The rapid growth of Cloud-based services has placed a significant demand onto hyper-scale data centres. We are now seeing an increase in computing power without the same notable increase in used floor area. The concentration of electrical power being drawn within these confined spaces provides the perfect opportunity for fire ignition.
Halocarbon vs Inert
There are typically two types of fire extinguishing systems used in the protection of these data halls: halocarbon and inert. The halocarbon systems use chemical cooling to extinguish the fire. Liquefied gases are super-pressurized with dry nitrogen, discharging in typically 10 seconds. This generates an under-pressure within the enclosed space, followed by an over-pressure. Apreco has a patented SGV® range of pressure relief vents for this application. Our unique 2-way venting system offers the same performance in both directions keeping installation simple.
It is also important to note that when pressure relief vents are forced to open at very high pressures, there is a risk of damaging the protected room’s structural integrity. Apreco were the first company to recognise such risks and as such our products have been designed to fully open between 100 – 125Pa.
Inert gas systems use a pressurized inert gas stored in cylinders at 150 to 300 bar, depending on the system design. This works by reducing the oxygen within the protected space to less than 15% by volume to extinguish the fire., with a discharge time of between 60 to 120 seconds. The IGV® range of vents from Apreco provides our customers with outstanding performance.
We are a specialist in air pressure control and supply our pressure relief vents around the world. So, what makes Apreco market leaders?
Apreco were the first manufacturer to obtain EWCL5 certification for our pressure relief vents. In partnership with Warrington Fire, the Fire Industry Association (FIA) working groups and the Building Services Research and Information Association (BSRIA), we created the test protocol used in conjunction with EWCL5.
With no harmonised code available for testing at the time, we utilized product approvals scheme based around BSEN Standards, which is a programme for products requiring a fire testing but with no test standard in place.
Certification for pressure relief vents, although not widely available, has now become a non-negotiable global requirement, and Apreco continues to lead the way in fire safety with our annual testing.
In addition to the fire-resistance test, Apreco also performed airflow testing with BSRIA, which is referenced on the EWCL5. This gives you a performance that has been verified by experts for airflow and fire safety – something that is lacking in the industry. Following on from this we have also used and are continuing to use door fan blower kits, such as those offered by Retrotec to confirm the free vent area performance, often referred to as equivalent leakage area (EqLA).
Our current UK manufactured IGV® and SGV® pressure relief vent products are being installed in data centres, oil refineries and museums across the world, including new builds and large-scale refurbishment projects. Insurers are demanding that tested pressure relief vents are installed alongside fire suppression systems. In response to this, we supply the oil and gas industries with our blast rated dynamic cover seals, which prevent debris being forced into the protected room.
While we work closely with some of the large multinational companies, we also do a lot of business with a wide range of smaller companies that purchase the gaseous fire suppressions systems from large manufacturers and include pressure relief vents in their package. Overseas, our products are purchased by the main contractors or the suppression system supplier. When required, we are happy to assist in the sizing of the pressure relief vents for a given project.
What does the future look like for the fire suppression industry?
There is a very difficult situation in some countries where people are manufacturing products that have not been tested. This risk is that some of these vents could find their way into the UK market. We do have some protection on the SGV, where we have patent protection in place. However, when you read the specification of some products out there in the market, you realize that they are not fit for purpose. The tests we conduct on our products are not cheap to carry out and it is difficult to compete on price with competitors that are not offering certified products. In the UAE and other Middle East countries, they are tightening up on this; increasingly, companies want to know that the products are certified, which is good news for all.
The fire suppression industry has seen changes in best practice across the world and people are now accepting the fact that, for certain things, you need pressure relief venting. This has been helped by gas suppression manufacturers also stating that they believe these vents are needed.
The biggest challenge we face as a business is the issue of price and quality, particularly in the fire sector, as everyone is trying to do things for the cheapest price. Sometimes you feel that this can have a real detrimental effect on the quality of the final installation, with the risk of what is finally delivered to the customer is not what it should be – a genuine concern for such a safety-critical system.
The benefits of choosing Apreco:
- UK Manufactured products to ISO 9001:2015
- An Annual inspection by Warringtonfire Certification to ensure compliance with EWCL5
- All Apreco fire-rated products are re-tested for Fire Integrity within a 5-year period
For more information, go to www.apreco.com