High-Piled What…

I got a call from a client asking me to do a structural inspection of a building he is leasing to a distribution company. As I stepped into the loading dock, what I saw made me shake my head. Wood pallets stacked as high as practical and as deep as possible. I certainly recognized this as a high piled storage condition. Knowing this building as well as I do, I knew the facility was not designed to accommodate this condition.

High-Piled Combustible Storage is a term used by the Building and Fire Codes to define areas in buildings where goods or materials are stored in racks or solid piles greater than a given height (typically 12’-0”) above the floor.  Many buildings may be tall enough to store above 12’-0”, but have not been designed to accommodate the high-piled combustible storage condition. Through the years we at PDMi have been in many buildings with high-piled storage conditions and have found that many of them are in non-compliance with many, if not all, of the applicable code previsions for high-piled storage.

Most building owners and tenants have not heard this term or are not aware that there are building codes and insurer compliance requirements that govern the safety of their facility. These codes and requirements include such things as:

  • Installation of a fire sprinkler system.
  • Installation of a mechanical smoke & heat ventilation system or roof venting skylights & curtain boards.
  • Installation of a fire alarm system.
  • Installation of a fire apparatus access road around the building and firefighting access doors in the exterior walls.
  • Installation of in-rack sprinkler system for high-hazard commodities.

Code requirements for high-piled combustible storage are based on commodity classification of the materials and how they are stored, including pallet material and if the commodity is in cardboard boxes or shrink wrap.  If you have any questions on what codes or regulations may apply to your storage areas it may be value added to talk with a professional. The professional’s experience and knowledge will be able to help determine the best solutions for your commodity storage so as to keep your facility free of hazards.

We would love the opportunity of working with you to evaluate your existing facility or if you are planning a new building or addition – please feel free to give me a call.

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