Fire Destroys Blue Bird Fruit Cold Storage Warehouse

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Question we answer: What are the fire protection maintenance needs for a cold storage warehouse?


  • Understand the risk that cold storage warehouses have without proper fire sprinklers.

  • Prevent corrosion and leaks with dry-pipe fire sprinklers with the right maintenance.

  • Never skip draining drum drips during the winter.

A cold storage warehouse in Peshastin, Washington was destroyed by a fire.

Cold storage facility storing pears burns to ground

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but Chelan County Fire Marshal Bob Plumb said, “The building is going to be a total loss. The adjacent buildings were not involved at all and they should be fine.”

The cold storage facility was a Blue Bird facility - a grower cooperative. The co-op has nearly 200 members and they invest in pears, apples, and cherries. This cold storage facility was 100% full of pears.

2015 Wildfire hit Blue Bird

A cherry packing house in Wenatchee was struck by disaster when a wildfire destroyed it. The co-op was rebuilt 11 months later at the site of the 2019 fire.

According to Good Fruit Grower, in the past four years there have been six fruit warehouse fires in North Central Washington. Pine Canyon Growers (November 2018), Philippi Fruit (March 2017), Chelan Fruit (August 2015), and Stemilt Growers (June 2015) were all destroyed in fires.

Older warehouses without adequate fire protection are at risk

Dougless County Fire Marshal Kurt Blanchard said, “The older age class are obviously at higher risk. I think modern warehouses, built under current code standards, adequately meet the laws for fire protection.”

F.E. Moran Fire Protection’s experience with older, ill-maintained cold storage warehouse fire protection

F.E. Moran was contacted when a dry-pipe system leaked, went unnoticed, and froze in a cold-storage warehouse. It went from a simple $3k/winter service job to a $500k repair job.

The cold storage facility was being sold when the system tripped. It filled the pipes with water.

The property manager never saw it, and the system kept leaking and eventually froze.

Once F.E. Moran arrived at the scene, it quickly became apparent that the fire sprinklers were never inspected, tested, or maintained. The repair job needed to be completed before the close of the sale, so the project came down to the wire. But, it was able to be completed. Read the full case study on this cold storage warehouse here.

In Conclusion

Cold storage warehouses are unique and require dry-pipe fire sprinklers. It’s important that dry-pipe fire sprinklers are inspected, tested, and maintained to ensure that they are working effectively.

Dry-pipe fire sprinklers run the risk of several issues.

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