Pallet Fire Prevention Tips (Indoor and Outdoor) | Pallet Consultants
Consistently following preventative fire safety measures are key to protecting life, product and property at pallet yards and facilities. Fires can appear unexpectedly and spread quickly, making prevention the first line of defense.
Facilities and yards that use large amounts of pallets should always be conscious of their fire risk. They are surrounded by and contain large amounts of fuel for fire, and an errant spark or an unusually hot, dry weather spell can set the lumber ablaze. This possibility means pallet facilities and employees are at constant risk of injury or destruction by an outbreak of fire. Talk to our experts to learn more about our pallet safety procedures and how we prevent fires. To best prevent the risk of fire, there are certain procedures that should be followed when storing pallets indoors and outside.
- Inspect work areas for debris like sawdust or hot nails daily
- Inspect sprinkler system regularly
- Ensure your pallet stacks are of the proper height and density for your sprinklers
- Store all pallets flat on the ground to minimize airflow
- Do not keep inventories close to buildings or fuels like propane
- Regularly rotate pallets and clean underneath stacks
- Do not block warehouse entrances or air intakes
- Inspect pallets for dryness
- Have fire alarms accessible in yard
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One of the best ways to reduce the risk of fire for pallets stored indoors is detailed cleaning and facility upkeep. Before and after every shift a fire safety checklist should be performed. Sawdust, wood scraps and other waste are all combustible materials that increase the fire risk when present. Smaller pieces of wood burn more easily, meaning that less wood clutter and scraps means a lower risk of fire.
A typical fire safety checklist would require an inspection of:
- Nailer and saw areas
- Heat treatment equipment
- Storage areas
- Inside perimeter of warehouse
- Sprinkler heads, looking for obstruction
- Fire hydrant and extinguishers, checking maintenance dates and function
- Fueling areas
- Any equipment that can become hot during use
This list is non-exhaustive, but is a good general starting point for most facilities. Depending upon the warehouse, some of these may not apply or additional actions may be necessary. Properly implemented and working sprinkler systems and fire extinguishers are the next line of defense after routine inspections and upkeep. Good inspections and cleaning regiments lower the risk of combustion, but only a sprinkler system or fire extinguishers can stop a fire before once it has begun.
- Preferred pallet storage area be in nearby room or building away from main storage areas by fire-retardant wall and protected doorways
- Steel columns in the storage room should have fire coverings rated to withstand a fire for one hour, and the wall coverings good for three hours
- Pallet storage room with pallet stacks under 12 feet high need NFPA 13 standard sprinkler system
- Pallet storage room with stacks over 12 feet should have an Early Suppression Fast Response (ESFR) sprinkler system
For pallet stack height and density regulations and corresponding sprinkler requirements, consult these charts from the NFPA 13 2016 Guidebook titled Standard for Installation of Sprinkler Systems. The K-Factor is the rate of water discharge from the sprinkler nozzles.
Work areas, equipment, and pallet storage areas should all be inspected and cleaned regularly. This includes pallet inventory rotation, adherence to guidelines about spacing and stack height, and the cleaning of the area under and around stored pallets. Additionally, pallets should not be stored near walkways or doors to prevent blocking people from moving freely. All empty pallets should also be stored flat on the ground, not sideways or on racks as this increased airflow makes wood burn faster.
Outdoor storage is an easy way to prevent direct risk to a warehouse or other structures, but it comes with its own problems. Pallets stored in the elements can become dry, and may develop splints, cracks or frayed edges that make them more likely to combust in extreme dry heat. Additionally, fire suppressant technologies like fire extinguishers or sprinklers are much harder to implement on the large, uncovered yards where many pallets are stored.
When being stored outside, pallets should:
- Be kept at least 50 feet away from other combustible materials or buildings
- Be kept far from fuel sources like propane tanks
- Stacks should not be near building openings or intakes, like doors or ventilation intakes
- Not be near any doorways or pathways, similar to indoor storage protocols
- Be rotated and inspected for damage, fraying or dryness which increases the risk of fire
- Have the area around and underneath the pallets cleaned on regular schedule to avoid buildup of sawdust and debris on hot cement
This building had pallets stored too close to it. Situations like this can make fires larger, more likely or harder to contain.
Fire alarms and other emergency alerts should also be accessible in multiple parts of the yard in case a fire does occur. This will alert authorities and allow others in the area to evacuate.
Fires are an everyday risk in pallet facilities and warehouses in general. Fire hazards can injure and kill personnel and emergency responders in addition to causing millions of dollars in damage to products and buildings. Meticulous fire prevention and safety procedures are the best way to prevent a fire from ever happening. This blog is a good primer for brushing up on fire safety, but facilities should also review their own fire safety guidelines, double-check any local regulations and possibly contact their local fire inspector for inspections or advice. To learn more about how Pallet Consultants prevent fires and ensures warehouse safety start a conversation with us.
As a leading national pallet provider, our goal is not only outstanding products and services, but also best in class customer service. We have over 20 years in the industry and can help you in any situation, anywhere in the country. Whether it’s new or recycled pallets, heat treatment or total pallet management, we can do it all.