In today’s competitive consumer market companies have been forced to re-evaluate the logistics surrounding packaging and handling of products. This has greatly shifted the focus towards fewer, larger storage facilities. But now with everything under one (very large) roof, how is it best protected?
Cold storage warehouses present specific fire protection challenges:
• Shelving needs to be closely spaced to optimize usage, but this creates tight spaces for fire suppresants to penetrate.
• Food colouring and other proucts within frozen foods are flammable, frozen foods themselves are often classified as a
Class I or Class II commodity.
• The cardboard packaging of the products is also combustible; the cold air dries the cardboard making it more flammable than usual.
To protect the products for the consumer the area needs to be kept at a very cold temperature but upholding such temperature
is a hazard in itself:
The equipment required in warehouse supply chains such as rubber tires, rolled paper, carpets, baled fibre, lift truck batteries and lighting, are all highly combustible.
High Intensity Discharge (HID) Lighting (halide lamps, mercury vapour, and highpressure sodium lamps) are also combustible. Internal temperature of this lighting can reach 1,000 degrees. In order to maintain the temperature of a refrigerated warehouse, polyurethane and polystyrene foam are often used as insulators. Ammonia-based refrigeration equipment is common within a refrigerated warehouse. In concentrations of 15-28%, ammonia is flammable.
There are many challenges fitting fire protection within this type of facility. Conventional wetsystems pose several problems, not least thefact that sprinkler or water systems have height restrictions on nozzle placement and movable shelving systems have to be worked around.
To overcome these challenges, a Fire Eater INERGEN® inert gas system was proposed as the best fire protection solution for this cold store.
• INERGEN® suppresses fires and reduces the amount of oxygen in the application to 10-12% when discharged.
It is safe for the operator to be in the discharge area and evacuate safely as INERGEN® does not obscure visibility and does not ice up and possibly jam up escape routes.
• Pipework was installed in the risk area with minimum penetrations. INERGEN® behaves like a three-dimensional extinguishing agent
and therefore does not require the discharge nozzle to be mounted in-rack.
• High-pressure pipework was installed according to local standards and conformity to the Pressure Equipment Regulation PER.
630 cylinders were used in conjunction with selector valves to distribute the correct concertations of INERGEN® to the required risk.
Due to the outstanding performance characteristics of the INERGEN® system, Imperial Cold Logistics now has one of the continent’s largest, state of the art, fire-protected cold stores in Midrand Johannesburg. By using a Fire Eater INERGEN® system, all risk criteria was met and the project accelerated by five months.
“What we appreciated most about working with the FST team was their ability to cut through the predictable politics of a project, keep everyone happy, and deliver the expected results in an efficient and professional manner.”
Anthony van Zyl, General Manager – Warehouse, Imperial Cold Logistics