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  • Writer's pictureRAN FPE

Special Environment- Protecting Your Data

Organizations are following a major shift from paper storage to digital storage in the recent years. Data centers are the most common place where information is stored, and this information can be confidential, valuable, personal, as well as for research and scientific purposes. Some information that could potentially be lost could be financially detrimental to an organization and its contents. In fire protection, this type of situation is known as a special environment. A special environment is a building or facility that contains sensitive information that can be vulnerable to a fire, but common fire protection systems, such as sprinkler systems, are seldom used due to the large amount of water that is discharged, resulting in damaged equipment and loss of information. So, the question lies, how are we supposed to fight a fire with little to no water?

There are some fire protection systems that can help suppress a fire, while using significantly less water than a traditional fire sprinkler system.

1. The first option is a clean agent system. A clean agent fire suppression system uses an inert gas or chemical that is stored in a container, which is then discharged when a fire is detected. This system helps to suppress the fire without harming the equipment, employees, and the environment, as well as leaves no residues to clean up after the fire is out.

2. Another option is a water mist system, which uses high pressure water to produce very fine water droplets. This system cools the flames and surrounding gasses through evaporation and diminishes radiant heat. The water mist system has high efficiency against fires and minimizes the water damage.

3. A unique alternative is a dual agent fire extinguishing system, designed by Victaulic, and is primarily used for water sensitive facilities. This hybrid system, known as the Victaulic Vortex, uses extremely fine water droplets and nitrogen to suppress fires in special environments. RAN is fully trained on this system and has the experience and knowledge to include it in our system designs. Though these systems are effective, many authorities having jurisdiction will not allow just these systems to be the only means of fire protection. In many cases, a pre-action sprinkler system is required, along with one of these systems.

A pre-action system can be a single or double interlock system depending on intentions and coverage. A single interlock system operates when one event occurs, before water runs into the system. The event can be fire detection from a heat or smoke detector. A double interlock system operates when two events occur, which can be fire detection from a heat or smoke detector and automatic sprinkler operation. After the events occur, the pre-action valve operates, allowing water into the piping, turning a dry system into a wet system.

In connection to these systems, a control panel relies on input from a fire alarm detection system to then open the pre-action valves, initiate the alternative suppression system, sound alarms, and shut down ventilation. These steps maximize effectiveness and safety and helps tremendously to reduce damages.

Special environments are very valuable and delicate but RAN provides fire protection services to ensure that all information and technology is saved as much as possible, while keeping occupants safe. Our experience, skills, and knowledge pertaining to navigating fire protection systems in special environments allows us to exceed expectations and overcome any challenge at hand.

Special Environment Project Example

Disaster Recovery Print Room

Liverpool, NY

RAN was retained to provide fire protection engineering services for the renovation of the District Offices of the New York State Insurance Fund. The scope of the project was to provide a new Alternate Disaster Recovery Print Room. RAN provided the design for the conversion from a wet-sprinkler system to a double-interlock pre-action sprinkler system for the new print room, the design included the layout of a new clean agent system, and an upgrade of the existing fire alarm system. The clean agent system provided fire protection without the risk of water-based damage to sensitive equipment within the print room.

Construction Cost: $42,000 Size: 8,400 sq-ft

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