Fireprotection for Grainger’s Newly Constructed Louisville Distribution Center

In 2017, W.W. Grainger – a Fortune 500 industrial supply company – expanded their operations to the Midwest, and selected Louisville, KY, a major logistics hub, as the location for their new $273 million distribution center. The new distribution center, which opened in 2020, is one of only 34 facilities worldwide that Grainger relies on for supply and delivery of their 1.6 million industrial products.

W.W. Grainger knew they needed a reputable contractor with enough resources to handle the installation of a fire protection system in a 1.5-million square foot building. Our reputation, track record of major industrial projects, and local on-site team made Ryan Fireprotection the perfect fit for this installation.

Project Features

The first phase of the fire sprinkler system installation began in mid-2017. Ryan Fireprotection worked closely with FM Global, Grainger’s insurance company that specializes in loss prevention services for larger corporations, to install and approve 42 sprinkler systems throughout the warehouse. This included a 50,000-square-foot office as well as several administrative “bump outs” surrounding the warehouse floor.

Grainger’s fire sprinkler system is comprised of a 2,500 GPM fire pump, 19,000 sprinklers, and over 30 miles of branch line piping, which was fabricated in-house at Ryan Fireprotection’s Louisville location and delivered to the construction site. Ceiling-mounted K25 ESFR (Early Suppression, Fast Response) sprinklers were installed throughout the building. These sprinklers are often used in place of in-rack systems for the protection of high-piled storage, because they provide high-volume output needed to cover a large vertical area such as in a warehouse.

The IT area of the 2-story office included a double interlock pre-action system, meaning both fire detection and automatic sprinkler operation must occur before water runs into the system. This type of system is often used in information sensitive environments, in order to minimize damage in the event of an unintentional activation.

In the addition to the distribution centers’ sprinkler system, Ryan Fireprotection provided Grainger with 700 fire extinguishers which were placed throughout the 1.5-million square foot building. These fire extinguishers provide a first line of defense and are crucial in protection during the early stages of a fire.

Project Challenges and Solutions

To ensure project completion by the distribution center’s opening in 2020, very aggressive deadlines were put into place. Our team’s expertise in handling large-scale projects allowed for a smoother process to meet these designated targets. Weekly meetings were set with both Grainger and Pepper Construction, with whom Ryan has worked with on other local Louisville projects, to help coordinate delivery dates and ensure proper manpower was in place to complete the project on time.

Continuing the Project

The second phase of the project began in August 2018 and included the installation of 28,000 sprinklers on the warehouse’s 3 levels, including several mezzanines, racking, pick modules, and conveyors. This phase was equally as demanding as Phase 1, as Ryan Fireprotection had to work with multiple equipment installers on appropriate timing to install each part of the fire system. Following final installation, Ryan Fireprotection trained the building owners and facility managers on how to keep the sprinkler systems operational and effective.

Visit our Industry page for more information on other recent large-scale industrial projects. You can also request a quote on your next fire sprinkler installation project or any upcoming inspection and testing needs.