Warehouse owners are continuing to increase building height and footprint to achieve a desired storage capacity. Although this presents greater risk it is one they are choosing to take because of the day to day cost savings. This is true even when we factor in the cost of the fire protection systems mandated to protect these facilities. Tall warehouses contain more goods per square foot, which in turn increases the potential property loss per floor area in the event of a fire. Property losses resulting from smoke and fire damage to inventory, in many cases, have far surpassed the construction cost of the buildings themselves. With these larger buildings and new challenges, more steps need to be taken to prevent the start and spread of fire before sprinkler activation. If there is a problem with the sprinkler system and extinguishment efforts do not work, the time delay could be disastrous.
James A. Lynch is the manager of Technical Services, axonX LLC, Sparks, Md.