There's a fire in the new warehouse you built in a rural area, and the local volunteer fire department isn't equipped to handle it. Is your inventory doomed to destruction?
Not if you have the proper fire prevention and suppression systems in place, according to the engineers who took part in a design challenge sponsored by the Fire Protection Research Foundation. At the foundation's "High Challenge Warehouse Workshop" in February, the engineers presented a variety of solutions for achieving final fire extinguishment in a hypothetical warehouse without fire department intervention.
The engineers' assignment was to design a fire protection system for a planned combination low- and high-bay facility to be built in a rural community on a site with a limited public water supply. The plastic commodity inside will be stored on wood pallets in racks that are a maximum 65 feet high and will be handled by both automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) and forklift trucks. The local volunteer fire department will not enter the warehouse except to rescue people and will not attempt to fully extinguish the fire.
As part of their presentations, participants were asked to specify what extinguishing methods they would use, the method of fire detection and release of the extinguishing media, and how they might make use of the AS/RS equipment.
All of the solutions presented at the workshop were in compliance with National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards, yet there was plenty of room for creativity. One company, for instance, suggested attaching a camera-guided foam-dispensing nozzle to the AS/RS. Several proposed incorporating fire detection equipment in the AS/RS and using the machines to move product away from the flames.
You can find background information, details of the case study, and slide presentations of the design proposals here.