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Information Technology rooms

Discussion in 'Commercial Fire Codes' started by linnrg, Apr 8, 2020.

  1. linnrg

    linnrg Sawhorse

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    When a FM200 system is installed are jurisdictions allowing the removal of the existing NFPA 13 system?

    Under NFPA 13 are IT rooms considered "electrical rooms"? Electrical rooms has the exceptions to sprinklers if 4 items are met.

    NFPA 13 handbook mentions that keeping the water system there provides a more "durable" fire protection because the FM 200 is a one shot then no more?

    Any comments?
     
  2. cda

    cda Sawhorse

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    When a FM200 system is installed are jurisdictions allowing the removal of the existing NFPA 13 system?


    Depends, I prefer keep the sprinklers.

    Now with that said sometimes you have to define a IT room.

    One computer does not make it an IT room.

    Plus, they have to convince me the world would end or Disneyland would shut down if the computers got wet.

    Plus, if there is a fire, in my op, the room is going to be shut down anyway.

    Plus, they can do pre action sprinkler




    Under NFPA 13 are IT rooms considered "electrical rooms"? Electrical rooms has the exceptions to sprinklers if 4 items are met.

    NOOOOOOO




    NFPA 13 handbook mentions that keeping the water system there provides a more "durable" fire protection because the FM 200 is a one shot then no more?


    YESSSSS

    Any comments?

    When allowed to be removed and clean agent only we and I thing code required a two hour rated room

    I need to look at the good book
     
  3. cda

    cda Sawhorse

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    2015 ifc


    903.2 Where Required

    Approved automatic sprinkler systems in new buildings and structures shall be provided in the locations described in Sections 903.2.1 through 903.2.12.

    Exception: Spaces or areas in telecommunications buildings used exclusively for telecommunications equipment, associated electrical power distribution equipment, batteries and standby engines, provided those spaces or areas are equipped throughout with an automatic smoke detection system in accordance with Section 907.2 and are separated from the remainder of the building by not less than 1-hour fire barriers constructed in accordance with Section 707 of the International Building Code or not less than 2-hour horizontal assemblies constructed in accordance with Section 711 of the International Building Code, or both.


    We do two hours,,, I will have to figure where that comes from
     
  4. Insurance Engineer

    Insurance Engineer Registered User

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    IF they only have a clean agent system you have to ask several more questions and look very closely, where the gas can escape.

    1. Did they test the room enclosure for tightness if so when and did it pass?
    2. The smaller the room the tougher it is to pass ie small hole gas escapes fire not controlled.
    3. How tight is the room pay close attention to floor and ceiling penetrations. If they have a suspension ceiling look above for holes same for the raised floor, look below the floor.
    4. Do they have a policy for when wires are pulled or any work to check the areas to make sure they were checked and filled. Is the inspection the responsibility of the contractor or in-house staff? Do they specifically say how they should be filled ie product type, application, etc.
    5. Do all doors have automatic door closure devices, if not start looking for wood wedges or a chair to hold open the door.
    6. Do the shut of the sprinkler control valves during normal business hours? Yea I actually founds valves closed and asked why....oh to prevent water damage!!!
     
    FM William Burns likes this.
  5. linnrg

    linnrg Sawhorse

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    EXISTING SPACE IS NFPA 13 compliant, has full NFPA 72, and room is not currently rated.

    IBC 903.2 exception requires a one hour enclosure for similar spaces.

    Found out today it is not a FM-200 but a ECARO-35 clean agent. Spoke to the building manager about the project and explained why leaving the NFPA 13 system (or changing to other such as preaction) in the space adds a durable fire protection [NFPA 13 Handbook - water continues to flow] specifically if the clean agent release doe not contain the fire.

    I am not a fire inspector so I wonder from those of you who have experience in response to the agent release - Does the clean agent extinguish most or all of the fires?

    The space is being proposed in a fairly large room and I have not yet seen the "proposed Data Center" proposal/layout. The person I was in contact with felt that it would not be a normally occupied type space. To make the space work they will have to do some sealing and deal with HVAC shutdown.

