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How to Effectively Integrate Sprinkler Systems into your Warehouse Design

One in five warehouses in England and Wales will have a fire at some point in its lifetime. Not only does this provide a risk in terms of danger to human life, it can also have a huge financial impact due to loss of property, stock, and an interruption to processes. The single largest cause of warehouse fires is defective electrical installations or equipment. The most effective way to protect your property is by fitting an automatic sprinkler system, with the systems controlling 97-99% of fires. When designing your warehouse, it is important to consider the integration of sprinkler systems within your space, and ensure they are positioned to enable their effective operation.

Depending on your inventory, and how it is stored, depends on your sprinkler system design requirements. The first consideration to make is to determine what class of commodity you work with. Mis-classifying your commodity is both an expensive, and critically dangerous mistake. Different commodity classes have different levels of flammability or combustibility and thus require different responses. For example, class I commodities pose a low risk for fire hazard and thus require less extensive planning for than class IV commodities which are higher-risk products, often with a high percentage of plastic packaging.

A fire sprinkler system is a network of fixed pipes fitted with sprinkler heads at regular intervals. In a simple wet pipe system these heads direct a jet of water onto deflector plates which diffuses over a large area. The water is held back by a glass bulb and when the necessary heat is applied to the bulb by a fire, the bulb bursts, releasing a flow of water. This also means the release of water is contained within the affected area, rather than flooding the entire warehouse.

ESFR, or Early Suppression Fast Response, Sprinklers are a type of wet sprinkler that is used in areas with high piled storage. Their response is triggered at a lower temperature, and they release more water, so they are ideal for higher and more dense storage areas.

Both of these wet sprinkler systems can only be used in ambient conditions, as in a cold storage warehouse you risk the water freezing in its pipes.

Quell sprinklers are an increasingly popular solution, using high-pressure mist instead of water. These are ideal in a warehouse where water would significantly damage products, or in a cold storage environment as there is no water stored in the pipes.

Deluge sprinklers are a system often utilised in warehouses with high-hazard materials as they deploy a massive supply of water at once. The pipes are empty but pressurised with nitrogen so it is fast acting, and there is no risk of pipes freezing.

Sprinkler heads can be placed in enclosed roof spaces or floor ducts to protect hidden areas. They are often placed along ceilings, and in a large warehouse they may also be placed within storage racks. An In-Rack sprinkler system provides a good option for warehouses as it stops the spread of a fire before it reaches outside its racking group.

When designing your warehouse, it is important to consider the type, style, and location of the sprinkler system you choose. This is significant not only in terms of protecting your warehouse from fire, but also minimising damage to products by water.

Here at DC Space and Storage Solutions, we offer a bespoke warehouse design and consultancy service in order to help kit your warehouse out as effectively as possible, this includes the consideration of sprinkler systems. Get in touch today to ensure the safety of your warehouse!

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