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MadMacaw

VA Fire Suppression Requirements

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MadMacaw    2

Hi!

Does anyone know what the limit of alcohol production and storage is in Virginia whereby a fire suppression system is not required?

 

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Bluefish_dist is correct with one important addition - the 120 gallon limit only applies to liquids containing more than about 20 vol % alcohol. Below the concentration, it is considered non-flammable and is exempt. Also, once the high proof alcohol is in wooden barrels, it is exempt from this limit.

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Where do I find the exemption to the 120 gallons when in barrels?  Also, what do I have to do to get past the fire sprinkler restriction?  I'm do circles with my local agencies who don't know what to do.

 

    

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With the new standards, you really can't get past the 120 gal without sprinklers.   The barrel exemption is going away from talking with our local fire inspector.   With that said, here is a good read on the subject from a current standpoint from Oregon http://www.oregon.gov/bcd/codes-stand/Documents/Interpretations/interp-15-02-craftdistillery.pdf

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So do these standards apply to distilleries in rural areas as well as municipalities?   I know of several distilleries in rural areas with no sprinkler systems that store thousands of gallons of spirits in totes.  Maybe this is a state by state thing, not a federal thing?  

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I have another question.  I plan on building wooden racking houses on the side of a big hill on my property.  So if I have 300 barrels in a wooden barrel house that is on the side of my hill with no neighbors within 1 mile of me, am I going to have to have sprinklers in my barrel houses?  I just don't see that being required here.  It is nonsensical.

http://distillery-equipment.com      http://moonshine-still.co

 

 

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From our local fd, at the 1000 gallon mark you have to add spill control and secondary containment.  Sprinklers would not be required.   If less than 55 gallon barrels and less than 1000 gallons you would not need sprinklers or spill control/secondary containment. 

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Bluefish,  I have been in several distilleries with large amounts of ethanol and no spill control and no sprinkler system.  I was actually at a distillery when the fire marshal inspected them and there were three 270 gallon totes of NGS stacked in the store room and he passed them with no issues.  I guess if a persons local fire marshal says that it is okay that is the end of it, right?  I mean there is no higher authority in that jurisdiction, so who would bother you about it? 

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JustAndy    12

The issue with the local fire marshal not caring if your non-compliant is that fire marshals and inspectors change. In our municipal area there are around 6 distilleries that opened 6+ years ago and up until 3 years ago no one had any serious issues with their inspector or city officials. A new person comes in with a bee in their bonnet about enforcing the code and things the previous inspector had no problem with are now giant issues which have led to 3 facilities having to essentially shut down and move out of town and everyone else having to invest serious time, money, and energy to stay operating. 

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JustAndy,

      I can certainly understand what you are getting at.  As an equipment vendor who has equipment in well over 200 distilleries,  I beleive that all rules should be fallowed and the codes met.  So far, non of our equipment has failed inspection.  We have several large stills and mash tuns in distilleries in Canada and Canada seems to have tougher inspectors than the US.  They remind me of the Canadian border patrol guys. They are all business and they are serious.  Anyway, I'm asking these questions because I am starting my own distillery and  distilling school.  I am in a very different position and have a different set of rules than people in municipalities and other counties.  Where I live there are no plumbing or electrical inspections required.  I do not have to get a building permit or any permit at all.   I do not have to use a licensed contractor or be a licensed contractor.  As far as the building goes, the only thing that I have to do is have a perc. test done on the soil for my septic.  So I'm really lucky in that department and I know it and I am very thankful, because I know what many of my customers who have built their distilleries have gone through.   Of course I have the drawback of not being in a high traffic area.  Here is what I had planned to do.  I plan own putting a couple of thousand gallons of GNS and aged spirits that I'm going to use for blending,  in totes in a large 3 sided shed that has an iron cage around the spirits and across the front.  The shed will be very well ventilated naturally.  The locks and security should meet the requirements of the TTB.  This way the totes, which are rated to hold ethanol for storage, should be looked at like above ground fuel tanks.  This shed will probably be 150 yards from the distillery & distilling school.   We will never have over 120 gallons of high proof stored in the distillery.  I will also build racking houses into the sides of the hill.  These  racking houses will be built out of rough sawn oak which is cheap and plentiful here since we have 16 sawmills in our county of 5,000 people.  I don't think that my fire marshell will have any problem with my 3 sided shed.  What do you think?  Just so everyone knows, my racking houses and ethanol storage shed will be over 3/4 of a mile from my closest neighbor.  The guy that I mentioned earlier that had thousands of gallons of ethanol in his distillery with no sprinkler system, is in the middle of no where and the closest structure to his distillery is at least 2 miles away.

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The problem with inspectors is they can be inconsistent. You might pass one year, but still not be to code.  I know when we started our inspector was not fully versed in the codes that applied to distilleries.   If you are not to code then you have the potential to be denied your hazmat permit as they are really the only one who come in and inspect yearly.  If you are in a jurisdiction that doesn't have inspections you can probably get away with it, but it doesn't make it as safe as someone who followed code.  

if you look at having several ibc totes full of GNS, that is a huge hazard.  It would take very little heat to melt the ibc and then you would have about 300 gallons of fuel running across the floor with nothing to stop it.   Think heaven hill Fire.  I can see why there should be spill containment.  If you are starting from scratch it would not be that hard to add it up front and be compliant. 

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Bluefish

 

    My IBC totes are 550 gallon and 750 gallon stainless steel and they have the rating to be used as above ground fuel tanks among other things.  I will be using the plastic totes for spent mash that will be sold to hog farmers. I have large fuel tanks here for one of my other business's and I have never had to have a hazmet inspection for them.  They do meet OSHA requirements though.  We all have to deal with OSHA if we have employees.  As far as anything running across the floor, this is a 3 sided shed we are talking about. If there were a leak from the stainless steel totes. It would just run out onto and into the ground.  Some barrels in a racking house always leak a little.  I have been in several distilleries where they rack their barrels in the same building where distillation takes place.  I have seen barrels leaking all over the floor because the air was too dry in the building.  I would think that 50 barrels of whiskey inside a distillery with a few of them leaking is a hell of a lot more dangerous, than me having 3000 gallons of ethanol stored outdoors in a 3 sided shed inside stainless totes that would never leak.  I have owned manufacturing business's for most of my life.  One involved very dangerous work.  A distillery is just another manufacturing business.  I am all about safety.  

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