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Should we continue to use a Halon fire suppression system?

We have had a Halon fire suppression system for many, many years in our small server room. It is checked and serviced twice a year. Recently we moved around some electrical panels and now the alarm panel power cutoff switch is no longer connected. I think one benefit of a Halon system (over a sprinkler system) is that you can save your computer equipment, but only if you cut the power the moment before the Halon goes off, to keep the halon out of the insides of the equipment.
I have been told that it will cost more than a few bucks to correct the cutoff circuit, and I should consider whether or not to continue to use the halon system. Any advice? Are there better systems now, ones that will not require an electrical shutoff to equipment?
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robw24
Asked:
robw24
5 Solutions
 
romans3Commented:
There are several system available that you can use. These systems are also human save unlike the halon. The systems you can look at is NAFS 3 or the other are PYROSHIELD. I am not sure what it would cost in your country but in South Africa it costs rount abour R 38000 for a full system to cover a server room of about 12 sqare meters. No shutdown of electricity required.
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RowleyCommented:
Another thing to consider is that your insurers may render any claim against your insurance invalid if its found that the halon system was disabled...
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robw24Author Commented:
Rowley, would it be considered to be disabled if the power cutoff was not working? The Halon will still discharge, it's just that the equipment may all still be running.
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RowleyCommented:
I wouldn't like to say. I would check with your insurers, they may be unwilling to pay out if the halon system is not functioning correctly and a discharge destroys a disproportionate amount of kit because the power didn't cut.
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MarkCommented:
Here is an interesting article debating the question of the effect of Halon and CO2 fire extinguishing agents on running computer equipment.
http://www.nafed.org/resources/library/C02comp.cfm

As Rowley has pointed out, your insurer would have the final say in this. Best to contact them and get their answer in writing.
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robw24Author Commented:
Thanks everyone. One final more direct question: Would the Halon gas damage the servers if the servers were not powered off at the time of the Halon discharge?
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Duncan MeyersCommented:
No - Halon won't harm the computers in itself, however, it decomposes in the presence of flame (or high enough heat) to produce some truly nasty by-products. The most worrying ones are Hydrogen Fluoride and Hydrogen Bromide. Hydrogen Fluoride will combine with moisture (such as the water in the air from the aircon humidifiers) to form Hydrofluoric Acid which is strongly corrosive. Really nasty stuff, too. You don't want to get it on your skin, and it won't do your computers any good at all.

So - Halon gas won't hurt the computers unless there's a flame - which is why the stuff was released in the first place. If Halon is released, don't enter the computer room because you really, really, really don't want an encounter with the nasties that result from the decomposition of the gas.

Carbon Dioxide is suddenly looking like a pretty good alternative....
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