Form meets function in mission critical data center

To protect this data center's electrical equipment from smoke and fire hazards, the Building Team specified aspirating smoke detectors to provide early warning detection.

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November 17, 2013 |
Intelligent FAAST aspirating smoke detectors easily integrate with leading fire

For one of the world’s most innovative data ecosystem providers, ensuring data security and continuity for more than 500 large corporate and government customers is central. Its strategy must protect data, deliver constant system uptime and access for existing customers, and also instill confidence in potential customers.

For its fire systems, the data center provider has been working with Murphy Electric, a full-service Las Vegas electrical contractor and specialty fire alarm company, to provide fire protection for a 275,000 sq. ft. colocation server farm. 

The server farm’s electrical equipment creates a high heat-density environment, increasing the potential for smoke and fire. Cooling systems, such as CRAC units and above ceiling and below floor plenums, create a high-airflow environment that can disperse smoke and complicate detection. Therefore, the facility requires early warning of smoke to immediately address potential system issues.

To overcome these challenges, Murphy Electric and its customer included aspirating smoke detection to provide Early Warning Detection. Aspirating smoke detection uses a pipe network with sampling points to actively draw air into a high-sensitivity smoke sensing chamber, which can overcome smoke dispersion effects of high air flows. Pipe networks can also be run below the floor and above the ceiling to protect untraditional spaces, as well as to hide the pipe network from view for aesthetic reasons.  

“Aspirating smoke detection is not a new concept for this customer,” says Tim Northington, Murphy Electric Project Manager, “But the competitive detector they have been using requires a separate high level interface (HLI) to talk to the Fike fire system we’re using, which is cumbersome and costly to design, program, and maintain.” 

Murphy Electric suggested using the new Fike FAAST Fire Alarm Aspiration Sensing Technology® (manufactured by System Sensor). The device integrates directly with the Fike fire alarm panels with no extra hardware or software. “The integration and simplicity of a single Fike platform convinced this customer to change from the previous device to FAAST. And the cost benefit in terms of installation and programming are evident with the intelligent FAAST device,” says Northington. 

In all, the facility requires 130 FAAST detectors with about 30 devices connected to each panel. Of the five alert levels available with FAAST, this system uses Action, Fire1, and Fire2. The FAAST device also includes 10 pre-Alert particulate levels – all of which enable facility personnel to take proactive action when even small amounts of smoke are detected. Plus, FAAST’s simple LED alert tree and its airflow pendulum provide easy-to-read visuals.

Another benefit of FAAST was its design. “150-200 people a day tour this facility,” explains Northington. “This customer takes the aesthetics of their facilities to a whole new level.” For the server farm, the sleek, black FAAST device fit right in. 

Overall, the form, function, and integration of Fike’s Intelligent FAAST system greatly simplified all aspects of the project. “It’s easy to use, easy to understand, and easy to explain to the end-user,” concludes Northington. “With intelligent FAAST, we were able to fulfill our vision for this facility.”

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