Fire protection for high-piled storage occupancies can be a challenge, particularly occupancies with a variety of goods that represent a wide range of flammability. The very nature of the piled goods creates very different combustion characteristics, and subsequently very different fire suppression strategies. Traditional sprinkler systems may not be adequate and options like in-rack systems can become costly and not as adaptable as overhead systems. That is why early suppression,fast response (ESFR) systems are so appealing. They offer the best of both worlds – high suppression capabilities, at potentially lower installation and maintenance costs – all while providing flexibility for the end user of the space.

Early suppression,fast response (ESFR) sprinkler systems are quick to respond and deliver a higher volume of water, making them a strong option for protecting high-piled storage occupancies. While traditional systems are designed to control a fire until the original fuel source is depleted, or until the fire department arrives, ESFR systems are designed to suppress the fire by discharging a large volume of water directly to the fire to reduce the heat release, and ultimately extinguish the fire.

In-rack systems are very effective for high-pile storage applications and depending on the commodity or pile configuration, may be required regardless if other options are present. However in-rack systems could come with a cost. Installation can be expensive and because of their position in the racks they are prone to forklift damage, resulting in frequent repairs. They also greatly inhibit the way the space can be used after installation. In-rack systems are designed for a specific pile arrangement and commodity type. Change either and the system may be ineffective. ESFR systems, on the contrary, allow end users to move racks and goods as needed all while providing adequate protection.

ESFR systems aren’t without their own challenges. In many cases an ESFR system will require a fire pump and an adequate water supply. If the local water supply cannot support a pump, then a water storage tank or a pond fed system are options to consider, albeit at quite an expense. However, if planning for new construction, water supply can be addressed early on with the city to ensure adequate supply thereby avoiding costly alternatives.

High-piled storage occupancies require a targeted fire control solution. Not only should the stored material be evaluated but the height, length and depth of racking needs to be considered as well. There are many factors that contribute to a solution for high-piled storage occupancies, and each possible solution has its pros, cons and cost to consider. Contact Ryan Fireprotection today to help navigate the codes, requirements and costs associated with this investment to ensure the solution meets the needs of users today and tomorrow.