Minkels offers more guidelines for the implementation of sprinkler and water mist systems in data centres
Installing sprinkler and water mist systems is a requirement in many data centres nowadays. But issues can arise in combination with aisle containment, both in the design and in the installation. Minkels has addressed these issues in an update of its white paper 05 ‘Integration of Aisle Containment with Fire Suppression Systems’.
Using sprinkler and water mist systems in data centres has been commonplace in the United States for a number of years now. “Insurance contracts for data centre buildings demand that sprinkler and water mist systems are used,” says Niek van der Pas, Lead Data Centre Expert at Minkels and co-author of white paper 05 ‘Integration of Aisle Containment with Fire Suppression Systems’. “Even relatively small data centres in English-speaking countries are obliged to use these methods instead of gas-based fire extinguishing. The regulations are not yet so strict in continental Europe. It is however expected that the regulations will soon be tightened up in countries such as Germany, France, Switzerland and the Netherlands.”
The use of sprinkler and water mist systems in data centre environments is very much on the rise. “The owner of a data centre building is often not the same as the data centre service provider operating out of that facility. From the costs point of view, the building owner is more likely to go for sprinkler and water mist systems and not to opt for gas-based extinguishing. Sprinkler and water mist systems mean they are choosing to protect their building. If such fire safety systems are not yet present, white paper 05 provides guidelines for implementing them in combination with aisle containment solutions.”
White paper 05 had already paid attention to the Next Generation Corridor, which allows airflows in data centres to be kept separate from each other, which is energy-efficient. “The white paper is now also paying attention to the Free Standing Corridor. The Free Standing Corridor gives clients the flexibility to add in various types and sizes of racks at a later time. Complete corridors can already be kitted out with fire extinguishing, even if only part of the corridor is in use. This means that certification of the fire extinguishing systems in the whole corridor is possible from an early stage.”
Sprinklers may be obstructed by the aisle containment roof construction. “That’s why Minkels has developed an extensive portfolio of roofing that provides room for sprinklers. Solutions including pivot roofs were discussed earlier in white paper 05, now the updated document is also paying attention to the FM approved Drop Away Panels, an extension to the roofing portfolio.”
Drop Away Panels  provide a seamless integration of aisle containment solutions with sprinkler or water mist systems. “In case of fire in the data centre, the plastic panels of the Drop Away Roof System automatically soften and drop down so that they won’t be an obstacle before the sprinklers  are activated. The system is specifically designed for sprinkler systems to extinguish at 74 degrees Celsius or higher. The Drop Away Panels therefore improve safety and reduce risks in the data centre. But at the same time, the aisle containment systems remain intact.”
About White paper 05 ‘Integration of Aisle Containment with Fire Suppression Systems’
 Drop Away Panels can also be retrofitted. The lightweight panels are ‘FM approved and UL Listed’ as ‘Ceiling Panels for Use Beneath Sprinklers.’ These roof panels that Minkels has designed are eligible for an insurance contract.
 The working of the Drop Away Panels is illustrated in a video: www.youtube.com/minkels_HQ.