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Old 09-06-2009, 06:19 PM   #1
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"what does that button do?"


Ever been faced with this thought on the job? I've been working for a few months now at one of our major customers (Hospital) and in the server room there is this plate with a black button on it. There is zero writing on it, but the plaster job around it is very shoddy and it looks like it was added at some point, and not there from the start.

There's also this switch, this makes me laugh, it says "fire hazard, do not turn on". That one is a little, scary, to say the least.

When they installed our UPS there were 2 big panels installed in the office with a single button on it that says "horn". Kinda an odd name. It really made us wonder what it did but we were too chicken to press it. One day someone sits a box on top of the cabinet below the boxes and it happens to hold the button down, then it beeps frantically and all the lights turn on. Turns out it's a test button to make sure all the leds work.

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Old 09-07-2009, 01:45 PM   #2
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"what does that button do?"


I've wired a bunch of server rooms, mystery buttons are usually one of two things.

1) Every server room is required to have an emergency power off of some sort. This is because there is a UPS somewhere, and if the building power is shut off in an emergency, the UPS will still supply power to the server room.

2) Most, if not all, server rooms have some sort of fire supression system that's independent of the rest of the building. I don't know if this is a national code or local, but fire sprinklers are specifically not allowed in server rooms. It would be very hazardous to have all that electrical equipment soaked with water and powered by a UPS. Around here, an FM200 system is used. It's a gas type, and is fatal to humans. There's always a 'fire supression system abort' buttom somewhere in the room, usually near the door. This is to prevent the release of the gas if someone is in the room, the system is tripped, and there's no actual fire.

Yours was obviously just a test button, but it could have been worse!

Rob

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Old 09-07-2009, 05:53 PM   #3
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"what does that button do?"


Yeah we do have a fire suppression but that is a big blue button in a plastic case.

We also have a sprinkler system which is not exactly the smartest thing to have in a server room. Not sure if it's against code or not here, but I would assume it is.
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Old 10-29-2009, 02:40 AM   #4
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"what does that button do?"


Heh, made me think of a funny scene from the movie Men In Black:

Quote:
Kay: Remember the little red button?
Jay: Yeah.
Kay: Push the little red button.
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Old 10-29-2009, 07:51 AM   #5
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"what does that button do?"


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Originally Posted by Red Squirrel View Post
Yeah we do have a fire suppression but that is a big blue button in a plastic case.

We also have a sprinkler system which is not exactly the smartest thing to have in a server room. Not sure if it's against code or not here, but I would assume it is.
Lotta hub and server rooms have sprinklers systems, but they are pre-action systems that are normally dry. It takes a series of events to activate and fill them with water. Opening a sprinkler head by itself won't cause water to flow.
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Old 11-02-2009, 02:25 PM   #6
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"what does that button do?"


im in class at high school and in the computer lab (big room with lots of computers and LOTS of multi plug extensin cords)there is NO fire suppression system only a hot water heater ha but there is a vary small (YESS ITS RED) button with a light switch plate rigged on it on the cielling but it dont go to the lights it runs into the concret wall an dont come out into the other room, but one day i jumped an pressed it wit a pen and it broke the lil button fell out oops, but i walked down the hallway a min later and ALL the fire lights and exit signs where on but no noise and stayed on for like 4days ha ha turns out it was some kind of test for the missing fire lights in the computer room but someone wired in into the whole billdings fire light things and worse the staff and fix it pepole didint kno what was going on or where the button was an i didint tell em,. they did find it days later an now its an empty shell up there but its a funny story anyway
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Old 11-02-2009, 02:29 PM   #7
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"what does that button do?"


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Originally Posted by Maintenance 6 View Post
Opening a sprinkler head by itself won't cause water to flow.
in SOME of the dry systems you would be correct. In others, not.



there is no reason to care if a dry or wet system is in a server room and most of the time it will be a wet system.

Why would there be a problem with a sprinkler in a server room? If there is a fire, you still want to put it out.
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Old 11-02-2009, 03:05 PM   #8
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"what does that button do?"


