Storage Protection and Horizontal Barriers

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There is limited guidance related to storage protection and horizontal barriers in NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems. In addition, the terms horizontal barrier and shelves are both used in NFPA 13 with differing protection strategies. For example, one form of alternate  protection in NFPA 13 is to provide a solid horizontal barrier and provide sprinklers around the  perimeter of the barrier, including face sprinklers. On the other hand, the shelf requirements do not  require face sprinklers. Another potential issue is that shelves larger than 64 square feet require  sprinklers under each shelf, but there is no limit to tiers of storage under each shelf.      

There is a need to holistically review the requirements in NFPA 13 relating to horizontal barriers and  shelves and the basis behind them as well as existing test data, and then recommend gaps and  remaining research needs on this topic. With the increasing height of warehouses, there is a benefit to  considering protection schemes that use horizontal barriers to stop vertical spread.      

Research goal: The overall goal is to develop guidance on the types and configurations of horizontal  barriers that stop vertical fire spread and allow for independent flow calculation between the ceiling and  the barrier level to provide technical basis for possible protection strategies in NFPA 13. The goal of this  project is to identify the knowledge gaps related to storage protection and horizontal barriers.

Download the project summary. (PDF)