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The health and safety of people should always be the first concern for fire protection measures, but for many businesses it’s also important to have defences for equipment critical to their business operation.

The damage caused by a fire to specialist machinery or servers containing valuable data goes far beyond financial losses. Many businesses never entirely recover, losing orders, contracts and key employees during the interruption, and may even go out of business altogether.

Fires in computer and server rooms are typically caused by power problems in raceways, raised floors and other concealed areas.

While a detection system will identify the presence of fire, a properly designed gaseous fire suppression system can help reduce and could prevent losses altogether.

  • Tell your insurance broker you’re considering installing a gaseous fire suppression system before any installation work takes place and submit the outline specification to your insurer for review and approval.
  • Use a competent contractor who is independently approved under the LPS 1204 or BAFE SP203-3 scheme. This will make sure the design and installation of the system is in line with applicable standards.

    - Make sure your contractor does a risk assessment identifying the asset protection, business continuity and safety objectives of the system. There must also be suitable hazard analysis (analysing the potential impact to the building, people and equipment should the system activate) to work out which suppression agent to use.
  • Have a standalone fire detection system working with the gas suppression system, installed to an appropriate standard (e.g. BS 7273-1) by a company with suitable 3rd party accreditation, such as LPS 1014; the detection system will need to be linked to the main fire alarm panel for life safety protection.
  • Ensure the area being protected is only used to house equipment and not filled with combustible materials that would overstretch the system.
  • Put suitable ventilation systems in place to prevent over-pressurisation of the area, which could cause structural failure and stop the system from controlling the fire.
  • Consult the system installer if you’re thinking of changing the layout of the room – a redesign of the gaseous fire suppression system may be required.
  • Consider measures to enable remote monitoring of the gaseous fire suppression system when the building will be empty, like a CCTV system linked to a remote alarm receiving centre and/or a permanently manned location on site (e.g. the security control room).
  • Organise a service and maintenance contract for the system, considering the applicable standards, relevant guidance and recommendations from the contractor who installed it.
Your fire safety measures must meet the requirements of UK and regional legislation.
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