The Most Common Causes of Server Room Fires Might Surprise You

According to the National Fire Protection Association, every year between 2006 and 2010 there were approximately 209 structural fires that originated in electronic equipment rooms, such as server rooms, reported in the US.

The estimated breakdown of costs per year to pay for these damages is in the millions, $11.9 million to be exact. Insurance may cover damages, but not all damages can be resolved with money. Fires can lead to loss of important data that cannot be retrieved. That’s why it’s so important to outfit your server room with appropriate cooling measures and fire detectors. It’s always cheaper to prevent fires as opposed to treating the messy aftermath.

The National Fire Protection Association reports that 78% of non-home electronic equipment room fires originated with electronic equipment. 33% were related to ignition, 29% electrical distribution or lighting equipment, and 16% were spurred by issues with ventilation, heating, or AC equipment.

Furthermore, 77% of reported fires occurred in structures with detectors, and 35% also had sprinkler systems installed. The percentage of sprinkler systems might seem low, but it’s common for people to avoid adding sprinkler systems to server rooms, or other electronic equipment rooms, because water can damage electronics as much as fire.

These numbers highlight how easy it is for electronic equipment to overheat and start a fire. You might be surprised just how quickly servers can heat up; the more servers giving off heat, the more risks go up.

What is the Ideal Temperature for Server Rooms?

All server rooms should be kept at an appropriate temperature, somewhere between 50°

and 82° F. Most experts recommend keeping server rooms between 68° and 71° F.

Humidity is important too. Relative humidity levels should be maintained between 40% and 60% rH. Air becomes dry when there is not enough humidity, thus creating static electricity in systems and increasing the risk of fire. If humidity levels are too high, air becomes moist and can cause corrosion that’ll eventually damage your equipment and cause permanent failure.

The Most Common Causes of Server Room Fires

Server rooms are at a heightened risk for fire without proper temperature and humidity level regulation and fire suppression measures. The most common causes of server room fires include:

-Electrical failure of IT equipment

This is the number one most common cause of server room fires. When electrical components short circuit or become overloaded they are at risk of catching fire.

-Issues with subfloor wiring

Issues with wiring in the subfloor can ignite a fire.

-Overheated Electronics

Without appropriate air conditioning systems, equipment is at risk of overheating. It doesn’t take long after a cooling system fails for servers to overheat, that’s why backup AC systems can prove vital. If electronics overheat, they can sustain severe and irreversible damage.

-Unrelated fires

Server rooms have a lot of wall and ceiling cable penetrations, offering access points for fires in other parts of the building to spread. There are techniques used to wall off server rooms to reduce the risk of fire spreading.

Tips to Help Prevent Server Room Fires

Install Warning Measures

Fire detectors and carbon monoxide detectors can help alert you to the issue before it has a chance to spread and get out of hand.

Properly Design Your Server Room

Proper server room design is essential to reduce the risk of fire. For instance, sloppy wires or placing servers too close together can increase the risk of overheating.

Keep Server Room Clean

Even papers in a wastebasket can become fuel for fire, that’s why it’s so important to maintain a spotless server room at all times.

Install Cooling Systems

We offer superior cooling systems for server rooms. We have both air-cooled and water-cooled spot coolers available for rent and purchase. The same central AC system used to cool off the rest of your building is generally not efficient for server rooms because your server room needs more AC. Properly cooling off your server room with the central AC system can cause the rest of the building to feel like an ice box, plus it can cost a fortune. Spot coolers are ideal because they let you pick the right temperature for your server room.