Warehouse Fire Safety

Fires in warehouses are an all too common occurrence, often causing widespread damage and resulting in serious business interruption. For many years arson has been by far the leading cause of fires in commercial and industrial premises, followed by fires of electrical origin.

Fire Safety Legislation

Fundemental to fire safety is the need to ensure that an ef- fective risk assessment is undertaken in accordance with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. Where flammable liquids, gases or other dangerous materials are stored, a risk assessment should also be conducted in compliance with the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations (DSEAR).

Storage Arrangements

Provide clearly defined storage arrangements interspaced with aisles of adequate width to facilitate full premises access/inspection and adequate means of escape.

Keep electrical switchgear, heating equipment and other plant clear of storage and provide guarding as required
Keep goods a minimum of 0.5m clear of light fittings (or as advised in your policy schedule). Particular care needs to be taken when employing high intensity discharge light- ing, for which the manufacturers’ guidance relating to safe lamp clearance distances and the provision of lamp contain- ment barriers should be observed. Irrespective of the type of lighting installation, the positioning of luminaires within aisles, rather than directly above stock is best advice.

Where sprinkler protection is installed, adequate clearance between sprinkler heads and stored goods should be maintained.

Storage should be kept clear of fire doors and fire exits should always be unobstructed Hazardous materials such as flammable liquids, oxidising agents and aerosol products should be suitably segregated as determined by the DSEAR risk assessment.

Outside storage of idle pallets, plastic crates and other combustibles should be strictly controlled. Individual stacks should, where possible, be limited to a maximum height of 6m and storage kept at least 10m (or 1.5 x the stack height where greater) from buildings, and a minimum of 2m from the site boundary

Avoid storing combustible materials on loading docks and under external canopies out of working hours.

Electrical Installation

Ensure that the electrical installation is correctly installed and maintained in accordance with BS 7671: Requirements for Electrical Installations.

Complete inspection and testing at periodic intervals by a competent electrical contractor, and remedy defects promptly.

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) recommends an initial inspection and testing period for warehouse premises of 5 years, with subsequent inspection and testing at intervals recommended by the inspector.

Article content courtesy of LV – featured in Issue 1 of BIG Magazine