Data Center Fire Statistics

Industrial Fire
Apr 12,2024

Data centers are vital to our digital ecosystem, and while the Uptime Institute acknowledges that fire incidents are rare, their impact can be devastating.

For instance, consider the recent fire at a Kakao data center in South Korea. The company is facing the possibility of losing billions and incurring increased costs during recovery.

As you can see, though such incidents are rare, the problems they can cause are significant. For these reasons, we have collected all the important statistics on fire incidents in data centers. This way, you can make a data-driven decision when safeguarding your data center.

Data Center Fire Key Statistics

In the span from June 2003 to March 2021, a duration of 18 years, Data Center Dynamics identified a total of 31 fire incidents in data centers.

Source: Data Center Dynamics

Based on the provided image:

  • A majority, being 65 percent or 20 incidents, were verified as actual fires.
  • About 23 percent, or 7 events, were reported as fires but lacked verification.
  • New data centers still under construction accounted for 6 percent or 2 incidents.
  • In one instance, making up 3 percent, construction dust triggered the fire suppression system in an operational data center.
  • Another single event, also at 3 percent, involved a disruption caused by testing of the fire suppression system.

These figures suggest an annual average of approximately 1.5 significant fire incidents at data centers.

Main Causes of Data Center Fires 

While specific research on data center fire causes is lacking, we can reference general workplace fire data from the Office of Fire Marshal and Emergency Management.

Source: All Protect

Notably, ‘heating and cooling’ and ‘wiring’ are common ignition sources. Given their extensive use in data centers, these factors are assumed to be significant contributors to fires in such facilities.

Data Center Fires Vs Downtime 

Though the impact of data center fires can be significant when they do occur, the frequency of such events as a cause of outages is relatively low. In fact, data center fires are not among the most common reasons for downtime.

Source: Upwork Intelligence

The statistics between 2020 and 2022 reveal that fires were responsible for an average of only 3% of all data center outages. Encouragingly, this figure has halved since 2020, indicating an improvement in fire prevention and safety measures within these critical facilities.

Top Way to Protect Against Data Center Fire Risks 

According to research conducted by the Uptime Institute, the best practices to avert and safeguard against data center fires include:

  • Detection: Use VESDA systems for early smoke detection.
  • Suppression: Install fire barriers and maintain fire suppression systems.
  • Mitigation: Conduct regular risk assessments to address vulnerabilities.

Conclusion

In conclusion, while data center fires are relatively rare, their potential impact cannot be underestimated.

Data centers are the backbone of our modern digital infrastructure, and as such, it is imperative that they implement comprehensive fire prevention, detection, and suppression strategies to mitigate risks. 

About the Author

Industrial Fire

We are a family-owned and operated business. Industrial Fire has proudly served Houston, Texas, for over seven decades. Fire protection technology has changed a lot since we started doing business in 1945. Still, one thing hasn’t changed, our commitment to providing our neighbors in Houston, TX, with the best fire protection services and equipment available.