Marina and Boatyard Indoor Rack Storage Sprinkler Protection Literature and Data Review

Fire Protection Research Foundation report: "Marina and Boatyard Indoor Rack Storage Sprinkler Protection" (PDF, 2 MB)
Author: Daniel J. O'Connor, PE, Thomas Gardner, PE, Schirmer Engineering Corporation and Gregory T. Davis, CFEI, Eric Greene, Davis & Company
Date of issue: December 2008 


Indoor rack storage is desired by boat owners and marinas to protect vessels from weather and extreme temperatures. A major concern is protection of the boats and the storage structure from fire. The nature of the boat construction materials results in a potentially high fire load, and the storage configuration can present significant challenges to activation and water distribution patterns of automatic sprinkler systems.

Specific criterion for the design and installation of fire protection for boats stored on racks inside of buildings is currently lacking. NFPA 303, Fire Protection Standard for Marinas and Boatyards requires that automatic sprinklers systems comply with the provisions of Chapter 12 of NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems for Group “A” Plastics. However, NFPA 13 does not specifically address indoor rack storage of boats. Fire test data of boats in rack storage is needed to establish more specific requirements for fire control and protection of this type of vessel storage.

This project recognizes and addresses this problem by providing a literature review, documenting loss history, and carrying out a hazard analysis of fires involving indoor rack storage of marine vessels in boatyards and marinas. The information helps to clarify additional research needs that, if addressed in a subsequent research project and ultimately completed, would establish important design parameters such as water demand, automatic sprinkler placement and other essential design requirements for the control and extinguishment of unwanted fires. The results this study, and such a follow-up research project, are of direct interest to the Technical Committees responsible for NFPA 303, Fire Protection Standard for Marinas and Boatyards and NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems.

The Research Foundation expresses gratitude to the report authors Daniel J. O'Connor, PE and Thomas Gardner, PE of Schirmer Engineering, and Gregory T. Davis, CFEI and Eric Greene of Davis & Company. In addition, the Research Foundation appreciates the guidance provided by the Project Technical Panelist, and all others that contributed to this research effort. Special thanks are expressed to National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) for providing the funding for this project.

The content, opinions and conclusions contained in this report are solely those of the author.