Fire Safety in Warehouses-part1
This guideline concerns storage premises, both large and small. The measures concern not only owners, tenants and staff who administer and operate warehouses, but also the local population who may be affected by a serious fire in their immediate neighborhood. It is intended that the contents will help to prevent fires from occurring and minimize the impact of any incident that does take place.
The proposals on which this guideline is based were produced by The UK Fire Protection Association and the author was Adair Lewis.
The Guideline has been compiled by the Guidelines Commission and adopted by all fire protection associations in the Confederation of Fire Protection Associations Europe.
These guidelines reflect best practice developed by the countries of CFPA Europe. Where the guidelines and national requirements conflict, national requirements must take precedence.
Warehouse accommodation considered in this document includes commercial storage buildings on manufacturing sites and business parks but does not extend to retail warehouses which are routinely visited by members of the public or to premises designed to be let in small areas for the storage of personal effects.
Additional hazards may be associated with specialist warehouses, such as automated high bay warehouses, cold stores, and premises used primarily for the storage of chemicals and other hazardous materials, and these are not specifically addressed in this document. Additional guidance should be sought regarding these premises, in addition to the material set out in this document.
Details of styles and construction of racking are outside the scope of this publication.
Over the past few years the number and size of warehouses has increased dramatically, especially in locations on key transport hubs or adjacent to motorway junctions. The materials stored in these facilities range from small electronic items to books, CDs and engineering products. The number and wide variety of items of stock, activities which may be undertaken (for example heated shrink wrapping and charging of electric vehicles) and the associated numbers of vehicle movements present numerous opportunities for incidents to occur in the absence of a rigorous fire safety management regime.
Whilst the incidence of fires in warehouses is generally low, the size of the buildings and the volumes of combustible material stored results in many of the fires becoming major conflagrations which pose challenges for fire and rescue services and result in significant property losses and disruption to business continuity.
A detailed fire risk assessment to take account of property protection, as well as life safety, in accordance with national fire safety legislation is a key element of an effective fire safety strategy. In some cases an assessment in compliance with the ATEX Directive (ref 1) will also need to be undertaken.
These assessments will identify the fire hazards and the potential for property and business interruption losses and lead to the preparation of an effective risk control programme for the premises. The assessment should consider the structure of the building and the flammability of the products stored both within and outside the premises. Vigilance with regard to deliberate fire setting must also be maintained, with arson prevention also being an important part of the assessment.
It should be recognised that in many warehouses the products stored and the mode of storage, together with the associated fire hazards, may change over remarkably short periods of time and thus the fire risk assessment process will need to be an ongoing activity with frequent reviews. This will ensure that any alterations to the overall fire risk are correctly identified so that the fire safety strategy may be modified as necessary.
Particular attention will need to be given to effectively manage potentially hazardous activities that are carried out in existing warehouses, such as those relating to hot work, shrink wrapping and the charging of electric vehicles.
These recommendations set out in this document are intended to address life and property protection in the event of fire in warehouses and storage premises.
Warehouses referred to in this document include commercial storage buildings on manufacturing sites and business parks but do not extend to retail warehouses which are routinely visited by members of the public or to premises designed to be let in small areas for the storage of personal effects.
Additional hazards associated with specialist warehouses, such as automated high bay warehouses, cold stores, and premises used primarily for the storage of chemicals and other hazardous materials, are not specifically addressed in this Guideline. Additional guidance should be sought regarding these specialist storage premises, in addition to the material set out in this document.
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