When it comes to warehouse fire prevention, not just any sprinkler system will do. As I point out in my Fire Protection Engineering article, “Lessons Learned from Understanding Warehouse Fires,” a facility’s sprinkler design must match the particular fire hazards present in that facility. In the case of warehouse fires, discrepancies between sprinkler designs and potential hazards can result in millions of dollars in total losses.

In a recent column in NFPA Journal, Matt Klaus also underscores the necessity of customizing storage facility sprinkler systems to match the specific hazards of each facility. As Klaus points out, this is particularly important for businesses acquiring new buildings that they’ll be re-purposing to fit their needs.

Klaus reminds his readers that according to NFPA 25, Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems, it’s the owner’s responsibility to ensure that the sprinkler systems in their facilities can adequately contend with potential hazards. Changes in those facilities (especially the kinds of changes that go along with re-purposing a building) often necessitate a reevaluation of the sprinkler system.  Some of these changes include:

  • Commodity classification change
  • Change in storage height
  • Change in clearance to ceiling
  • Change in packaging
  • Addition of solid shelving
  • Change in storage type
  • Change in pallet type

It’s also important for owners to remember that not all fire inspectors are created equal. Some properly enforce fire codes and some don’t. And even if an inspector overlooks a noncompliance issue and that issue results in a fire, the fire is still ultimately the owner’s responsibility.

At Harrington Group, we’re always on top of advances and changes in building and fire codes, fire protection engineering techniques, and fire protection equipment technology. By reviewing inspection, testing, and maintenance records, and by conducting periodic walk-throughs, our highly trained fire protection engineers work to keep our clients and their buildings protected.

By Jeff Harrington, CEO and Founder of Harrington Group, Inc.