Automatic sprinklers — what can impact effectiveness?

Your decisions can affect your fire protection

Your facility is equipped with an automatic sprinkler system for fire protection. Do you expect that a few sprinkler heads will operate and control the fire until the fire department finishes extinguishment? There is no way you could have a large fire, right? Well, think again. Automatic sprinkler systems are designed to a specific performance level to protect what is underneath them. An office building will have very different requirements than a warehouse. A warehouse storing paper goods will have different requirements than one storing plastics.

Considerations when making changes to operations

  • Leasing or buying a building — do you know if the sprinkler system design is going to be adequate for your intended use of the space?
  • Changing the storage configuration in your existing building — does this impact the adequacy of your current fire protection?
  • Introducing a new service or product that changes the type of storage, for example adding plastic storage — can your sprinkler system protect higher hazard storage?

Critical factors in sprinkler system design for warehouses

These are some of the factors that are part of the design considerations for sprinkler systems that protect warehouses:

  • What is being stored (paper, plastic, wood)?
  • How is it packaged (in cartons, plastic bins, no packaging)?
  • What is the maximum storage height?
  • What is the storage configuration?
  • Is storage on the floor in piles?
  • Are pallets wood or plastic?
  • Are storage racks being used?
  • Do the racks have open mesh shelves, solid shelves or no shelves?
  • What is the width of the racks?
  • How much aisle space is between the racks?
  • Are flue spaces (clear space between abutting racks) being maintained?
  • How much space is there from the top of the storage to the sprinkler head?

A change in just a single item above can make your existing sprinkler system go from one that will perform as designed to one that may become overwhelmed and allow a fire to grow uncontrolled.

When should I seek help?

You should contact Hanover Risk Solutions for help in evaluating your sprinkler protection when considering any of the following:

  • Leasing a new space or buying a new building
  • Building a new building or addition
  • Adding a new process
  • Changing the storage configuration

Assistance from Hanover Risk Solutions

Your Hanover Risk Solutions consultant can meet with you to discuss your options to protect your business from the hazards common to your industry. Hanover Risk Solutions can help you by:

  • Offering practical options to help ensure your fire protection system provides an expected level of control over a potential fire.
  • Partnering with you in the decision making process to help avoid costly upgrades to a building sprinkler system when buying a building or leasing a space.

Services we offer include the following:

  • Evaluation of the existing sprinkler system to determine the maximum performance level for the existing system.
  • Comparison of the existing system to the most current NFPA requirements that apply to your specific situation.
  • Modeling specific changes in the system and/or storage configuration such as:
    • Lowering your storage height
    • Changing sprinkler heads
    • Adding in-rack sprinklers if you have solid shelving in storage racks
    • Removing solid shelves or replacing solid shelves with open metal mesh shelves, perhaps avoiding the use of in-rack sprinklers
    • Adding hard stops to your racks to avoid storage encroaching on flue spaces
  • Work with you to develop sprinkler systems design criteria to ensure you obtain comparable quotes from sprinkler contractors when bidding on a new installation or revamping an existing system.
  • Review working drawings of new system installations to ensure the system meets insurance requirements, based on NFPA Standards.
  • Provide a field review after a new installation, to validate that the contractor completed the installation in accordance with submitted plans.
  • Provide recommendations and options to ensure the facility is adequately protected.

This material is provided for informational purposes only and does not provide any coverage or guarantee loss prevention. The examples in this material are provided as hypothetical and for illustration purposes only. The Hanover Insurance Company and its affiliates and subsidiaries (“The Hanover”) specifically disclaim any warranty or representation that acceptance of any recommendations contained herein will make any premises, or operation safe or in compliance with any law or regulation. By providing this information to you. The Hanover does not assume (and specifically disclaims) any duty, undertaking or responsibility to you. The decision to accept or implement any recommendation(s) or advice contained in this material must be made by you.

LC NOV 2018 12-81
171-0832 (1/14)