An Overview of Fire Safety for Telecommunication Facilities

TelecommunicationInitially a single service industry, telecommunication now includes ATMs, teleconferencing and videoconferencing services, internet access, electronic funds transfer and more. Therefore, the wealth of data that telecommunication entails is more than valuable. With round the clock, uninterrupted service, telecommunication is one of the major sectors that require a planned fire protection strategy.

Telecommunication relies a lot on sensitive data and, therefore, tightly packed computer equipment rise to this occasion. Network equipment and cables are always live with electricity making them prone to frequent fire catastrophes. And this risk is enhanced when buildings housing such hardware are unmanned.

Hazard Areas in Telecommunication Facilities

To develop a successful fire safety plan, it is important to understand the major areas of hazard in telecommunication facilities.

  • Telecommunication equipment including racks and cabinets are prone to slow developing smoky fires.
  • Cables with no fire resistance rating are at risks of fires with high to low heat release rate.
  • The power areas include batteries on racks, switchgear, bus bars and rectifiers. These can catch fires with low heat release rate.
  • Main distribution frame consists of large quantities of low voltage communication wires which are prone to smoky fire with low to medium release rate.
  • The standby engine area which comprises generators powered by internal combustion engine, fuel tanks and batteries can catch electrical or fuel fires.

Steps for Fire Protection

The telecommunication fire typically involves small fires with a potentially large impact. Therefore, it is imperative to employ effective fire protection procedures to curb such incidences.

  1. Smoke and heat detection

Smoke detectors are a boon for telecommunication facilities since they provide very early smoke detection. An aspirating smoke detector (ASD) provides the earliest possible warning of a potential fire. It employs the method of air sampling which involves drawing in air continuously from the room to a high sensitivity detector. A highly sensitive laser detection unit processes the air drawn in by removing contaminants and reducing false alarms.

Spot detectors, on the other hand, employ a passive detection mechanism which gets activated as soon as the smoke reaches the detector. Spot detectors also get activated when the heat in the area surrounding the detector exceeds a threshold.

  1. Suppression mechanism

Fire suppression agents are primarily of three distinct types.

  • Clean Agent: Clean Agents are basically gases which have the ability to extinguish a fire at a very early stage. It does no harm to electronic equipment and a data center can remain operational while clean agents are active. Clean agents suppression is one of the most conventional protection mechanism for sensitive and expensive equipment which leaves no residue for cleanup.
  • Sprinklers: They are designed to control fire for the protection of structure, but not its contents. However, sprinklers may cause considerable damage to electronic equipment.
  • Water mist: The problem caused by sprinkler suppression has been rectified in the more progressive water mist suppression system. The technology employed in water mists atomizes water droplets into a non-conductive fog that helps in controlling fire without damage.

Even though all the three kinds of fire suppressors are effective at battling a fire mishap, when it comes to telecommunication facilities, clean agents are highly effective. This is because clean agents use gases to disrupt the chemical process of a fire and do not pose any threat to the sensitive electronic equipment. But water-based suppressor systems are more likely to leave behind an ample amount of damage after the fire is extinguished.

Fire Codes and Standards

It is important to have an idea about the fire protection standards and rules. Being aware of the right codes of conduct when a fire strikes will help you take the right action so that the fire can be contained and threat can be reduced. These codes have been designed to eliminate injury, death, property and financial loss owing to fire-related hazards.

Even though telecommunication fire generally involves small fires, preventive measures are always recommended to curb causes of such accidents. It is not just digital data that suffer a risk, there are lives at stake too.In the case of a fire accident near Houston, you should immediately avail Houston fire investigation services for prompt action.

This content has been written by Katie Smith on behalf of

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