Fire Code Compliance - Flue Spaces and why they are important
Flames should go up through Flue Spaces not through out the warehouse
What is Flue Space?
Flue Spaces are clear vertical lines of sight from the floor up to the ceiling within pallet rack storage areas. There are two types of flue spaces; the transverse flue spaces and longitudinal flue spaces between rows of storage in the direction of loading.
Longitudinal flues – are the spaces between rows of storage perpendicular to the direction of loading with a width up to 24 inches. (600 mm). Longitudinal flues spaces are higher than 24 inches, are considered aisles.
Transverse flues – is the space between loads on rack storage parallel to the loading direction.
Why are they important?
The purpose of Flue spaces are to allow heat from a fire to vent vertically, this allows the fire sprinkler system to active as quick as possible and slow down the horizontal fire spread within the rack.
Flue spaces are also necessary to allow the fire sprinkler water to reach the base of the fire down through the racks. Without adequate water reaching the burning materials on the lower levels, the fire may not be controlled.
Pallet Rack flue space compliance is increasingly important to insurers and operators of warehouses and other industrial facilities.
Row spacers are frequently installed to produce precise longitudinal flue space within a rack system.
Row spacers can vary from 6 inches to 18 inches depending on your needs, but it can be 24 inches in some cases.
For a rack system flue space to be adequate, it needs to be designed and used accordingly.
The pallets within restrained so that they do not block a clear line, top-to-bottom longitudinal flue. Pallet push-through can result in blocked longitudinal flue space, even if the rows are adequately spaced.
Well Designed & Maintained System
A well designed storage system is only as efficient and effective as the people using it. In order for a storage system to operate as planned, Flue Spaces must always be respected and kept clear of obstructions. In order for your pallet rack system to be fire code compliant, it must meet all of the following guidelines:
1. Do not use solid rack decking such as particle board, ply-wood, or wire deck with cardboard or plastic on top of them covering the ventilation.
2. Do not block a clear line, top-to-bottom longitudinal flue. Pallet push-through can result in blocked longitudinal flue space, even if the rows are adequately spaced.
3. Some warehouses opt for an extra beam installed at the back of each bay for a more rigid solution. One issue with this is that it rigidly limits the size of pallets to very little overhang. It’s an easy way to go about it, but it is a very limiting method.
What can you do to prevent flue space obstruction
The best solution for flue space obstruction is to create guidelines within your organization and follow through. Inspect your warehouse once every 3 months to assure your employees are following guidelines and positioning the pallets as per your Fire Code Enforcement jurisdiction and your High Pile Storage Permit.