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What kind of fire sprinkler system do I need for my storage facility?

One of the cool things about being in a particular industry over time is beginning to see trends. Without crafty marketing to inform you, certain items begin to appear as typical. It’s fascinating to sit down and realize that you just recommended to a customer the same product that you sold to a similar customer yesterday. It’s not always good, however.


More times than I wish, customers have enthusiastically called us to visit their new facility and help them come up with an optimal storage plan. They've imagined how the improved height can be leveraged for increased floor space savings and higher profits. Unfortunately they learn after it’s too late, that their new facility isn’t up to code. Maybe it’s a “change of use” situation: It used to be a factory but you want to use it for storage. Or maybe it’s simply an older building. In many cases it’s an absence of sprinklers. And in this instance around here you can’t store products above a mere 12’ without sprinklers.

Otherwise, what if it is sprinklered but due to the classification of the commodities it requires something else, like major surgery?

Here’s what I mean: One customer had a facility, but the city plans for that building only allowed for a certain square footage to be used for high pile storage. They had two options: Reduce their storage, or install very expensive smoke vents in the roof. Another couple of customers had a change-of-use situation that eventually required the addition of fire doors. In ALL of these cases the cost was both unexpected and substantial. So what gives?

Naturally, there are a couple of ways to fix this, but it’s in that very small space right before signing the lease that is the most effective place to do so. The first step is to look up your commodity and it’s fire classification (1-4, 4 being highly combustable). Next, ask your realtor about the building, and what it’s prior use was. And lastly, call a licensed General Contractor.

But not just any GC, find one who specializes in storage. This GC is probably the most valuable asset you have right before signing that lease. You know what? Give us a call, we’ve done this before!

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