As a warehouse facilities manager or safety engineer, when it comes to fire safety, you may feel that following local warehouse fire safety regulations, NFPA standards, and OSHA requirements is enough to minimize the threat of fire. While these codes are extensive, mandatory, and effective, they can’t possibly address every fire hazard present in your warehouse, your employees’ daily activities, or the influx of inventory changes, all of which make warehouse fire safety complex. That’s why you need a warehouse fire safety checklist!
There are convenient, easy-to-follow warehouse fire safety tips you and your staff can take to reduce the risk of fire, keep people safe, and mitigate property loss – you’ll find these tips here in a 2-part handy warehouse fire safety guide and checklist.
During 2009-2013, an estimated 1,210 warehouse structure fires were reported to U.S. fire departments each year. These fires caused an annual average of three civilian deaths, 19 civilian injuries, and $155 million in direct property damage. – National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
Part 1 – Warehouse Fire Safety Checklist
Daily warehouse fire prevention, thorough employee training, and partnering with an outside fire protection company can keep your warehouse safe from fires throughout the year, not just before a scheduled inspection. Fire equipment such as fire extinguishers, fire sprinkler systems, and fire suppression systems stop fire from spreading once it starts, but best-practice is to avoid a fire altogether, and that comes from education and diligence.
This warehouse fire safety checklist is a useful tool to help employees adhere to daily fire safety measures in warehouses.
☐ Fire safety training documents are readily available to all.
☐ Exits, aisles, evacuation routes, and fire alarm pull stations are unblocked.
☐ All exit signs and evacuation lights are fully operational.
☐ Debris, discarded packing materials, trash, and flammable items are in proper waste bins (nothing is accumulating where it shouldn’t).
☐ Extension cords and electrical equipment are being used properly; no extension cords are being used long-term or connected to each other.
☐ Fire extinguishers are all accounted for and have been inspected as per NFPA 10.
☐ Nothing is hanging from fire sprinkler/suppression systems lines, heads, nozzles.
☐ Fire pump riser rooms are empty – nothing should be stored in these.
☐ Flammable/combustible liquids are in safety cabinets and stored per OSHA1926, NFPA30, and your local Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) guidelines.
☐ Communicate with your trusted fire protection engineer when there are any operational changes (inventory type, scope, class, quantity, storage configurations, etc.).
These warehouse fire safety tips are easy fire prevention measures you and your employees can implement. They’re also the basic warehouse fire safety regulations the fire inspector will look for, along with the more technical fire safety code standards detailed in the following section.
Part 2 – Warehouse Fire Safety Regulations Checklist
To make fire safety less challenging in your ever-changing warehouse environment, aside from the daily prevention actions listed above, refer to NFPA Standards and use this guide and checklist to stay on track. Please keep in mind, this list is not exhaustive – your large warehouse will have its own unique set of hazards and fire safety requirements based on many different factors. This is especially true when considering the types of products kept in your warehouse.
☐ Hold annual fire safety training for all employees and train new hires immediately.
☐ Appoint fire watch employees, evacuation managers, and those who stay behind to shut down critical equipment.
☐ Have your fire protection engineer ensure each building’s original fire protection design is still up-to-code with current operations.
☐ Practice fire and emergency evacuation drills.
☐ Post “No Smoking” signs inside; have a dedicated smoking area outside, away from buildings, trash bins, and vegetation.
☐ Get to know your local fire department and understand what you need to do to remain compliant.
☐ Have the right fire suppression systems and/or sprinkler systems for your warehouse; inspect and maintain them to assure they will work when needed.
☐ Have fully-charged, undamaged, fire extinguishers readily available and teach everyone how to use them.
☐ Ensure your water system has enough capacity and pressure to support the sprinklers.
☐ Maintain 18 inches of open space beneath sprinkler heads or suppression nozzles, or 24 inches below ceiling if there are no sprinklers. ESFR sprinklers may require 36 inches of clearance.
☐ There must be 3 inches of space on all sides between pallets (transverse space).*
☐ There must be 6 inches of longitudinal flue space between loads or back-to-back rows.*
☐ If your warehouse has racked pallets, there must be 3 inches of “transverse flue space” on either side of every rack. This is the space on either side of a racked pallet.*
☐ Dead-end aisles must be noted and cannot exceed 50 ft. in length.
☐ During manual restocking, keep a minimum unobstructed aisle width of 24 inches or half the aisle width – whichever is greater.
☐ Mechanical restocking requires an unobstructed aisle of at least 44 inches.
☐ Automated material handling equipment (carousels or ASRS) will have additional code requirements to prevent the equipment’s motion from spreading fire.
*Flue space is measured as the distance between loads, not the distance between racks. In a standard pallet rack configuration with 3 inches of pallet overhang, rows of racks will need to be at least 12 inches apart.
Using and/or posting this fire safety checklist around your facility will help you stay code compliant and avoid costly violations. Because each warehouse is unique with specific fire safety requirements, it is most efficient and reliable to work with AIE fire protection engineers. Our expert team will determine what you need, where, and when, and simplify your fire code compliance.
Keep Your Warehouse & Your People Safe from Fire
We understand how time-consuming and back-burner fire safety can be when you’re busy. Interpreting ever-changing fire codes, fire safety training, balancing safety with operations, and fire safety adherence is complicated. That’s why AIE exists. We have been helping coast-to-coast clients with fire safety compliance since 1983. We focus on warehouse fire safety, you focus on your business.
Our goal is to simplify your warehouse fire protection and life safety systems inspections, maintenance, and repairs to help you remain code compliant so you can carry on with business and leave the complicated stuff to us. Contact us today and let’s talk about your warehouse fire protection needs. 800-892-9863