May-June 2023

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 30 of 44

PalletCentral • May-June 2023 29 is one. All these details help meet the needs and requirements of the authority having jurisdiction. Can you elaborate on the spacing of pallets both indoors and outdoors? Koffel: One of the first steps you need to take is to identify the applicable code, such as National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) or the International Fire Code (IFC), because there can be slight differences between them. is is particularly important in the context of the proposals submitted by NWPCA, as we've encouraged code officials to recognize that in recycling and manufacturing facilities, pallets are assets, not just idle items waiting for removal. erefore, perspectives on pallet storage might vary. In the past, restrictions were placed on storage practices, such as the height of the pile and the number of stacks within an array, which may have been based solely on insurance requirements. ese turned out to be quite restrictive and hindered businesses practices. e unique aspect of the NFPA and ICC 2018 (and onward) editions is that we focus on important buildings and property lines. Instead of assigning a specific distance from a property line or building on site, we state that you need to maintain a distance equal to three-quarters of the height of your pallet storage. For instance, if you're storing pallets up to 18 feet high, the separation distance will differ from if you were storing them at 12 feet. NFPA 1, in particular, includes a requirement addressing not just the separation between piles, but the accessibility for first responders to get water to the center of the array of pallets, based on the width between various arrays of pallets. is means you could have a large continuous stack of pallets as long as the fire department can effectively access it. In terms of outdoor storage, these are the main considerations. For indoor storage, requirements depend largely on the sprinkler system protecting your building. Out of four different options, three do not mandate any separation between the piles or arrays. e fourth option requires an 8-foot separation for a specific sprinkler design, referred to as an Ordinary Hazard Group 2, typically used in mercantile occupancy and some industrial occupancies. However, if you have a different sprinkler system, the requirement may change. For example, I recently worked with an NWPCA member who didn't need the 8-foot separation because of their sprinkler design, which the fire marshal approved. In summary, for outdoor storage, ensure separation from property lines and important buildings equivalent to three-quarters of the stack's height. For NFPA, ensure fire department access to the center of the pallet array. For indoor storage, requirements largely depend on your sprinkler system. Does a heat treater require its own fire suppression system? Koffel: From a code perspective, the general answer is "no." e code typically focuses on public safety and welfare, as well as preventing fires from spreading to adjacent buildings. As such, it usually doesn't require sprinklers inside specific pieces of equipment, and I can't think of a standard that mandates a fire suppression system within a heat treater. However, your insurance carrier might have more specific answers. ey may have additional requirements since they are underwriting the potential loss and disruption of business operations. ey could require further protection measures. If a fire suppression system is installed, we would need to ensure it is designed to handle higher temperatures to prevent unintended operation. What is noteworthy in the economics of idle pallets to help anticipate or resolve idle or discarded pallets? Brad Gething: I'd like first to mention that we have a broad audience with us today, including representatives from the pallet industry and the fire code industry. We're aiming to educate everyone on these codes, and I believe this question came from someone more on the fire protection side, possibly less familiar with the pallet industry. To answer your question, my best recommendation is to discuss it with the facility manager. e pallet industry often varies depending on the sector it's serving, and pallet usage can be seasonal. ere are times when there are ebbs and flows in the number of pallets in the yard, typically corresponding to how goods are moving at that time. For example, during a slow season, facilities might build up their inventory because they need to be prepared for the busier times to meet customer needs. So, the economic cycles will impact the fluctuation in the number of pallets in inventory at any given time. e best way to handle this is to have a conversation about it. I'd also encourage industry members to volunteer this information to their fire officials, as such information can be very helpful to them. The first thing you should do is determine the applicable code at your location. This isn't straightforward because there are different fire codes, like the ICC (International Fire Code) and NFPA 1, developed by private entities.

Articles in this issue

view archives of palletcentral - May-June 2023