A fire-safe warehouse: where do things usually go wrong?
Keeping your buildings fireproof: we all know it’s vital but that doesn’t make it easy. Storage areas, in particular, with hundreds of products all kept together, involve hidden obstacles that make your building vulnerable to a fire. And the most obvious rules are broken with striking frequency. We have listed four of them for you, so you will always be one spark ahead of the fire.
1. Provide flue spaces
Flue spaces are free distances between your stacked goods. In the event of a fire, smoke can escape through them, which is why they are also called 'chimneys'. The free spaces (ideally around 15 cm) should be found both cross-wise and lengthways between your products. The vertical flue spaces ensure that heat and smoke reach the ceiling sprinklers more quickly in the event of a fire, while the horizontal ones slow down the spread of fire within the rack. Flue spaces also ensure that the water from the sprinklers can flow easily through the racks. If sufficient water cannot reach the burning material on the bottom row, the fire is less likely to be brought under control.
2. Ensure sprinklers are unobstructed
If you want your sprinkler system to work properly (and believe us, you do), it must not be obstructed in any way. Does that make sense? Sure it does, but you still might want to check your banners, billboards, lighting fixtures or technical installations. Are there any obstructions that you cannot get around? In that case, provide additional sprinklers under the obstacles. You must also never hang objects from the sprinkler pipes. Are there any attached cables, fittings or anything else? If so, remove them immediately and centre them between the sprinkler branches: this keeps the system working at all times. Make sure that all the components of your sprinkler system are set up and accessible without any obstruction.
3. Respect the compartmentalisation
Your building is divided into compartments to reduce the risk of fire. If a fire starts in one compartment, the rest of the building can be spared (for a longer period) from smoke development and the spread of the fire. The various fire compartments are separated from each other by fire-resistant doors and walls, but of course the compartment openings (such as a doorway or a duct) are weak spots. It is therefore important that you pay sufficient attention to sealing your compartments. In practice, fire doors are often left open when they are located in a busy corridor, for example. Convenient perhaps, but extremely unwise. To avoid this type of situation, you may want to provide automatically closing fire doors.
4. Maintain the right clearances
Clearances are the distances between the deflector plate of your sprinklers and the top of your stacked goods. If you stack the goods too high, the operation of your installation is compromised. However, too great a distance between the goods and the sprinklers is also a bad idea. Is there a gap of more than four metres between the top of the goods and the sprinklers? Then it is best to install an IRAS sprinkler or increase the sprinkler density to keep it safe.
More advice on how to make your warehouse fire-safe? In our white paper you can read everything you need to know.