Zit Seng's Blog

A Singaporean's technology and lifestyle blog

Fire Suppression Gas Discharged

We witnessed the discharge of HFC227ea (FM200) fire suppression gas a few days ago! It was really a special and unique experience because few people ever get to witness the discharge of FM200 gas.

FM200 is a clean agent residue free fire suppression gas often used in data centres. FM200 gas, instead of water or other chemicals, is discharged into the room to extinguish a fire. The main advantages of FM200 is that it is safe to use around all types of electrical and electronics equipment, safe for humans, and leaves no residue after the gas has been discharged.

Actually, the gas is HFC227ea, and FM200 is the name of the product you buy from Great Lakes. (This is a bit like how Xerox has become synonymous with “photocopier”.) There are other types of fire suppression systems that use HFC227ea gas and they may be marketed under different brand names.

One of the most important benefit of a clean agent residue free fire suppression system in a data centre environment is that IT operations can continue uninterrupted when the gas is discharged. Servers, network equipment, disk storage, and all sorts of equipment just continue running as normal. Furthermore, because there is no residue left behind after discharge, there is no clean-up. In fact, the gas clears away fairly quickly, so people can return to the room very quickly after the fire has been put out. As a result, there is very minimal impact to business operations.

Had water been used, you’d be quite certain all electrical systems would have short-circuited, and thereafter, not only would you be left with damaged equipment, you’d also have a mess in the room to clean up.

HFC227ea gas is not particularly cheap. As a result, no one actually discharges HFC227ea gas as part of a system testing and commissioning exercise. No one discharges the gas for testing or demonstration purposes either. This makes our experience rather special. So how did we get to experience our gas discharge? Well, *secret*.

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