Fire + Rack


Most modern warehouses are equipped with fire detection, firefighting and fire suppression systems. These systems can substantially affect rack design and installation. The type of fire protection and suppression system will depend on:
• The commodity stored and its environment
• The type of operation
• The overall risk factors
• The type and configuration of rack (aisles, height of stack)
• The packaging

The overall fire protection design needs to be compiled by a competent person (SANS 10400 calls for an ECSA registered professional) in fire engineering. Fire systems design could include:
•Fire detection systems. These devices could detect a fire in its early stages of development by
sensing heat, optical signs of the fire; infra-red or ultra violet, smoke; visible or invisible,
static or sampling models.
• Hand held firefighting equipment; fire extinguishers, fire hose reels and
fire hydrants.
• Automatic fire suppression systems; modern spray mist systems, sprinkler systems, foam or wet agent
systems, gaseous systems.
• Fire building separation elements; Fire walls, fire doors, smoke control curtains, wet fire curtains
and other passive fire protection measures.

Firefighting equipment
Firefighting equipment is often attached to racking. In such cases, appropriate design allowances must be made for hose reels and the water supply to same, extinguisher quantities and positioning.
Safe demarcated non-stack areas should be allowed for to ensure access to this equipment is always available.

Automatic fire suppression systems
Most modern warehouses are fitted with fixed automatic fire suppression systems. Where rack heights are above 2 – 3m, protection of the goods in the racks cannot be safely contained or extinguished by handheld appliances alone. In the case of well-designed modern spray mist systems, no roof protection system will be required over rack areas.
Sprinkler systems could require both roof and in rack protection.
Fire suppression system designs are complex and depend on numerous input factors including the relevant design codes used by the fire engineer and the fuel load and heat release rates of the commodities stored.

Storage systems
The rack designer and the fire engineer should pay attention to details and service co-ordination of pipes and spray devices.
The following are the most common standards used for fire protection designs:
• SANS 10400
• SANS 10139
• NFPA 15
• NFPA 750
• NFPA 13
• NFPA 11
• NFPA 16
• NFPA 20
• NFPA 33
• SANS 10287
• Agrément Certificate

On completion, the fire engineer should certify the project and the fire installations as being compliant with the original rational fire design. Fire protection inspectorates like SAiFP (South African Inspectorate for Fire Protection) are often used for third party inspection reports and certifications.

Bert Everts
Fire Engineers Association of SA