible trouble alarm. This audible trouble alarm is to be silenced in the clean agent panel. At the same time, your main building Fire Alarm Control Panel (FACP) will receive a trouble signal. Check with your building manager on any required silencing. Your building manager should also receive your “Change Control” so prior knowledge of work task is known.
- At this point, any required safety procedures are discussed and work can proceed.
- When the work is completed prior to the building test deadline, the system can be placed back on line. The bypass switch indicator light will de-energize and the local and FACP trouble alarm will return to normal. Contact the building monitoring company to remove building from test.The aferementioned are procedural examples that require a formal review and documentation on how they apply and execution in your specific data center. Mitigating the risk is a prime reason for implementing these suggested procedures. The cost to recharge the clean agent cylinders is expensive and to consider the cooling shuts off on gas discharge tends to make this event not only expensive but extremely stressful. It’s also another way to determine if your contractors are data center experienced is if they ask you prior to commencing work if the clean agent is in bypass. Here’s a good rule of thumb, if a contractor is working in the protected space, the clean agent system is in bypass all the time and every time.