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April, 30 2018

High-quality material saves lives

Smoke, sources of fire and flying sparks - a horror scenario for every company and its data center. In an emergency, people are in danger and there is a risk of losing data and destroying expensive IT infrastructure. What does not fall victim to the fire, suffers at the latest when the sprinkler system is switched on. Corrosive fumes in combination with extinguishing water can form corrosive acids. This may attack metallic objects such as electronics or structural steel and damage these elements, even if they are not in the immediate vicinity of the source of the fire. In the worst case, in such an incident, not only the data center but the entire company is on the brink of collapse. In the age of digitalization and the Internet, data is the lifeline of every organization.

Cable density in buildings continues to grow
The triumphant advance of electronic work equipment and the increasing digitalization of the working world are ensuring increasing density of cabling in almost all commercial buildings. Similarly, the amount of combustible materials is growing. In addition, many buildings still use numerous old cabling infrastructures, that do not comply with the requirements of the current European Construction Products Regulation. The number of potential fire sources is therefore high.
In the event of a fire, the cable density commonly used today also shortens the period from the formation of a fire, until the flue gas ignites (pyrolysis gases). In 1950, those affected had about 15 minutes to leave a burning building undamaged, but the time window for the evacuation in 2010 shrank to only three minutes. The more digitization progresses, the more cables are laid, and data centers get equipped with components based on plastic parts, the more critical the situation will become in the future.

Fire protection is a matter of planning
Therefore, it is most important, to reduce the possible fire load during the planning and installation of a data center as well as in the cabling of buildings. This ensures better fire protection in advance. The German security council BSI provides detailed information on fire load reduction in its IT-Grundschutz catalogue, which can be accessed via the following link: (available only in German)
Bitkom also provides information on reducing unnecessary fire loads in data centers in its guideline for a reliable data center, which can be downloaded free of charge from the Digital Association's website (available only in German).
In addition to general recommendations for fire protection, the list of measures to be taken also contains important information for avoiding unnecessary fire loads.

Plastic components increase the fire load
The use of plastics is problematic in data centers. Preventive measures can be taken here with modern cabling in which fire-resistant materials are used and plastics are avoided. The EU Construction Products Regulation 305/2011 specifies exactly what secure data cabling should look like and what it should achieve. It has been binding for all member states since July 2013. The European regulations list the fire protection properties of products. For the first time, cables and data cables are also declared in the Construction Products Regulation. This makes it an important guide for manufacturers of IT components and data center planners.
Another important component in modern data centers is e.g. the 19" distribution housing. Unfortunately, many manufacturers are increasingly using plastics or plastic parts in their production. Although the majority of these plastics are flame-retardant, their use increases the risk of fire. The more such risky components are used, the greater the risk. Despite the flame retardancy of plastics, it is usually only a question of the energy and duration of the fire until these materials also burn.

Fire protection made easy
In view of this development, it is even more important to rely on a modern cabling infrastructure, that attaches great importance to fire protection. Rosenberger OSI has fulfilled the requirements of the Construction Products Regulation for many years. The cabling range was adapted early on to European and international safety, fire protection and health standards.
Rosenberger OSI also had fire protection in mind when designing the low plastic SMAP-G2 19" distribution housing. It is made of non-combustible aluminum sheet and almost no plastic parts are used. The robust housing is lightweight and can be easily installed in a wide variety of data center cabinets. This saves installation time and costs. Complexity and unnecessary design details were completely dispensed within the development of the housing. Due to its low complexity, the SMAP-G2 19" distribution box is easy to install and operate, which greatly simplifies the installation of the cabling infrastructure. With its low plastic housing solution, Rosenberger OSI thus makes an important contribution to more fire protection in the data center.

Read more about fire protection and also the importance of the CPR for datacenters in our whitepaper.

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