Case study: High-piled storage code reference

In this example, a high-piled storage warehouse included many different aspects.

By Patrick Veldenian July 7, 2023
Cardboard boxes on wood pallets. Courtesy: MAG Material Handling

The following sample case study represents the code analysis produced for an existing high-piled storage warehouse. The warehouse under consideration contains crates of household products holdings in rack storage and solid-piled storage on floor arrangement. The analysis in details exhibit the requirements referenced in International Fire Code (IFC), International Building Code (IBC) and NFPA 13: Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems 2019 edition, for this specific storage warehouse.

Building data

Warehouse area: 24,400 square feet.

High-piled storage area: 15,800 square feet.

Building construction type: III-B.

Occupancy class/use group:

  • Business occupancy (B).
  • Storage occupancy moderate-hazard (S-1).

Ceiling height: 28 feet, 8 inches.

Sprinkler system: Yes, fully sprinklered building.

Selected design criteria: Early suppression fast response (ESFR) 25.2 K-factor, minimum operating pressure: 15 psi, reference NFPA 13 Table 23.3.1, maximum storage height 25 feet, maximum ceiling height 30 feet.

Sprinkler head data

Sprinkler head type: ESFR 25 K-Factor = 25.2.

Temperature rating: 212°F.

Maximum coverage area: 100 square feet.

Minimum coverage area: 64 square feet.

Maximum spacing: 12 feet for building heights up to 30 feet.

Minimum spacing: 8 feet.

Minimum clearance to commodity: 36 inches.

Deflector-to-ceiling distance: 6-18 inches.

Hose stream allowance and water supply duration: 250 gallons per minute for 60 minutes.

Maximum ceiling height: 48 feet (UL listing).

Maximum storage height: 43 feet (UL listing).

Storage arrangement: Palletized, solid pile, open frame; single row or double row rack.

Figure 5: Cardboard boxes on wood pallets.

Cardboard boxes on wood pallets. Courtesy: MAG Material Handling

Commodity, packaging and storage method

Storage method 1: Single- and double-row rack storage of household appliances in cartons and on wood pallets

Storage method 2: Wood crates (vaults) solid pile on floor for storage of household products

Packaging materials:

  • Rack storage: corrugated cartons.

  • Wood crates on floor: exposed storage.

Storage height and aisle width:

  • Rack storage: 21 feet.

  • Wood crates on floor: 21 feet.

  • Aisle width: larger than 8 feet.

Commodity classification:

Rack storage: Class I commodity per IFC Section 3203.2, noncombustible products in ordinary corrugated cartons, with or without single thickness dividers or in ordinary paper wrappings with or without wood pallets. The amount of Group A plastics shall be limited in accordance with Section 3203.9 such that the commodity is not classified as a Group A plastic.

Wood crates on floor: Class I-V commodity and unexpanded Group A plastics in accordance with Section 3203.8 and Table 3203.8, furniture and beddings (Group A plastics).

High-piled storage case plan. Courtesy: MAG Material Handling

High-piled storage case plan. Courtesy: MAG Material Handling

Further considerations

Section 3205: housekeeping and maintenance

For housekeeping and maintenance, requirements of the Section 3205 will be referenced, including rack structure integrity, clearance from ignition sources and no smoking signs, as well as aisle maintenance per Section 3205.4 shall be provided.

Section 3206: general fire protection and life safety features

In reference to Table 3206.2:

Commodity class: high hazard (high-piled commodity class I rack storage).

Size of high-piled storage area: 2,501-300,000 square feet (15,800 square feet actual).

Automatic fire extinguishing system: Yes, fire sprinkler system per Section 3208 rack storage (3206.4 and Table 3206.2).

Fire detection system: Not required (3206.5 and Table 3206.2).

Building access: Required (3206.6 and Table 3206.2).

Access doors: Required (3206.7 and Table 3206.2); location, access, marking, number of doors, door size and type, locking devices, key box, per Section 3206.7.2 to 3206.7.8.

The fire safety feature shall be extended to 15 feet beyond high-piled storage area as indicated on the following plan per Section 3206.1

Aisles per Section 3206.10.1 has been provided (more than 44 inches wide).

Author Bio: Patrick Veldenian, PE, CET, is a licensed fire protection engineer and certified system designer at CDM Smith. He performs fire and life safety systems code review, design, hydraulic analyses, site surveys and plan reviews for buildings and systems in the industrial, commercial and energy sectors.