Sprinklers in a room with high voltage and high-dollar electronics? SURE. We have water sensors in some of ours, along with cameras. I've seen switches getting DRENCHED with water and not fail - I just tested and wiped one last week that you would swear was a goner. All the UPS units and backups I've worked with have failsafes for H2O. Now whether or not a human would survive in a wet server room or telco closet...Myself and many more techs are still here.

The dry systems are pretty much contained in the units themselves - we did away with halon and the other junk years ago when this technology became available. The outer environments - sprinklers. Everything is raised off of the floor on racks, and the huge units are resting on false floors. Not everything gets thought of in a design, but safety is always #1.



Oh, and some of those are dummy buttons that they install to see who the dummy is that will press them.
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Old 11-02-2009, 03:37 PM   #9
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"what does that button do?"


Quote:
=DIYtestdummy;348422]Sprinklers in a room with high voltage and high-dollar electronics? SURE.
Ya, sure. They are put over panels all the tiime. You know, the panels that feed power to the data room?


Quote:
We have water sensors in some of ours, along with cameras. I've seen switches getting DRENCHED with water and not fail - I just tested and wiped one last week that you would swear was a goner. All the UPS units and backups I've worked with have failsafes for H2O. Now whether or not a human would survive in a wet server room or telco closet...Myself and many more techs are still here.
Not real sure what you are saying but fire codes do not except data rooms from requiring to be sprinkled and unless some idiot pops a head, there is no water.

Quote:
The dry systems are pretty much contained in the units themselves -
I hate to tell you this but no, they are not, necessarily. Many dry systems simply use a pressure differential valve with air pressure in the sprinkler system until a head pops. Then, since the air pressure drops, the water pressure overcomes the differential valve and we have flow. The water lines are fed through the very same lines that feed the rest of the building.


Quote:
we did away with halon and the other junk years ago when this technology became available.
dang guy, I have been working around dry systems for over 20 years yet I can still find halon systems where halon systems are appropriate.


Quote:
Everything is raised off of the floor on racks, and the huge units are resting on false floors. Not everything gets thought of in a design, but safety is always #1.
and I have done my share of climbing around in those raised floors (for cables by the way; they have nothing to do with water) and for safety? ya, putting out a fire is much more important that any data in the equipment and the rest is merely losing hardware.
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Old 11-02-2009, 05:33 PM   #10
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"what does that button do?"


Speaking about telecom switches and building power - are we on the same page? I only have 11 years, but I'd only have this job if I knew what I know.

M'kay...I'll get pics when I get back in the field - I didn't believe it either. No Halon in ANY of our rooms because of the risk. Codes require NO WATER around electrical equipment, but whatd'yaknow? SPRINKLERS required by the fire marshall. Idiocracy and the double-edged sword. Don't even ask about our government accounting system!

I don't work on the BIG stuff, but YES - they do have self-contained dry fire systems and cooling systems. We already had them in use before I took seminars and found out about them.

DON'T HIT THAT BIG RED BUTTON!!!
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Old 11-02-2009, 07:13 PM   #11
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"what does that button do?"


Quote:
Codes require NO WATER around electrical equipment, but whatd'yaknow?

What codes require no water around electrical equipment?

what codes and what sections are you talking about? Elucidate.

Do you have an NEC? Try 110.26(F)(1)(c)

Quote:
No Halon in ANY of our rooms because of the risk.
actually, it is illegal to install a NEW halon system but existing systems can remain in place and can even be recharged if needed. The reason they cannot be in new construction is not because of safety but because of the fact that halon is an ozone depleting chemical, like R12 and R22 and as such, due to the Montreal Protocol of 1987.

Quote:
SPRINKLERS required by the fire marshall.
the fire marshal does not require anything. They enforce the NFPA codes which have been accepted into local or state building codes.

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I don't work on the BIG stuff, but YES - they do have self-contained dry fire systems and cooling systems.
Big stuff? Not sure what you refer to but the last building I worked in used dry systems for outside areas that were required to be sprinkled. Obviously if you have water standing in the pipes in freezing weather, you will have problems (broken heads, broken pipes) so a dry system is used. The pressure differential valve is probably the most common dry system control I have seen. It only requires a popped head to initiate.

total area for the dry pipe system was probably around 6000 sq ft.

the data/telecom room was about 1500 sq ft with at least 2 closets on each floor (of 6 floors) of around 500 sq feet each plus a few smaller closets spread around for some very specific systems.

