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FM-200 systems: What data center managers need to know

Get the lowdown on using FM-200 systems for data center fire suppression, and whether or not they're a good choice for your company.

What are FM-200 systems? What are the pros and cons of using them?

FM-200 is a Halon replacement fire suppressant system and is a popular choice for data center professionals. Like Halon, FM-200 systems put out Class A, B and C fires by disrupting the chemical chain reaction. These systems absorb heat, which increases the fire suppression process.

There are several benefits of using FM-200 systems:

  • They are considered very safe and non-toxic when used in accordance with NFPA Standard 2001.
  • They are cleaner than other systems -- FM-200 systems release an odorless, colorless gas than leaves no residue.
  • FM-200 systems won't thermally shock delicate circuitry in data centers.
  • They are on the EPA's Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) list of Halon alternatives.
  • They are available worldwide and are easy to purchase.
  • FM-200 systems can be a solution for data center business continuity when a fire suppression system must be implemented in seconds.

The downsides to using FM-200 systems include:

  • The cost -- they are much more expensive than a sprinkler system and more expensive than Halon.
  • They don't have a totally "green" profile -- while FM-200 doesn't deplete the ozone, it is a greenhouse gas producer that contributes to global warming.

When deciding whether or not an FM-200 system is the best choice for your company, remember that there is no single "right answer" regarding fire protection in a data center. Unpredictable things happen in fires, and if the "recommended" solution doesn't cover that particular contingency, the liabilities are just too high. Regardless of the system, data center managers need to have some kind of plan in place, and the plan should be tested on a regular basis.

More resources on using FM-200 systems

  • Read about Halon vs. FM-200 systems
  • Get answers to your FM-200 FAQs
  • Learn about designing an FM-200 gas suppression system

Note: This tip is a compilation of advice from various experts on our site.

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