Something to Ponder: You're the CIO and have made capital investments exceeding $1M to assure availability and business continuity. You've built a monument to fault tolerance. You overlooked the simple things, though, and you're standing in front of the CEO attempting to explain why none of your systems are available because the local fire marshal closed down your data center for local fire and safety code violations.
Yes, it can (and does) happen. Why? Facilities are taken for granted, and in many cases the IT people running the data center do not consult with the facilities professionals before making changes, bringing in more hardware and taking it upon themselves to determine where new hardware goes.
Too many CIOs and IT managers who are dimly aware of the problem plan around it. This misses the point for two reasons: (1) it's reactive, which is less desirable than proactive, and (2) planning around a potential problem costs money. Why squander more shareholder value devising elaborate and expensive contingency plans, when vigilant internal inspections and a close working relationship with your company's facilities professionals cost much less and is proactive? See my point?
If you are not familiar with the issues and factors I strongly encourage you to visit Mission Critical Facilities, which is a site that lives up to its title. The tools and resources provided by this valuable site include a site selection tool, an interactive design flowchart (Linda and I used this a few years back when developing facilities management policies and procedures for a CLEC), and RA/Quick Test, which is a freeware program for Windows 9x that automates the reliability analysis methods described in the site's technical articles. You can use this tool to estimate and compare facility designs from a cost/reliability perspective.
If you've outsourced all or part of your facilities to an ISP, MSP or other facility I sincerely hope that your contract terms and conditions included a requirement for your vendor to maintain their facilities in accordance with all federal, state and local codes.