Fm 200 is an acceptable fire suppressant and fire fighting alternative and I feel it is better than some of the other alternatives that use a modified CO2 solution and very large volumes of gas, the infrastructure ends up costing more when you include the facilities space and building modifications.
Another Gas to consider is FE13 which is cheaper (even though it uses slightly more by volume), It runs at a higher pressure and has the same safety ratings as far as occupied areas etc. It also uses standard cheep CO2 storage bottles and heads etc and uses Nitrogen (inert gas) as the propellant.
While we are on safety – It is commonly considered to be that FM200, Inergen & FE13 are safe to use with people. In my experience from the old Halon days (which was considered more safe than today’s gasses – probably because of less testing) the safe statement are true for a healthy person, but people with lower lung capacities due to illness or other reasons can collapse as the O2 content ratio is slightly reduced. Thus it should always be the policy to have evacuation warnings and have policies to evacuate. I have seen IT techs continue to work in a gas dumped environment and get upset when I throw them out – one even said after he felt dizzy when outside and noted he thought it was safe – He suffered from Asma.
But properly managed these fire suppressant gasses are an excellent way of ensuring business continuity and lowering risk.
The highest risk to computer operations in installing FM200 or any of the others is the installation of the under floor piping if the installers are not sensitive to the computer systems and the cabling.
To over come this ensure every body the contractor uses is responsible, experienced in data centre installations and you as the manager have a very detailed do’s & don’ts site induction and appoint some one who feels they have ownership of the site to CLOSELY oversee the works.
The only other item I would suggest is that do not use a single detector of detection circuit to dump the gas. Eg; use two separate smoke detectors, a separate smoke detector & VESDA or use two separate VESDA system not two circuits in the same VESDA or just different stages in the same VESDA.
And before all the fire companies argue with me in 25+ years of managing over 20 data centres I have had two many false alarms and false dumps. The cost of the second system far out weighs the cost of the false dumps and the inconvenience caused. Better to spend the capital up front.
Just quick note on water systems. The sprinkler systems are not designed to protect the equipment in the data centre they are intended to protect the building from collapse and control the spread of fire to allow the safe evacuation of people and stop the building from collapsing.
But there is always the exception – One water system is being used as a fire extinguisher with in a data room that uses very very high pressure distilled water that atomises the water so that it behaves like a gas, (I do not mean normal misting systems as these are only vertically down and too wet) the system I’m talking about is the Marioff system but it is very very expensive but should be considered. ( I’ll stop talking about this produce and suggest you look at your self as I’m not involved with this organisation and do not want to promote it over the gas systems but it is worth looking at)
FM-200 has been the primary Halon replacement fire suppressant for use in these type of applications for around 13 years now. The market has developed FM-200 into the leader in this area. There are other options available but FM-200 is the predominant choice of most data center professionals.
You may be asking ‘why use a clean agent’ in general. The answer to this includes several different elements. First and foremost, these systems put out fires well before the smoke, fire or ensuing water based system (sprinklers) would cause any damage to the facility. Many times, owners and specifiers are not only looking for reliable fire protection, but also protection to make sure the sprinklers are not discharged unless absolutely necessary. Also, these systems are completely safe for the occupants of the room. In some cases, local authorities or insurance companies will require systems like this to be installed.
Size of the data center can be one of the decision making criteria, but more commonly, the value of the assets to be protected is used. As the size of the facility increases, typically the value of the contents and operations also increases. The need for waterless fire protection, like FM-200, becomes greater. You may conclude from this, that smaller facilities do not require a clean agent.–but not true! Again, it’s the value of the contents, both financially and operationally, that should be considered when determining the appropriate spaces to protect.
When considering the use of FM-200 in the sub-floor vs. the above floor, again, I would consider the value of the contents (operational value will be most prevalent in the underfloor, as loss of cabling can lead to loss of power, leading to significant downtime). Also, you may want to consider the hazard level within these spaces. In some cases, the sub-floor area is not heavily occupied by cabling or other potential combustibles. In such a case, I would not include an extra level of protection for the sub-floor. In other cases, the data center owner my feel the cables and the power/information they bring through the underfloor are by far the most critical hazard in the space, the sub-floor is the only space protected. Most commonly, both subfloor and above floor are protected by FM-200. In this case, the same cylinder (or multiple cylinders manifolded together) can protect both spaces, by engineering the system piping network.