Fire Protection

Warehouse Fire Risks: What are the hazards?

Warehouse Fire Risks:  What are the hazards?

Automated warehouses are the future of the industry. Robots pull products from open plastic bins, blocking fire sprinklers from doing their job. When that product bin catches fire, how will the fire sprinkler work? Warehouse managers and risk managers - read this to learn the new way fire protection needs to be designed for automated warehouses.

Case Study: Magnificent Mile Parking Garage

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Magnificent Mile Parking Gets Safer

The Shops at Northbridge is a bustling shopping experience that brings tourists in for a sweet treat at Sugar Factory or a new outfit at Nordstrom.  Hundreds, maybe thousands of cars are in and out of the parking garage at 10 East Grand Avenue each day.  They need to be protected, so F.E. Moran Fire Protection, Northern Illinois (FPN) was hired to install fire protection in the 11-story parking garage and an adjacent 2-story parking garage - while remaining open.  The challenges of working in an open parking garage were real, but they met the difficult task head on and the project ended successfully. 

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Two Parking Garage Projects with No Closures

The project was challenging on multiple levels.  Both, the 11-story and 2-story parking garage remained open during the entire project.  This made coordination and scheduling especially important on this project. 

The project schedule was very aggressive.  FPN was awarded the project in mid-August and needed to complete it before Thanksgiving when the shopping rush would begin for the holidays.  Not only did FPN need to coordinate with having parts of the garage open at all times, they also needed to maintain a tight deadline.  The aggressive timeline made getting materials on time more challenging, especially since special piping was needed and the lead times were too long for the project timeline.



Planning is the Key to Success

To meet the challenge of working in an open parking garage, FPN made diligent plans ahead of time.  They scheduled out where the fitters would be installing and coordinated accordingly.  That way, they could keep much of the parking garage open while completing their job on time.

Our project manager, Bob Modica, sought out materials from a variety of places to meet demands.  He worked with several fabricators to get the materials he needed on time.  

Nothing Compares to Team Effort

In the end, FPN installed a dry-pipe fire protection system with a nitrogen generator with 3,900 sprinkler heads.  A nitrogen generation system, when added to a dry pipe sprinkler system, removes oxygen and reduces corrosion.  Nitrogen has a negative dew point, which dries out any water that may be in the pipes, eliminating two elements that cause corrosion.



The Magnificent Mile parking garage got a dry-pipe system with nitrogen to prevent corrosion, on time without inconveniencing Shops of Northbridge guests.  Bob Modica said, "This was truly a team effort.  The field, design, purchasing, and project management all worked together and most importantly, communicated well throughout the project to make this a highly successful project."

A Guide to High-rise Building Safety

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High-rise buildings present unique challenges when it comes to the area of fire safety. In most buildings, those inside will only need to travel down a flight or two of stairs to get to safety, if they have to travel down any flights of stairs at all. In a high-rise building, however, people might need to travel down several flights of stairs to get to ground level and out the door.



Even so, there are many misconceptions about high-rise building safety that, once disproven, will make the issue much more clear. Here are six fire safety tips for those living and working in high-rise buildings.

1. Stairways Stay Safe

 The first misconception when it comes to high-rise building safety is that even the stairways will be dangerous during a fire. In reality, high-rise buildings are designed to be as fire resistant as possible, and this especially extends to the buildings’ stairways. Most high-rise fires end up becoming contained to one specific apartment or floor while the stairways remain unaffected. As a result, an individual’s top priority when faced with a high-rise fire is to seek the nearest stairway immediately.



2. Be Sure to Call 911

 One common mistake that people make in cases of high-rise fires is assuming that someone else has already called 911. It’s far better to assume that someone has already called and then call anyway than to assume someone has called when they actually haven’t.

This way, you can potentially prevent the spread of the fire and even help others who might be trapped. If you’re calling on a cell phone, you can even call while making your way to safety.

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3. Don’t Panic

 Your first instinct will likely be to leave immediately. While this is understandable, it isn’t always the safest thing to do. If you know that a fire is burning and are about to leave your apartment, feel the door with the back of your hand. If your door feels warm or hot to the touch within five seconds, this indicates a dangerous fire condition in your corridor. You’ll want to get a wet towel and seal the cracks in the door where the smoke is entering into your apartment and inform the authorities of the situation as well as where you’re located. Try to breathe normally and stay calm; staying calm during an emergency can save your life and the lives of those around you.

4. Move Quickly but Safely

 Natural human instinct will make you want to run out of your apartment as soon as possible, but there are certain steps you should take before leaving. If your apartment door is not warm or hot to the touch, it’s safe for you to crack open the door and check for the presence of smoke in your corridor. If the corridor is safe, you should alert everyone on the rest of your floor of the presence of the fire. You should close your apartment door without locking it and then carefully make your way to the nearest stairway. Under no circumstances should you use the elevators.



5. Know Your Building

 No two high-rise buildings are alike. It’s important that you learn the layout and fire safety plan in your building before you find yourself in a dangerous situation. There will most likely be fire hose adapters and fittings located somewhere within your building as well as fire extinguishers, exits, and stairways.

Knowing your building can be the difference between life and death. Maps and other information should be available in all high-rise buildings, and this will give you the opportunity to study the layout of your building so that you’ll be better prepared should a fire safety issue arise in the future.

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6. Stay Fire Safe

 The key to fire safety is having a proper contingency plan, being prepared, and having the ability to stay calm even in a stressful situation. No one is ever expecting a high-rise fire, but there are things that you can do to ensure that you are as prepared as possible for one. This way, you can notify the authorities, alert others in your high-rise building about the fire, and get to safety.

If you take the necessary steps toward preparing for the possibility of a high-rise building fire, you will be that much more able to respond appropriately should the situation ever occur. Being prepared and vigilant are the keys to fire safety.

Author Bio:

 Alfonso Gonzalez is a freelance writer based in Malibu, California. He spent 25 years in the construction industry, working roofing, plumbing, electrical, and more before retiring. In his free time, he likes to work on home repair projects.