With NFPA 75 increasingly gaining attention, IT professionals are questioning how data center will be impacted by the newly revised standards for data center fire suppression. Good question. It’s been a couple of years since the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) revised the standard, along with NFPA 76. But confusion still abounds.

Although the specifications in NFPA 75 are currently standards, they could become code if state governments should choose to individually adopt them under the legislation as they have with NFPA 70 — which was adopted in all 50 states to set regulations for the installation of electrical conductors, equipment and raceways.

In this video, Alex Carroll, co-owner of Lifeline Data Centers, talks about the NFPA 75, pointing out that NFPA 75 outline guidelines for the industry. “It’s a hot topic for a lot of people,” Carroll acknowledges. “It’s a guideline so IT professionals, architect engineers and fire marshals can at least have a starting point on what a data center ought to become from a fire hazard and fire safety perspective.”

Although they are still only guidelines, Carroll notes, there is merit in implementing them. “All of these guidelines should be taken to heart,” Carroll said. “They’re not difficult to understand. In a couple of years, you can easily budget for all of the requirements.”

Carroll also says that NFPA 75 includes some basic safety measures, including setting up a plan in the event of a fire and checking equipment to ensure that it is flame resistant.

The NFPA 75, as defined in the guidelines, “is to provide the minimum requirements for the protection of information technology equipment and information technology equipment areas from damage by fire or its associated effects — namely, smoke, corrosion, heat, and water.” It also states that it provides minimum level of requirements to protect IT equipment from fire and the effects of fire.

NFPA 75 was originally developed in the wake of a fire at the Pentagon in 1959. According to the Arlington Fire Journal, the fire started in a basement computer room, burning for more than five hours. It caused about $30 million in damage to the computer equipment and the building.

Several years later, the fire protection association adopted NFPA 75 as the Standard for the Protection of Electronic Computer Systems. The standards were designed to provide recommendations that would prevent fires started by computer equipment. NFPA has undergone additional revisions, with the next revision scheduled to be included in the 2016 NFPA edition.

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Rich Banta

Rich Banta

Managing Member at Lifeline Data Centers
Rich is responsible for Compliance and Certifications, Data Center Operations, Information Technology, and Client Concierge Services. Rich has an extensive background in server and network management, large scale wide-area networks, storage, business continuity, and monitoring. Rich is a former CTO of a major health care system. Rich is hands-on every day in the data centers. He also holds many certifications, including: CISA – Certified Information Systems Auditor CRISC – Certified in Risk & Information Systems Management CDCE – Certified Data Center Expert CDCDP – Certified Data Center Design Professional