Warehouse Inspection Group
High-Piled Storage and Tire Storage Permits
High-piled storage systems have been involved in some of the largest fire loss incidents across the nation, resulting in huge monetary costs, interruption of business, and increasing insurance costs. The Denver Fire Department developed a high-piled storage program in 2004 and is continuously striving to keep up with the newest in fire protection solutions for the unique challenges associated with high-piled storage facilities.
Mission: The mission of the Warehouse Inspection Group is to perform comprehensive inspections on these highly technical storage arrangements in order to reduce large-loss fires involving warehouses. Fire Prevention’s Warehouse Inspection Group performs annual inspections and walk-throughs to ensure proper storage heights, arrangements, and commodity classification. A permit program was developed to help manage this program and verify the adequacy of fire safety systems in high-piled combustible storage facilities.
Code Requirements: Denver’s Fire and Building Codes are based on the International Codes, the uniform standard for most of the nation. Combustible storage is regulated in Section 413 of the Denver Building Code, which requires that high-piled stock or storage in any occupancy group shall comply with the Fire Code. Chapter 23 of the Fire Code provides requirements on the configuration, height of storage and additional requirements that are triggered based on the area of storage. The requirements may include an automatic fire sprinkler system, automatic detection system, smoke/heat venting, or additional exterior doors.
Definition: High-piled storage is defined as:
Storage of combustible materials in closely packed piles or combustible materials on pallets, in racks or on shelves where the top of storage is greater than 12 feet (3658 mm) in height. High-piled combustible storage also includes certain high-hazard commodities, such as rubber tires, Group A plastics, flammable liquids, pallets and similar commodities, where the top of storage is greater than six feet (1829 mm) in height.
Inspections: Warehouse inspectors will conduct at a minimum an annual fire safety inspection on each warehouse facility. Many will require additional follow-up inspections, depending on conditions identified during the initial fire safety inspection visit. In the past, many warehouse facilities have received basic fire inspections from Denver Fire Department personnel that focused on general housekeeping practices; in the current program, the Warehouse Inspections Group conducts more technical inspections focused on concerns with changing storage practices and the hazards of high-piled storage systems.
Operational Approval and Permits: A permit program that includes high-piled storage has been in place since 1998. A permit to operate is issued only when an operation or business conforms to Denver’s Fire Code and other pertinent laws and ordinances. Before an annual permit is approved, the Fire Prevention Division Fire Inspector is authorized to inspect the receptacles, vehicles, buildings, devices, premises, storage spaces, or areas to be used to determine compliance with Denver’s fire code or any operational constraints required. Continued compliance with the conditions of the permit is mandatory, since the permit is a contract or covenant between the City and County of Denver and the business to operate, perform, conduct or direct a hazardous operation, process or occupancy. The permit process allows continual review of the business’ compliance with the contract’s terms. Failure to meet the terms of the contract (permit) may results in the business’ forfeiture of the right to conduct or operate the process, operation or occupancy, and subsequently the Denver Fire Department may revoke the permit.
Installation Approval and Permits: High-piled storage operations are required to be submitted to the Denver Fire Department Fire Prevention Engineering unit prior to installation. Also, the Fire Prevention Division has a program by which a prospective warehouse tenant/owner can have a warehouse surveyed to determine if the intended operation will be code-compliant. The design consultant for the warehouse owner/tenant must address the storage arrangement in the design stage and submit this information to the Fire Prevention Engineering unit. The design consultant shall include an application for permit with the design submittal. The applicant (owner/tenant) must supply all necessary information to determine compliance with Denver’s FIre Code. At a minimum, the design submittal must include:
- Floor plan of the building showing location and dimensions of high-piled storage areas.
- Usable storage height for each storage area.
- Number of tiers within each rack, if applicable.
- Commodity clearance between top of storage and sprinkler deflector for each storage arrangement.
- Aisle dimensions between each storage array.
- Maximum pile volume for each storage array.
- Location and classification of commodities in accordance with Section 2303.
- Location of commodities which are banded or encapsulated.
- Location of required fire department access doors.
- Type of fire suppression and fire detection systems, including fire sprinkler design density(s).
- Location of valves controlling the water supply of ceiling and in-rack sprinklers.
- Type, location and specifications of smoke removal and curtain board systems.
- Dimension and location of transverse and longitudinal flue spaces.
- Additional information regarding required design features, commodities, storage arrangement and fire protection features within the high-piled storage area shall be provided at the time of submittal.
The design consultant must identify the requirements of Chapter 23 on the submittal and include special attention to Section 2306 (General Fire Protection and Life Safety Features).