News Column

Surge protector causes fire at Ellsworth banking center

June 9, 2014

By Bill Trotter, Bangor Daily News, Maine



June 09--ELLSWORTH, Maine -- A fire Sunday morning in the computer room of a banking operations center caused minimal damage and no interruption of services, according to officials.

The fire was reported around 10:40 a.m. Sunday at 11 Avery Lane, where Bar Harbor Bank & Trust has an operations center. Smoke and fire alarms alerted the fire department that something was amiss, but suppression systems in the building already had extinguished the flames by the time the fire department arrived.

Richard Tupper, chief of the Ellsworth Fire Department, said Monday that the fire originated in a built-in surge protector in the main circuit breaker in the computer room.

He said digital data centers such as the one on Avery Lane often are equipped with "cleaning agents" that displace oxygen from the air in a space where fire or smoke alarms may detect a possible fire. He said these kinds of fire suppression systems do not cause damage to computer equipment when activated.

"They are specifically designed for that application," Tupper said.

Banks and hospitals and other facilities that maintain large amounts of digital data on servers on-site often have such fire suppression systems, he said.

Cathy Planchart, spokeswoman for the bank, said Monday that the small fire had no effect whatsoever on customer service. Staffers who were working at the facility when the fire was discovered made sure it was out before the fire department arrived, she said.

Planchart said the operations center went to battery power for about 30 minutes after the brief fire occurred but then resumed operations as normal.

"The fire did not impact customers at all," she said. "All systems worked as usual."

Tupper said responding firefighters confirmed that the fire was out and then stayed for several more minutes as they assisted bank staff with ventilating the building.

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(c)2014 the Bangor Daily News (Bangor, Maine)

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Source: Bangor Daily News (ME)


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