I have worked with fire link controlled systems as well where a wire, that is a fire link as well is used to provide a continuity for the detection system. When there is a fire that melts the wire/link, the control panel reads that as a fire and starts a pump. Due to the cost and complexity of the system, I have not seen that type of system used often.

dry type systems? Are you speaking of a halon or halon replacement system? Like CO2 or heptafluoropropane?




and cooling systems? what does that have to do with anything? If you want to get into HVAC, I can but that is an entirely different subject.


So, post up those codes that prohibit water from a telecom room so we can move this discussion along.
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Old 11-03-2009, 08:50 AM   #12
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"what does that button do?"


Quote:
Originally Posted by nap View Post
in SOME of the dry systems you would be correct. In others, not.



there is no reason to care if a dry or wet system is in a server room and most of the time it will be a wet system.

Why would there be a problem with a sprinkler in a server room? If there is a fire, you still want to put it out.
Not all dry systems are "pre-action" systems. Some are freeze proof systems, charged with air pressure and will become very wet, very quickly when a sprinkler head opens. A pre-action system requires a sprinkler head to open and a detector to activate the system before water will flow. Sure, you can put a wet system in place, or a chemical suppression system, or a pre-action. It's a matter of which risk your insurance carrier is willing to accept. Fire or water damage? which is more likely, and which will cause the greater loss? All three would pass code. As far as water in electrical areas, I can show you switchgear rooms with sprinklers over 15KV gear. All per code, but if a head opens, I don't want to be there for the BOOM.
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Old 11-03-2009, 09:11 AM   #13
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"what does that button do?"


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Originally Posted by Maintenance 6 View Post
Not all dry systems are "pre-action" systems. Some are freeze proof systems, charged with air pressure and will become very wet, very quickly when a sprinkler head opens. A pre-action system requires a sprinkler head to open and a detector to activate the system before water will flow. Sure, you can put a wet system in place, or a chemical suppression system, or a pre-action. It's a matter of which risk your insurance carrier is willing to accept. Fire or water damage? which is more likely, and which will cause the greater loss? All three would pass code. As far as water in electrical areas, I can show you switchgear rooms with sprinklers over 15KV gear. All per code, but if a head opens, I don't want to be there for the BOOM.
I don't believe I have argued to the contrary. DIYtestdummy is the person claiming a sprinkler system is not allowed, per code, in a telcom/server room.I was stating that it was allowed, or more correctly, not disallowed by code and in fact, is used in practice.

You stated they were but were pre-action systems. I know that is not necessarily true and you have just supported my position so:

why are you guys arguing with me? DIYdummy is obviously just incorrect but you..you come back and even support my statements.

I am not arguing which is better. I am just arguing the factual application.
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Old 11-03-2009, 02:02 PM   #14
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"what does that button do?"


You quoted one line out my original post and then told me I was incorrect. I only tried to clarify my original post. I stand by my original statement. A dry pre-action sprinkler system will not flow water just by the activation of a sprinkler head, either by accident or in a fire situation. A specific chain of events is required. There are plenty of valuable data centers that use that technology. There are plenty that don't. The point is that just because you see a sprinkler head, don't assume that water will come out of it in case it accidently opens. Fire suppression systems are mandated in data centers, the same as any other commercial establishment. The type selected could be wet sprinkler, dry sprinkler, or chemical. All will extinguish fires, some with more or less damage to the equipment and the occupants. All are acceptable by code. Not all carry the same level of passive risk. If that's an argument, well so be it.
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Old 11-03-2009, 03:00 PM   #15
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"what does that button do?"


I was wrong in my CODE statments - I did the research after shooting my mouth off. I opologise, but the fact still stands that we have sprinklers in server rooms and self-contained fire systems. I forgot to get pics today, but that's pointless now. Point to be made - it's better to drown some equipment than to lose the entire building and lives.

Oh, and there IS one halon system left that someone told me about in an old building we rarely ever visit.

And back to the topic - I pushed a button today that nobody knew what it did. I'm still waiting for something to happen!!!

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Last edited by DIYtestdummy; 11-03-2009 at 03:06 PM.
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