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Fire safety in warehouses: 5 issues tenants forget to report

Klaas Vandamme - Profile
written by Klaas Vandamme
Published on:
Future logisticsImpact by responsibility
Safety & security

What often seem minor changes to tenants can have a major impact on a warehouse’s sprinkler system and fire safety overall. Unfortunately, many businesses are not aware they should report these to the owner of their warehouse. That’s where our checklist of most-overlooked changes comes in. 

1. New rooms or structures

In line with the current space usage optimisation trend, many warehouse tenants are removing and adding walls to create landings, walkways, and extra room for office spaces, cooling cells and so forth. Mezzanines, too, are a popular means to create more room. Any newly created space can impact egress routes and emergency evacuation plans, as well as smoke movement. Moreover, not all building materials are guaranteed to be sufficiently fire-resistant if you don’t consult with an expert. 

2. Obstructions on ceiling level

Anything installed on ceiling level may interfere with sprinkler systems. Think of banners and signage, cooling units, heating appliances, light fixtures … Be sure to bring any ceiling fixtures together between sprinkler branches so that the sprinkler system is not obstructed. If that’s not possible, the sprinkler system must be adapted by a specialist installation company and approved by the ANPI afterwards.

3. Stacking method

Tenants who want to change their stacking method, for instance stacking goods higher than originally communicated, must report this to the owner of the building. However, not all cases of non-compliant stacking are intentional. A good idea is to place signs indicating, for example, maximum height and minimum distance between racks.

4. Full shelves in racks

Full shelves are likely to obstruct the sprinklers. Open-grid metal shelves which are at least 70% open are much safer, especially if you combine them with in-rack sprinklers between the different levels.

5. New goods or packaging formats

What is stocked naturally has an impact on fire safety. Think in particular of gases, combustible liquids, oxidisers, chemicals, aerosols, expanded plastics (e.g., foam plastics or waxes), empty pallets, open-top combustible containers, rubber tyres, hanging garments, products that react violently with water, fireworks, and explosives. Yet changes in types of goods often go unreported by renters.

The same applies to changed packaging. In many cases it’s the supplier altering the packaging beyond the tenant’s control, but replacing Styrofoam with cardboard, to name just one example, calls for different fire safety measures inside the warehouse.

Got a change in your warehouse to report?

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with the owner of your building, preferably before making the change. If you’re renting a warehouse from WDP, you can easily report any changes in MyWDP

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