    What I can't find is any wall or ceiling rating requirements (such as does exist for "electrical rooms" [IBC 903.1.1.1#3 and 4]). I do find the enclosure requirements mentioned by Insurance Engineer and the requirements to seal up the enclosure to allowable limits or adding agent to compensate for openings [NFPA 2001]. In the room proposed this could be easily accomplished. but a enclosure by rated assemblies would be costly and difficult.

    Just finished reading NFPA 2001 - eyes are pretty droopy now.
     
  6. cda

    cda Sawhorse

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    In 30 plus years have not had a fire in a clean agent room. A few misfires!!


    As Ins posted there are a few things that need to be done.

    Normally, unless you require the one hour,,, no rating is required.

    The room has to be sealed up to hold the agent for around ten minutes... sealing confirmed by door fan test.

    Really they are simple systems,,,,


    Highly suggest you require a third party plan review, to include required acceptance inspection guideline, and fire alarm system.

    Should be a FPE that has reviewed clean agent before

    The brand of clean agent normally does not matter
     
  7. Builder Bob

    Builder Bob Sawhorse

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    NO - To many things have to occur for a clean agent room to operate correctly - HVAC shutdown, doors closed, electrical service disconnected, blah, blah, blah.... If the system fails to perform correctly, or the doors are blocked open... the fire sprinkler system will still operate.

    If the other system activates, then the fire sprinkler system should never activate,
     
    my250r11 likes this.
  8. steveray

    steveray Sawhorse

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    I'm in camp no.....
     
  9. Enri Code

    Enri Code Sawhorse

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    Short answer: yes. It is recognized as an alternate fire suppression system to fire sprinklers. (IBC Section 904.2)

    NFPA 2001 is what you need to then take a look at as it is the one that covers systems like FM 200.

    It is quite common for data center... and your more common IT rooms and has grown in popularity versus CO2 as it takes less space and doesn't harm the environment. The fact that it can suppress a fire in 10 seconds is also a tremendous benefit.

    Long answer: you may just need to have a conversation with the AHJ in case they are not familiar with the system. AHJ will have final say.

    Complex answer: depending on AHJ and/or your insurance carrier, they may want you to have both sprinkler (possibly preaction dry system to avoid leaks if that's the big concern...) and clean agent fire suppression which you can do by having different trigger points.

    Crazy enough, you can possibly ditch having to put any fire suppression system for the IT room if you just separate it with a 2 hour wall as code allows... then again, you may still want to have your FM 200 system to manage potential losses.
     
  10. Enri Code

    Enri Code Sawhorse

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    @linnrg Sharing my own experience with FM 200 and to somehow address your concern about the FM 200 being "one shot":

    I've done a couple of projects where we used the FM 200 in an IT room... more specifically rooms that housed servers that would be ruined - along with the valuable data in them - if they were drenched with water.

    Our project is still fully sprinklered with the whole facility having the traditional sprinklers and with just the IT room having the FM 200. The project is still classified as fully sprinklered because the FM 200 was recognized as an alternate fire suppression system. There was no need to have the walls fire rated.

    The FM 200 takes care of any fire inside the IT room... and the sprinklers takes care of any fires outside the IT room.

    If the FM 200 does activate, it can expend the clean agent in its storage tank for sure. Hence why you may call them "one shot".

    If you are concerned that "one shot' may not be enough to kill a fire and the fire can still rage on after the FM 200 is deployed, you may want to do some more research on how the FM 200 actually stops a fire.

    A fire needs oxygen, heat and fuel to happen. The FM 200 deploys a gas that REMOVES the heat. So the fire stops happening and it just would not be possible to reignite.

    You can replace the tanks after they are expended so the system is not a one use deal. Whenever you replace the tanks, the whole system is ready to deploy once more and is like brand new.

    Key here though is that we talked with the AHJ and got his buy off primarily because he himself was not familiar with the FM 200 at the time.

    Hope this helps your thought process.
     
  11. linnrg

    linnrg Sawhorse

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    ENRI CODE

    I have done quite a number of FM 200 systems (as the AHJ and inspection) and have seen the range of buildings that never had sprinklers such as older telco switch rooms that had preactions systems, to server rooms that were isolated and the wet system removed.

