KOLKATA: Server rooms that serve as communication and data storage hub in all modern offices have in recent times gained notoriety for becoming the seat of fire in several infernos in the city.
Jeevan Sudha building fire
On Thursday, too, the fire at Jeevan Sudha building on Chowringhee is suspected to have started from the 17th floor server room in SBI’ global market office. There are several factors that make server rooms vulnerable to fire, say fire experts. The foremost among them is the air-conditioning system that requires to function 24×7 servers that work round-the-clock to generate a lot of heat.
“Many fires in the server room has started from an AC unit. In any such heavy duty requirement, we recommend two sets of AC units that should function alternatively every four hours. They need to regularly maintained. Neglecting them often leads to a malfunction that triggers a fire,” said D Biswas, the former assistant director general of fire services department.
Among the AC-induced fires, a majority of them triggered by window units. Since the AC machine of a split unit is outside, the chances of it causing a fire inside is remote even if it goes up in flames.Fire consultants say hardly any office server room maintains fire safety protocols despite the high risk associated with the room full of wires and electrical gadgets that are inflamable.
“Server rooms usually have a false ceiling and false floor. While electrical wires concealed above the false ceiling, both electrical wires and data cables pass under the false floor. The room should have an early smoke detection and alarm system coupled with an inert gas fire suppression system to combat an exigency. Once the gas discharged, oxygen supply is cut off and the fire is doused. Unfortunately, even server rooms of major companies do not have the systems in place,” said fire consultant Tarak Chakraborty.
Experts also point that server rooms become particularly vulnerable during holidays when offices not manned. “Since the server room functions 24×7, they must monitored all the time. At least, there must be someone efficient present to handle the situation if there is an alarm. But this rarely happens. For instance, on Friday, the guard supposed to have fled after he allegedly heard an explosion,” he pointed out