Enhancing efficiency in industrial and manufacturing facilities: Fire and life safety

From high-tech automation to energy-saving lighting and HVAC systems, there is more than meets the eye when it comes to warehouses and factories

By Consulting-Specifying Engineer September 26, 2019


Jason Danielson 

Stanley Consultants 

As an electrical specialist, Danielson has worked on low-voltage electrical design and special systems for industrial facilities, municipal government and federal government projects. His experience encompasses designing LED lighting and lighting control systems, low-voltage power, security, communication, surveillance, access control and fire alarm systems. 

Justin M. Harvey, PE, LEED AP BD+C 

Henderson Engineers 

As Associate/Warehouse and Distribution Practice Director, Harvey leads the company’s team on large-scale facility design to maximize supply chains for high-profile retailers. As a teenager, he was encouraged by a teacher who told him he had the skills to become a talented architectural engineer. 

Doug Sandridge, PE 

RTM Engineering 

Sandridge, principal, comes to RTM from Concord West, an engineering firm specializing in design, construction and management services that the firm acquired in June. His portfolio includes a number of liquor distilleries and international projects. 

CSE: What are some of the unique challenges regarding fire/life safety system design that you’ve encountered for such projects? How have you overcome these challenges? 

Sandridge: The fire department doesn’t have time to learn the owner process, we have to teach them. 

CSE: How have the trends in fire/life safety changed on such projects? 

Harvey: One of the biggest trends in the warehouse and industrial/manufacturing practice right now is the request from owners for larger and larger buildings. The clear height of these buildings continues to increase for high-pile storage warehouses, but codes and standards have not been designed to accommodate these heights in some cases. FM Global has standards that limit building heights to 45 feet and there are owners who are requesting higher clear heights. In these instances, it’s up to the owner to determine what best serves their building and relay that information to the design team. 

Sandridge: We’re seeing more regulations and more time in design. 

CSE: What firesmoke control and security features might you incorporate in these facilities that you wouldn’t see on other projects? 

Harvey: Smoke vents or smoke curtains are sometimes required, either by the types of construction being employed or by the AHJs themselves. It’s important to have open dialogue with the AHJ early on in the project so that you can relay atypical requests to be incorporated into design back to the design team. For example, smoke vents can affect the layout of light fixtures, rooftop air handling units or skylights, depending on the quantity required.