Fire Detection in Warehouse Facilities

Fire Protection Research Foundation report: "Fire Detection in Warehouse Facilities - Final Phase I report" (PDF)
Author: Daniel T. Gottuck, Ph.D. and Joshua Dinaburg, Hughes Associates, Inc., Baltimore, MD
Date of issue: January 2012


Automatic sprinklers are the traditional fire protection system in warehouses; their major purpose is to control and suppress fire. However, with an increase in warehouse sizes, limitations in watersupply and changes in firefighting strategies by fire departments, the effectiveness of currentsprinkler protection strategies for warehouses has been questioned. In 2009 and 2010, the Fire Protection Research Foundation conducted two workshops to address fire safety concerns in modern warehouses, which involved warehouse users, insurance companies, fire engineering firms, researchers, fire protection system manufacturers, and code and standard writers1,2. At these workshops, the application of fire detection for early fire warning, fire location identification and monitoring in warehouses was explored, as were the potential benefits of quicker response of suppression systems, reducing water supply requirements, and minimizing the involvement of fire departments. However, currently there is little research available or guidance on the utilization of fire detection technologies of various types in warehouse environments.

Accordingly, the Fire Protection Research Foundation initiated this project with an overall goal to provide technical information for the development of guidelines and standards for applying fire detection technologies for modern warehouse protection. The objective of this first Phase program was to assess the potential role for detection systems in this environment and develop a proposed research plan to implement the goal.

The Research Foundation expresses gratitude to the report authors Daniel Gottuk, Ph.D., and Joshua Dinaburg, who are with Hughes Associates, Inc located in Baltimore, Maryland. The Research Foundation appreciates the guidance provided by the Project Technical Panelists, the funding provided by the project sponsors, and all others that contributed to this research effort. The content, opinions and conclusions contained in this report are solely those of the author.

1 Fire Protection Research Foundation, “Storage Fixed Fire Protection and Final Extinguishment,” Core Planning Meeting, Sheraton Braintree, MA, USA, January 2009.
2 Gallagher, R. and Gollner, M., “High Challenge Warehouse Case Study – Summary,” Warehouse Workshop, NFPA’s Fire Protection Research Foundation, Orlando, FL, USA, Feb 2010.