Protecting 21st Century Storage Spaces
NFPA Journal®, March/April 2009
The Fire Protection Research Foundation will pursue research into new protection strategies for large storage occupancies. In the meantime, building owners, fire marshals, and the fire service need to make the fire protection plans for such structures as up-to-date as possible. Areas of consideration include:
Detection The ability to detect and manage a fire as early as possible is key, as is the ability to identify three-dimensionally the fire’s location and the extent of its spread. The fire protection plan should specifically address the warehouse’s storage racks, including methods for keeping the automatic storage and retrieval system in service during a fire to allow for the removal of inventory to help isolate a fire. Any new technology for sensor-rich environments to identify the extent of the fire’s spread should also be explored.
Suppression Designers of fire protection systems should be open to any new methods of extending suppression mode sprinklers to greater storage heights and using them with extinguishment—not just containment—in mind. They should also be open to new building designs and building materials currently being researched and should champion the idea of minimizing the use of combustible packaging.
Codes and standards Get involved in the NFPA codes- and standards-development process. Learn as much as possible about NFPA 13, Installation of Sprinkler Systems; NFPA 13E, Recommended Practice for Fire Department Operations in Properties Protected by Sprinkler and Standpipe Systems; NFPA 72®, National Fire Alarm Code®; and NFPA 1620, Recommended Practice for Pre-Incident Planning.
Pay close attention to the next iteration of NFPA 1620. The 2010 edition will be upgraded from a recommended practice to a standard and will contain enforceable language, says David Trebisacci, senior fire protection specialist for Public Fire Protection and staff liaison for NFPA 1620.
Source: Zurich Services Corp.