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Apr 19, 2021

This week’s episode focuses on codes involving high-piled storage. With such a broad topic, we are using this episode to break down what the international building and fire codes say about storing combustibles. We also explore common fire and life safety components when high-piled combustibles are present. If you are interested in more content on this topic, check out



Hello. Welcome to the solo cast of fire code tech in these episodes. It's just gonna be me, your host, Gus Gagliardi. There's gonna be a range of topics, but I'm gonna talk about like specific technologies, installation standards, codes, and how they work as well as some other interesting topics that don't neatly fit inside of the context of a normal interview.

Welcome to episode five of the solo cast fire code. In this episode, we're gonna be talking about high pod storage. And so the first excerpt of code or standard I wanna take a look at is the international fire code more specifically, chapter 30, two of the 2015 version of the international fire code. So in chapter 32, I wanna look at section 32 0 1 0.1 scope.

High pile combustible storage shall be in accordance with this chapter. In addition to the requirements of this chapter, the following material specific requirements apply aerosols in accordance with chapter 51 flammable in combustible materials shall be in accordance with chapter 57 hazardous materials in accordance with chapter 50 record storage in accordance with NFPA 13.

storage of combustible fibers in accordance with chapter 37 of the international fire code in general, storage of combustible material shall be in accordance with chapter three. So why do I wanna talk about high powered storage? High powered storage is something that is, um, usually misunderstood. Uh, it's often to.

Um, not utilized correctly in existing facilities or in new facilities. I had a job one time where the owner was like, oh, I don't know, uh, if we have HPO combustible storage. Um, and so they were like, you know, we wanna stack, um, miscellaneous combustibles and, you know, tires and some other hazardous materials and up to 20 plus feet.

And so, uh, for those who know anything about, or for those who are aware of the thresholds for high pod storage, this is immediately alarming because, um, we'll get into the specifics about it, but that's well over the code required threshold for the provisions of high pod storage. So what does the fire code delineate these extra chapters, um, as compared to chapter 3, 2 32 for high cloud storage.

So if there are hazardous materials or high hazard materials, there are other sections of the fire code in the building code that you need to look into. And these are above and beyond the requirements of high pilot storage. But if you have more standard commodities, Of classes one through four or plastics of category a through C, then you are more likely to be in a case where you will deal with the traditional hypo pod storage.

So I won't talk about hazardous materials in this episode, because as I've already mentioned, I think I'm gonna do a series of episodes over hazardous materials, but in order to explore high powered storage, um, in more. Let's start at the beginning in chapter two of the international fire code, which has definitions, which will illustrate when you need to deal with the requirements and the extra associated.

Life and fire safety, um, implications of high piled storage. So in chapter two, there's a definition for high piled storage or high pile combustible storage. And it says storage of combustible materials in closely packed piles or combustible materials on pallets. In racks or on shelves, where on top of storage is greater than 12 feet in height we're required by the fire code official high peed combustible storage also includes certain high hazard commodities, such as rubber tires, group, a plastics, flammable liquids, idle, pallets, and similar commod.

Where the top of storage is greater than six feet. So let's talk about that a little bit. So the code excerpt says standard combustibles, 12 feet, where the top of the storage is greater than 12 feet. So this is not where the greatest, the height of the greatest shelf is it, you know, has to be over 12 feet.

No, the combustibles stacked on the shelving exceeds 12 feet. And so. Um, once again, remember that we're dealing with how you approach high piled storage in the United States and in, you know, go back and check out the codes and standards episode. If you're unclear on how to determine the applicable codes and standards for your.

And then, uh, furthermore, on that subject, high hazard materials, think of these as hazardous materials, tires, um, more dense storage than usual. And so these have a threshold of six feet. So if you're stacking tires, it's not apples to apples, to, um, general engine parts or something. That's fairly non combustible.

Um, or even that's most plastics for that matter matter or a lot of plastics for that matter. So I wanted to talk a little bit about storage configuration. So there's probably, uh, a really huge number of different ways that you can store commodities. Um, off the top of my head there's bin box palletized, um, solid pile.

