Fire protection for warehouses

Published:  21 August, 2015

After three years of research FM Global has released new fire protection guidelines for warehouse owners that it claims could reduce fire-related costs by millions of dollars.

The new engineering-driven design standard for “in-rack” sprinklers offers warehouses more protection at less cost, says FM. “Using current fire protection technology, the solution enables facility owners to use fewer sprinklers and lower-capacity water systems,” said Ronnie Gibson, vice president and chief engineer at FM.

As an example, FM reports that for a 46,450m2 warehouse with an 24m ceiling height, contractor estimates show the cost of installing sprinklers, pumps and water tanks could fall from about US$4.3 million to as little as US$2.6 million.

In the event of a fire FM says that warehouse owners would also likely sustain less water and smoke damage, because the fire would be controlled or suppressed more quickly.

As well as cost savings, FM believes the new design is more environmentally friendly and would allow companies to protect their highest-hazard commodities, such as expanded plastic, using less than half the water volume previously needed. Businesses also may see a smaller environmental impact in smoke and water run-off.

Research for the design included extensive and advanced open-source computer fire modelling, water flow tests and large-scale fire tests at the company’s research campus in Rhode Island. The detailed engineering guideline, Data Sheet 8-9, “Storage of Class 1, 2, 3, 4 and Plastic Commodities,” is available online at FM Global’s website at no cost.

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