What Is the Most Appropriate Type of Fire Suppression System to Install in a Data Center?


Angela Bailey

What Is the Most Appropriate Type of Fire Suppression System to Install in a Data Center?

When it comes to fire safety in a data center, choosing the most appropriate fire suppression system is of utmost importance. Data centers house critical infrastructure and sensitive information, making them vulnerable to devastating fires. In this article, we will explore different types of fire suppression systems and discuss their suitability for data center environments.

1. Water-Based Fire Suppression Systems

1.1 Sprinkler Systems:

Sprinkler systems are one of the most common types of fire suppression systems used in various settings, including data centers. They consist of a network of pipes with sprinkler heads that activate when heat is detected, releasing water to suppress the fire.

  • Sprinkler systems are effective at quickly controlling and extinguishing fires.
  • They provide coverage over a wide area, ensuring that any fire is promptly addressed.
  • However, water-based systems may not be suitable for all data center environments due to the potential damage they can cause to sensitive equipment and electronics.

1.2 Pre-Action Systems:

Pre-action systems combine elements of sprinkler systems with additional safeguards against accidental discharge. These systems require two triggers before activating: detection of heat or smoke and manual approval from an operator or a fire alarm system.

  • Pre-action systems offer an extra layer of protection by reducing the risk of false activations.
  • Data centers with valuable equipment or irreplaceable assets may benefit from this added level of security.

2. Gas-Based Fire Suppression Systems

2.1 Inert Gas Systems:

Inert gas systems, such as carbon dioxide (CO2) or argon, work by reducing the oxygen concentration in the environment to extinguish the fire. These systems are particularly effective for protecting areas with valuable equipment as they do not cause damage or leave residue behind.

  • Inert gas systems are non-conductive and safe for use in areas with sensitive electronics.
  • However, proper ventilation and monitoring are necessary to prevent oxygen depletion risks to personnel.

2.2 Clean Agent Systems:

Clean agent systems use environmentally friendly gaseous agents, such as FM-200 or Novec 1230, to suppress fires. These agents work by interrupting the chemical reaction of a fire rather than reducing oxygen levels.

  • Clean agent systems are safe for occupied spaces and do not pose health risks.
  • They leave no residue behind, preventing damage to sensitive equipment.

3. Aerosol-Based Fire Suppression Systems

3.1 Condensed Aerosol Systems:

Condensed aerosol systems release a fine solid aerosol into the protected area when activated. This aerosol quickly suppresses the fire by interfering with the combustion process.

  • Condensed aerosol systems have a small footprint and require minimal maintenance.
  • They do not cause harm to people or damage to electronic equipment.


Selecting the right fire suppression system for a data center depends on various factors, including the criticality of equipment, environmental considerations, and budget constraints. Water-based systems like sprinklers and pre-action systems offer effective protection but may pose risks to sensitive electronics.

Gas-based systems like inert gas and clean agent systems are safe for occupied spaces and do not leave residue behind. Aerosol-based systems like condensed aerosol systems are compact and low-maintenance.

Ultimately, a comprehensive fire risk assessment should be conducted in collaboration with fire protection experts to determine the most appropriate fire suppression system for a data center.

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