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Hile Piled Storage Warehouses

Are you an owner looking to build a warehouse? Better plan for a fire sprinkler system if you are going to store combustible materials greater than 12-feet in height.

Per Chapter 23 of the International Fire Code “High Piled Storage” is defined in IFC 2302 as:
“Storage of combustible materials in closely packed piles or combustible materials on pallets, in racks or on shelves where the top of storage is greater than 12 feet (3658 mm) in height.” When required by the fire code official, high-piled combustible storage also includes certain high-hazard commodities, such as rubber tires, Group A plastics, flammable liquids, idle pallets and similar commodities, where the top of storage is greater than 6 feet (1829 mm) in height.
Minimum Submittal Requirements
At minimum the design professional's permit submittal must include the following per IFC 105.6:

  • Floor plan of the building showing locations and dimensions of high-piled storage areas.
  • Usable storage height for each storage area.
  • Number of tiers within each rack, if applicable.
  • Commodity clearance between top of storage and the sprinkler deflector for each storage arrangement.
  • Aisle dimensions between each storage array.
  • Maximum pile volume for each storage array.
  • Location and classification of commodities in accordance with Section 2303.
  • Location of commodities which are banded or encapsulated.
  • Location of required fire department access doors.
  • Type of fire suppression and fire detection systems.
  • Location of valves controlling the water supply of ceiling and in-rack sprinklers.
  • Type, location and specifications of smoke removal and curtain board systems.
  • Dimension and location of transverse and longitudinal flue spaces.
  • Additional information regarding required design features, commodities, storage arrangement and fire protection features within the high-piled storage area shall be provided at the time of submittal
Fire Sprinkler Requirements
While it is not possible for us to cover all the requirements and storage configurations in this discussion, let's hit on how you can get more competitive bids from fire sprinkler contractors.  The key item is to have a design professional specify the design criteria for the building.  You would get a wide variety of costs if you just asked for a "fully sprinklered" building.  Some commonly overlooked but expensive things that get overlook are as follows:

  1. Is the roof pitch greater than 2:12?  If so there is no design criteria for protecting the building as no fire tests have been conducted with a pitched ceiling.
  2. Do you utilize plastic pallets? This additional plastic material automatically kicks the commodity classification up a category.
  3. Do you have solid shelving in the racks? Fire sprinkler systems require less water/density when the water can penetrate down the rack.
  4. Do you need Fire Hose Stations? It is possible to negotiate out the need for these if you have fire hydrants adequately spaced around the warehouse.
  5. Do you need Smoke Vents?

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