Been working around Computer Data Centres for years, and they’re all had VESDA fire detection systems. Until the other day, I never needed to know how they worked. As the fire detection system just worked, and heck, if a fire alarm went off, it was a case of evacuating the floor.
I walked into one of our small data centres, as I wanted to check the safety of a rear emergency exit door. What greeted me was a flashing red beacon. After a couple of quick phone calls, it turns out it was the “VESDA has been isolated” beacon.
The VESDA is simply put, a very cleverly designed smoke detection system. Very Early-warning Smoke Detection Apparatus. Though a grid of pipes, air is drawn over a smoke detection sensor. Should the VESDA detect smoke, it will do something. That something is often to trigger an alarm.
VESDA was mostly an Australian invention, an initial prototype having been developed by the Australian Postmaster-General’s Department in the early 1970’s. You can read a bit more about that here.