Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning (HVAC): Maintaining the environment involves maintenance of the heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) mechanisms. This is vital in computer and server rooms, which should be kept to a temperature of 60 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit or 15 – 23 degrees Celsius, and the humidity should be sustained between 40 and 60 percent. The humidity level is significant in these rooms as high humidity can cause corrosion, and excessively low humidity can cause static electricity.

Water: Physical security policies should be able to deal with water leakage even if they are not a common occurrence. Water leaks can cause extensive damage to electronic equipment, especially while they are operating. Also, running electricity that is exposed to water presents a serious risk of electrocution to personnel. It’s important to locate server rooms away from a water source if possible. Water detection circuits can also be installed on the floor around mission-critical systems. These circuits will trigger an alarm if water is encroached upon the equipment. In addition to monitoring water leaks, the facility’s capacity to withstand severe rain or flooding should also be evaluated.

Fire Detection and Fire Suppression: Fire is a serious risk in environments that have a lot of electronic equipment. Fire detection and fire suppression systems must be installed to preserve the safety of personnel as well as the electronic equipment. Along with the protection of human life, fire detection and suppression diminishes damage caused by fire, smoke, heat, and suppression materials, especially with IT infrastructure. One of the main elements of fire control is awareness training for personnel. Those in training should know the use and location of fire suppression mechanisms in the facility, as well as designated evacuation routes. Other details that can be included in fire response training:

  • cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training
  • emergency shutdown procedures
  • pre-established rendezvous location or safety verification mechanism

Addressing fire detection and suppression also entails reviewing the possible contamination and damage caused by a fire. The destructive elements of a fire include smoke and heat, but also include the suppression material, such as water or soda acid. Smoke is damaging to most storage devices; heat can impact any electronic or computer component. Suppression mediums can cause short circuits, initiate corrosion, or otherwise render equipment useless. All of these potentials must be addressed when designing a fire response system.

Fire Detection Systems: Installing an automated detection and suppression system is vital to efficiently protecting a facility from fire. There are several types of fire detection systems: Fixed temperature detection systems that trigger suppression when a certain temperature is reached. Rate of rise temperature detection systems trigger suppression when the speed at which the temperature changes reaches a critical level. Flame actuated systems trigger suppression based on the infrared energy of flames. Smoke actuated systems trigger suppression based on photoelectric or radioactive ionization sensors. Most of these fire detection systems can be hooked into fire response service notification mechanisms. When suppression is triggered, these linked systems will alert the local fire responders and request aid using an automated message or alarm.

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