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    Extinguishers Are Required in Computer Rooms

    By Mark Conroy

    First, the standard requires the installation of listed carbon dioxide extinguishers or listed halogenated agent fire extinguishers for the protection of information technology equipment. Both carbon dioxide and halogenated agent are compatible with electronic equipment and electronic media records, because they are electrically non-conductive and leave no residue (both evaporate quickly). They can be used safely on fires that directly involve the equipment and fires that surround or are in the general vicinity of the equipment. Although dry chemical extinguishers are listed for Class C (electrical) fires, NFPA 75 prohibits them from being installed in information technology equipment rooms or areas

    Second, portable fire extinguishers with a minimum rating of 2-A are required to be provided in accordance with NFPA 10. These fire extinguishers are for potential fires involving ordinary combustible materials. Since these rooms and areas are generally considered to be a "Light Hazard Occupancy", in accordance with NFPA 10, the maximum area per unit of “A” is 3000 ft2. The following table was developed using this criteria and can be used to determine the minimum number of extinguishers to satisfy the area of coverage requirement.

    Minimum Quantity of Fire Extinguishers for Class A Hazards in Computer Rooms
    Area (FT2) 2-A Rated Extinguishers
    20,000 4
    40,000 7
    60,000 10
    80,000 14
    100,000 17

    Typical Sign for Computer Room Fire Extinguisher
    HALOGENATED AGENT FIRE EXTINGUISHER: This extinguisher can be used on fires involving electrical equipment or common combustibles.

    Designated information technology equipment area personnel are required to be provided with instructions on the use of all available portable fire extinguishers. This training should encompass both the capabilities and the limitations of each type of extinguisher provided and the proper operating procedures.

    The National Fire Protection Association developed and maintains this standard to provide a reasonable level of safety for occupants of these spaces and for the protection of the exposed property. The extinguishers installed in these areas, and in the vicinity, help ensure business or service continuity.

    The owner of the property, where the fire extinguishers are located, has an obligation for the care and use of the extinguishers at all times. For this reason, NFPA 75 requires that the extinguishers be maintained in accordance with NFPA10. The property owner ultimately has a responsibility for extinguishing equipment and planning how fires will be managed so that the services supported by the information technology equipment will be maintained.

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