But it WILL stay dry

An electrical fire breaks out above the ceiling tiles in this server room, and it leaves a long-lasting impression, reports a pilot fish in the know.

"In the past, the room was a large mainframe room and was protected by a Halon fire suppression system," fish says. "Since then, the company was acquired by another company and the mainframes were removed.

"The large room was relegated to half a dozen racks of servers and network gear for the existing business units in the building."

And the Halon system is still working. Trouble is, there aren't any smoke sensors above the ceiling tiles to trigger it when that ceiling fire breaks out.

Fortunately, the fire smolders for quite a while, and thanks to an alert security guard, there's no catastrophe -- just minor water and smoke damage to unoccupied areas of the big room.

Some time later, management decides to get rid of the Halon and replace it with a sprinkler system.

But the server admins, remembering the water damage from the last time there was a fire, are understandably concerned about what will happen if the water hits their equipment next time.

And they come up with an idea. "They commissioned the Facilities team to install large, clear panels to be hung above the equipment racks, sort of like an indoor roof," says fish. "The panels were hung at an angle that allowed the water to run off onto the floor behind the racks.

"So now there's a fire suppression system that will not kill a fire that may begin in any of the equipment racks.

"That is, of course, until the flames get big enough and melt the plastic."

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Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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