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Sprinkler company said 'We do not want to do a distillery'


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I was just getting quotes in case it came down to not being able to convince the fire marshal that the codes show that I am F1, OH2, and my low quantities will not put me into H or 'extra hazard' that require sprinklers for phase 1 of our distillery..

Not only did they say they were not interested they said they estimated it would be $50-75k to do it... WTF?

Details:

-40x70 free standing 2-story block building

-3880 finished square feet, 1700 of mezzanine that some of which will be used as barrel storage, all 2nd story office/mezzanine is concrete over steel

-Total of about 5500 square feet.

-No other occupant.

-We own it.

-60 gallon stripping still

-15 gallon spirit still

-expect to store a few hundred gallons in barrels

I know some have written here before about the 'small cost of $3-4/ft is worth it', but I fail to see that applying in my case... I have other requests out, and I guess I will have to lie about the intended use of the building...

(edit: it was http://www.waynefire.com, and they have several locations, they appear not to be a small company)

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That price suggests you don't already have a water main coming into your location that is large enough for the sprinkler system. Adding a new fire water main can cost $25K to $50K on its own, depending on where you have to go to get the source water.

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No way they knew if there was water or not, but I am in 'Downtown Core' so it should not be far to get the water, I gave him type of building and square footage glad that company was 30 miles away, so the closest company had not responded, therefore had not heard me use the D word yet, and they won't... I will use the W word, warehouse...

Thanks John, however http://www.sprinklertechnologydesign.com/ doesn't do FL yet...

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Anyone ever install their own? I mean, if you are capable enough of making good whiskey, and you have played with tinker toys and have installed a couple lawn sprinklers and plumbed natural gas to code and gotten approval the first time out, it is not rocket science, right? (especially if it is just a small system fed by domestic water within a 2 hour wall) Would I trust my life and my business to it? You bet! Much more so than the work of a disinterested party! I think I will have as much expense, time and experienced effort and licensing in a few 5-gallon barrels of whiskey as they do for installing a couple dozen sprinkler heads and piping them... and I am not getting $50-75k for my effort... We all know it is more important to watch your distilling system than it is to have a sprinkler system (that will do NOTHING to stop 'explosions') Yes, I am just ranting... lets see what the others that are quoting my 'warehouse space' or 'brewery' come back with... Thanks for letting me rant!

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I will just throw this out and I am sure some one will correct me if I am wrong. Water will not put out an alcohol fire it will only spread it out. If you are having to sprinkle the building for general reasons and nothing to do with the storage of alcohol then water will work. You need a foam application for alcohol to smother the fire. Water will not work. Coop

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You probably could install your own sprinkler system. But sizing it properly, getting a permit for it, getting it inspected, and getting it approved by the Fire Marshal might prove a little more difficult, as these steps generally require a licensed professional. Also, while you may have total confidence in your work, your insurance company might have a different outlook.

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Coop, ethanol is 100% miscible... you have to add enough water to get it to below 20%... 10 gallons of 40% needs 10 gallons of water and it is no longer a fire hazard...

read this http://distilling.com/PDF/fires.pptx

Jedd, if it passes inspection, the insurance company is happy, like I said I have done gas lines and passed inspection the fists time, and a gas line has similar sizing rules, permitting rules, and way more damage potential a dripping sprinkler joint is not only visible, it won't blow up your building)...... Finally. the cost of a single is more than I expect to make my first full year or two in business... overspending on startup is an easy way to go under in a business.. same reason I am not starting off with a $250,000 distilling system...

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Doubt in an urban area you could ever install it yourself. Most fire marshall's require that a professional fire engineer design the system and certifies that it meets code requirements. That is another part of the cost, the design and paperwork that goes with it. And then there is the alarm system that goes with it. Etc.

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Another building is not really an option, since we own it, and it is in the ideal location with tourism, foot traffic, proximity to 2 breweries, building height etc... people come up to us nearly every day and say what a great location it will be.. To be honest, not building the distillery and keeping it as a workshop to store tools and toys is actually more feasible... Just amazes me that we live in a society that someone is scared enough of being sued (my assumption) to not do work that would be inspected and certified by the city..

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Clear Water,

I understand your frustrations, getting a business like this off the ground is more than just tough, its exhausting, frustrating, and so very expensive. However, trust me when I say that you need to focus your efforts toward your strengths of making, distributing and selling hooch. You don't need to be figuring out code for a sprinkler system - either pay a professional to do it, or don't do it.

With respect, if you install your own sprinkler system, without proper design, line sizing, code application, and the other rigorous details that require a proper operating system you can ensure yourself that I won't ever enter your facility. If you choose that level of recklessness in something so important, I can only imagine what your choices will be otherwise.

I know where you're at. We've all been there. Tired, low on funds, and so ready to just be done with the construction and making hooch. We've all looked at things like you've been suggesting in this thread. But please take a deep breath, look at your available choices, and make good ones. "Overspending on a startup" is the least of your worries if you make poor decisions before you startup.

Please don't take this as a flame-war or troll, I honestly want you to succeed, but you need to do it right. Unless you have a P.E., you can't do what you're suggesting correctly.

Cheers.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Your money would probably be better spent hiring a fire protection engineer to develop a written plan for your specific operations and your building. If you strictly follow the code for F1 occupancy, you should be fine with your building inspector, and an official plan from an outside expert will go a long ways towards helping the inspector understand that.

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