Uh, racks and double row racks back to back to back racks, multiple row racks, uh, rollback racks, and so, and, uh, variations of all these in combination. So that plays a big part into protection of. Commodity. So what do these look like? Bin box is, uh, metal boxes with, um, basically metal on five sides. Uh, you know, everything, but the top side, um, shelves is self explanatory rack storages.

What you would think of in your, um, big box stores like Lowe's and Sams and Costco. and so, um, there's different protection requirements for each of these storage configurations. And where you would go to look at specific criteria for protecting these storage. Configurations is in N FPA 13. So to dive a little bit more into the requirements of the international fire code table 32 0 6 0.2 general fire protection and life safety requirements.

This table is in more, um, detailed approach to what specific features are required. Your hypo storage based on the commodity type and the, um, size of the hypo storage. So there are requirements in this section for detection, smoke and heat, and, uh, building access that's access for the fire service around the entire expense of the building.

And um, uh, automatic fire extinguishing system. So that's a little broader than I thought I would be. Um, it's basically referring to sprinklers, but it appears they leave it open ended in case you have an alternative means of fire suppression. And so there are basically requirements in this document for.

Size is ranging from 500 square feet to 500,000 square feet or greater. And so also this ties back into a cubic foot amount of high pod storage. Let's talk about why that we have these extra implications for fire and life safety for high pile storage. Well, the obvious answer is, is that there is more combustibles which can lead to fires that can have a more significant impact for fire and life safety, much quicker.

Statistics data from NFPA study says that from 2014 to 2018 and estimated 1400 warehouse structure fires per year were reported to the us fire departments. These fires caused an annual average of two civilian deaths, 20 civilian injuries and 159 million indirect property damage. So probably one of the biggest implications of high powered storage.

The increased, uh, demand in the fire suppression system. So this often, uh, if you get into instances with significant high pile storage, I'm talking about in excess of 2025, um, I've seen instances in design for cases up to about 40 feet, which is pretty significant. We talked with Francis. In episode 23, I think she was talking about how she has been over facilities that had storage in excess of a hundred feet.

So I think that's, uh, pretty, I can't even imagine what that looks like, but yeah, so. As the height goes up, the fire suppression demand, um, in correlation goes up. So you have to start looking at storage specific sprinklers. And I wanna do a video breaking down NFPA 13 and what it has to say on high Powell storage.

This episode, I'm focusing a little bit more on the codes and standards of the basis. Um, so a big part of storage. And, you know, kind of tackling it or understanding the challenge from a design perspective is commodity classification. This is a pretty big topic. And so a high level overview is, um, take a view of the building and the, you know, what kind of functions are happening in the building.

And then establish the commodity types. So there's class one through four commodities class, a B, and C plastics. Um, and then you have to take a look at the configuration. Like we talked before, solid pile, um, rack storage bin box. Uh, I didn't touch on, but it came to my mind and, uh, in editing was. Um, the mobile storage configurations or high density, um, mobile storage configurations.

So, um, automated storage is becoming a much bigger topic. So this also plays into a part of, uh, kind of establishing the hazard and establishing the protection criteria. That's gonna be it for this first episode on codes surrounding high pallet storage. There is still a lot that I didn't get to cover here and more that I want to dive into.

As far as the codes, um, implications for design involving high pallet storage, uh, storage, sprinklers, uh, NFPA 13, and what it has to say. High piled storage areas and, um, protection measures. So stay tuned and I will be sure to release more content on high piled storage. If there's something that you're interested in.

Also, if you'd like there's another bonus episode on high piled storage on Patreon, go check it out at code. Hot throw a link down in the show notes. Thanks for listening, everybody. Be sure to share the episode with a friend, if you enjoyed it, don't forget that fire protection and life safety is serious business.

The views and opinions expressed on this podcast are by no means a professional consultation or a codes end standards interpretation. Be sure to contact a licensed professional. If you are getting involved with fire protection and or life. Thanks again, and we'll see you next time.