    My problem with this is I have yet to see an official layout of the area. A fire contractor submitted for a permit based upon the idea of a "data center". I was initially not opposed to removal of the wet sprinklers but when I visited the room/space it was presently being used for lots of storage of IT equipment. From that I have informed the owner the wet system remain active in place. The owner is awaiting the "data center design". But since this is in a medical facility I think it will be awhile before I hear more about it.
     
  12. Enri Code

    Enri Code Sawhorse

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    It's good you are waiting on more information.

    Terms can indeed be tricky when they just say "IT Room" which can be really mean server room... or equipment storage... or an office, or even just a closet! Same thing with "data center", it can be very vague.

    Good luck.
     
  13. steveray

    steveray Sawhorse

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    If you don't have a full NFPA 13 building, then you don't have a full NFPA 13 building....903.3.1.1....Unless the code official wants to eat it....

    2. A room or space where sprinklers are considered undesirable because of the nature of the contents, where approved by the fire code official.
     
  14. Enri Code

    Enri Code Sawhorse

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    [F] 903.3.1.1 NFPA 13 sprinkler systems.
    where the provision of this code require that a building or portion thereof be equipped throughout with an automatic sprinkler system in accordance with this section, sprinklers shall be installed throughout in accordance with NFPA 13 except as provided in sections 903.1.1.1 and 903.1.1.2

    [F] 903.1.1.1 Exempt locations.
    Automatic sprinklers shall not be required in the following rooms or areas where such rooms or areas are protected with an approved automatic fire detection system in accordance with Section 907.2 that will respond to visible or invisible particles of combustion. Sprinklers shall not be omitted from a room merely because it is damp, of fire resistance-rated construction or contains electrical equipment.

    1. A room where the application of water, or flame and water, constitutes a serious life or fire hazard.
    2. A room or space where sprinklers are considered undesirable because of the nature of the contents, where approved by the fire code official.
    3. Generator and transformer rooms separated from the remainder of the building by walls and floor/ ceiling or roof/ ceiling assemblies having a fire-resistance rating of not less than 2 hours.
    4. Rooms or areas that are of noncombustible construction with wholly noncombustible contents.
    5. Fire service access elevator machine rooms and machinery spaces.
    6. Machine rooms, machinery space, control rooms and control spaces associated with occupant evacuation elevators designed in accordance with Section 3008.

    [F] 903.1.1.2 Bathrooms
    In Group r occupancies, other than Group R-4 occupancies, sprinklers shall not be required in bathrooms that do not exceed 55 square feet in area and are located within individual dwelling units or sleeping units, provided that walls and ceilings including the walls and ceilings behind a shower enclosure or tube, are of noncombustible or limited combustible materials with a 15-minute thermal barrier rating.
     
  15. Enri Code

    Enri Code Sawhorse

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    Is there an ECARO-35? Is that a new version of ECARO-25? I know of the ECARO-25 but had not used it on a project. I did have to research it as an option.

    I understand that the "25" refers to the number of minutes that is the dwell time for the gas so that's pretty impressive if they had increased it to 35 minutes.

    Assuming ECARO-35 is just a newer version of ECARO-25, it puts out all the fire in the space and does so similarly to the FM-200 in that it removes heat from the "fire triangle" (heat, oxygen, fuel). It does so by absorbing the heat energy at the molecular level making combustion and re-ignition impossible.

    It's also non-harmful to humans or the environment. Deployment is similar to sprinkler heads in a way as you know as you are familiar with FM-200.

    Actually systems like these are superior to water if you look at the science as water extinguishes fire by absorbing the heat on a superficial level and not in the molecular level. And of course, water and electricity does not play well together and can cause wreak more havoc versus an agent that is inert against electricity. There's also the matter of water potentially leaching harmful byproducts of combustion onto the environment.

    Frankly, I'm thinking that if it weren't cost prohibitive and most people are educated about these alternative systems, they may opt to use these for more than data centers.

    For people who are unfamiliar to how these are deployed, I suggest looking at the technical literature available as well and they may find that concerns about misfirings or non-deployment are comparable or less so than your regular sprinkler system.

    There are no fire rating requirements for the building elements when using the clean agent apart from what is dictated by Table 601 and 602 or any special provision.

    What you said about Insurance Engineer recommendations and - also manufacturer's recommendations - are consistent with what I see with these systems.

    Good luck.
     

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