According to the NCB (National Crime Bureau ) there are on average more than 1,200 warehouse fires each year, resulting in more than Rs.1550 lakhs in property damage.
When considering fire safety, protection and suppression systems for a warehouse, there are various requirements for each type and application.
The building, the products and the personnel are of the utmost importance. Standards, codes and policies help protect each of these assets.
Warehousing fire codes and policies are designed using the NBC policies and Uniform Building Codes along with local municipalities’ codes. First steps to consider in securing a responsibly designed fire safe building:
- What is the space being used for? The National Building Code (NBC) classifies the building and functions which then governs the degree of fire protection required.
- What is the maximum occupancy? The maximum occupancy recommendation can be calculated from the NBC maximum floor area allowances per occupant based on the building type.
- How many exits are required? Most buildings require at least 2 exits, but the minimum of 2 doors applies to 500 occupants or less; an additional door is required for each subsequent increase of 500 occupants.
Within the building, considerations must be taken for the scenario of if a fire starts, how can it be controlled or suppressed?
- What is on fire? The NBC has 4 classifications of fire by the type of material and how it should be extinguished.
- What type of sprinkler system is required? Automatic sprinkler systems are required in nearly all commercial buildings. When talking about warehouse storage space, more sophisticated, in-rack systems may be required. The design is based on the fire class (what is burning), the storage height and spacing, and water pressure.
- Early Suppression/ Fast Response (ESFR) sprinkler systems can replace in-rack sprinklers with their high output, high volume sprinkler heads, but need access to large volumes of water and may require a fire pump installation.
Further precautions to be considered:
- Fire prevention education and training. All employees should be trained on proper procedures with equipment or machinery. Employees must be trained and aware of the plan in case of an emergency.
- No smoking. All facilities are encouraged to enforce a no smoking policy in and around the facility.
The NBC 2016 provides fire safety standards to protect the warehouse, product and personnel from fire related loss.
While the standards are voluntary, implementing and adhering to these life saving and ultimately cost-saving measures advocate the ethical responsibility of the company.