A major consideration in any data center renovation is fire protection and suppression. These renovation decisions are not always voluntary. Your goal will be to meet requirements at the very minimum. Additional protection to property such as pre-action sprinklers, piping, and clean agent systems must be evaluated rather than installed by default.

Under NFPA 75 a data center must have a sprinkler system, detection and alarm systems, emergency power-off, and portable fire extinguishers. When in doubt, you should consult the authority having jurisdiction where the data center is located to identify any additional local building bylaws, codes, and regulations in regards to fire protection.

Editor’s note: Refer to “Fire Protection: Only YOU Can Prevent Data Center Fires” for more detailed guidance on options in fire protection.

Renovating fire protection and suppression systems in the data center requires the expertise of a fire engineer to ensure the protection of property, continuity of business and most importantly life safety in the data center are upheld.

Enlist a Fire Protection Engineer

Establishing selection criteria for a fire engineer is important to ensure that the vendor is adequately qualified for your data center renovation project. Use a standardized fire protection engineer selection checklist to aid in the process of procuring a fire engineer for the data center’s renovation of fire protection and suppression systems.

He/she will likely tell you:

  • The number one consideration when evaluating fire protection options is life safety in the data center. It is mandated by law and non-negotiable.
  • Renovating to add a fire suppression system can incur additional costs if the system cannot be retrofitted. Explore the existing system to gage level of work required to install.
  • Non-mandatory fire protection is expensive and must be looked at through the lens of risk and cost of downtime.

The difference between mandatory fire protection in the data center and additional fire protection is an astonishing 341%!

Data Center Fire Protection Costs
Data Center Fire Protection Costs

4 Questions to Ask When Planning Fire Protection in your Data Center

  1. Will the fire protection renovation involve changes to the EPO subsystems?
  2. Will the existing fire protection infrastructure support the renovation (easily retrofitted) or will a whole new system have to be put into place (dry pipe fire suppression system)?
  3. Will the fire protection renovation affect or require change to the physical layout and design of the existing data center?
  4. Will the fire protection renovation require modification to the building fire protection systems?

The bottom line? Our research shows that renovations that involve fire protection and suppression in the data center cost a median of $11,000 to $50,000.

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