Every owner wants to protect his/her business to ensure continued, uninterrupted operations. Depending on the type of business this can include a positive working environment as well as emergency management plans to protect employees, customers, products, and buildings. Different industries require different safety precautions. When your business deals primarily with information and data, your emergency management plans take on a different role, particularly when it comes to fire safety.
Once upon a time, data and information was stored in file rooms and archives. You may have had so much data and information that many of these files were stored in an alternate location, and even converted to other space-saving technologies (e.g. microfilm and microfiche). Your standard fire safety protocols sufficed.
But now, computers are the storage devices of the day. Many old files are digitized, and many businesses collect massive amounts of data. Some businesses have data storage on computers, servers, and back-up servers, on-site as well as at alternative locations. Collectively these are known as data centers.
Data and information have different physical safety requirements. While many business owners are very diligent in preventing data breaches, they are often at odds with facilities management in regards to the physical safety of their equipment and therefore data.
Data and information protection have three key components that business owners must consider in order to meet their business goals:
- information technology (single versus multiple data storage options)
- electrical power
- equipment cooling
These three factors must be considered when developing risk and facilities management plans. At one time the physical equipment was more important to save in a catastrophe, but now the data itself is becoming just as vital.
This creates two separate issues when it comes to fire protection strategies:
preserving the physical equipment
limiting the amount of downtime
But physical damage can come in several guises:
- external fire
- internal smoke
- internal fire
- extinguishing agents
- Building Codes: room and aisle design and layout
- Building Codes: HVAC and air flow
- Building Codes: cable placement
- Fire Detection: thermal imaging, air quality evaluation for contaminants (biological, chemical, or radiological)
- Fire Suppression: sprinkler systems, fire extinguishers, non-traditional fire suppression substances (aerosols and clean agents)
Any business whose primary function relies on data and information needs to consider the physical protection of the equipment and data. The NFPA 75 code specifically addresses data and information protection. While voluntary, conducting a rigorous risk analysis and developing an extensive disaster recovery plan is vital to keep your data and information physically safe and to ensure that your business can continue to operate with minimal disruptions in service.
Contact your local fire inspection service like Pye Barker Fire Safety to determine the best options for keeping your information safe.