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sprinkler system / icc classification f1 /nfpa classification oh2 or hh2?


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we have determined that, assuming we stay below storage/use limits, our proposed distillery would be an f1 type use undrr the icc. I am of the opinion that, for purposes of nfpa 13, a distillery is an oh2 hazard. what is the intrrplay between the icc storage limits and the fire sprinkler rules set out in nfpa 30? in other words, if we comply with icc 307.2.2 (storage limits, might be using wrong cite here), we are f1 and seemingly oh2 under nfpa, do we nevertheless have to comply with high hazard sprinkler standards in nfpa 30? we have an old pipe schedule sprinkler system, but fire pro engineer believes we are actually a high hazard for the facility, despite nfpa reference to distilleries and our low storage and use volume, and says we must install an entirely new sprinkler system plus a fire pump, but because the water pressure is low, we can't install a fire pump. so I am unhappy, and I can't say that I am convinced. any thoughts?

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I had a very similar problem and it took forever to deal with. In the end though, I did not have to put in a new system. The fire protection company of the building gave a rating (sorry can't remember precisely what it was but I'll try to find it) to the pipe schedule system stating that it was up to the requirements of nfpa 30. NFPA I do not believe requires you to be H2 but it might require your sprinkler for the 100% storage limit increase to be rated for H2. Strange stuff as I don't remember the NFPA 30 stating anything regarding the rating of the sprinklers, but the fire marshal made sure the sprinklers were H2 even though the space is F1. In theory I got a sign off from him but I don't yet have my local business license so hopefully this doesn't come back up (I got a good to go via email...). Long story short, you need to get the rating of the pipe schedule system, it might be up to code as it is and installing it new will be very expensive. If you haven't signed the lease, I would have the landlord get the rating on the system. I think the landlord should already have this on file (but mine couldn't find it and I wasted 4 months on this). Good luck.

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You have a few issues here, but none are insurmountable. I'd be happy to share more offline if necessary, PM me if you like. For now....

  • You are correct, distilleries are F1.
  • In the International Fire Code, NFPA 400, and OSHA 29 CFR, there are specific exclusions for distilleries that change a lot of things for local fire marshals, fire suppression design people, etc. Without knowing those exclusions, those people tend to trend to what they know. Once they are made aware of those exclusions, many things may change for you.
  • If your water pressure is too low for your system, then a booster pump is definitely required. By way of example, I didn't need a booster pump for our system....we have 55 psi pressure on a 4" municipal feed, which is more than adequate for sprinkling for 6000 sqft of distillery space. However, for the block immediately north of my facility, the water pressure is less than 25 (different municipal supply zone) and in those cases a booster supply pump is required. If your pressure isn't high enough to adequately supply your needs then you'll have to get a pump.
  • Put in or upgrade the sprinkler system....its a no-brainer for a few reasons:

  • Cost per sqft is about $3-4, designed and installed. Not that large an expense considering the safety factors and the overall investment you're about to put into the space as a whole. Even if you're leasing, you can probably make a deal with the property owner for a reduction in rates for a period equal to the value of your sprinkler upgrade.
  • Insurance companies will drastically reduce your coverage rates for having a sprinkler system, sometimes resulting in a system payback of less than 2 years.

All in, you're in a better place to have a proper suppression system than not. I know where you're at from an expense perspective, $'s are tight. But long term, from the value-of-money perspective, sprinklers are a sound investment.


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  • 3 weeks later...

Keep in mind sprinkler system costs vary by location. We were quoted $30k (and $25k for a second opinion) for a system to cover 4500 sf, and only a 5% reduction in our insurance rate - not exactly a drastic savings. We are stubbed in for a sprinkler system to be installed at a later date though, when we have enough inventory to justify such an expense. That said, just because sprinklers aren't required under code doesn't mean it isn't a good idea to put them in if it is within your budget - just like everything else.

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  • 3 months later...

I went through this exercise recently. Most fire marshals do not know anything about distillery requirements and, therefore, go for the most conservative solution (for their own protection). You need to educate them on the actual requirements. I did two things: hired a consulting engineer to work with my architect on the code and hired a fire suppressant engineer. The consulting engineer said that sprinklers will do nothing (except reduce insurance rates) because fire is not the problem...there will be an explosion before a fire ever takes hold. Also, while most states and municipalities have been adopting the International Building Codes, some overlay their own, more stringent, requirements. For instance, in Massachusetts, any building 7,000 s.f. or greater requires that the entire building have sprinklers - not just the distilling or aging warehouse area. Also, the water pressure for was not sufficient for a my building size but if I eliminated about 2,000 s.f., it was. The other option was a pressure booster pump at a quoted price of $30,000, $50,000 installed. At one point, the town was talking about 'remediation' - me paying to upgrade the water line coming to my building - estimated cost: $300,000. Was not a pleasant exercise.

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  • 4 weeks later...

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