Definitively Not( James )


Oh no! OVH had a small datacenter fire which affected their SBG datacenter. This is not that uncommon of a problem for a datacenter. That’s why you should always have a Disaster Recovery Plan if your data is invaluable - beyond reliance on fire suppression systems.

Fire suppression in datacenters pose an interesting problem. When you have so many things that can’t get wet and are incredibly expensive to replace you can’t use sprinklers, and any residue could be heavily damaging to the equipment as well.

Bromotrifluoromethane, or Halon, was developed in the 1950s as a gaseous fire suppression agent for use with valuable materials - such as computers and telecommunications systems. In the mid-90s we stopped using Halon because it is incredibly damaging to the ozone layer and contributes considerably towards global warming. However much damage it causes to the planet, it’s relatively safe for humans. While Halon may cause dizziness and tingling in the extremities at the low amounts it may be effective at, it is relatively safe to be used in close quarters. This is why even now the FAA reccommends it for aircraft!

HFC-227ea is another gaseous fire suppression agent used in data centers. Generally, this is safe for humans at up to 9% concentration, which is the maximum most fire suppression systems would use. It doesn’t deplete the ozone layer but does contribute to climate change in other ways. At incredibly high heat, however, it does decompose into hydrogen fluoride - which can cause blindness and creates hydrofluoric acid on contact with moisture.

Most fire suppression systems have an alarm before they go off and may be manually prevented. If you’re interested, there’s a simulation video video which has some obnoxious music but is otherwise accurate. I’ve been part of this before in a data center, and it’s not a fun time. I was not inside when the fire suppression activated, thankfully!

Of course, not much of this matters once the datacenter gets to the point SGB2 just did. Don’t worry, though! That data center is still green across the board according to its status page!