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Outdoor Pallet Storage - Fire Code
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Nothing is more important to members of the National Wooden Pallet & Container Association (NWPCA) than the safety of their employees, the people who live near their facilities, and first responders.

That’s why the NWPCA members take great care to make sure their facilities are operated safely. The people who work at the facilities we represent live and work in the neighboring community. Many of them, in fact, are involved in firefighting and other public safety efforts.

Model safety codes are stronger when they accurately reflect proven best practices. NWPCA worked with fire safety experts to develop a section of the fire code on outdoor pallet storage that applies specifically to the wood packaging industry to mandate the use of effective safeguarding procedures.

To assist in the adoption process, later this fall, an NWPCA code compliance manual will be available. The manual will outline specific steps that each facility will need to take to comply with the new fire codes, for both the NFPA and ICC code regulations. Each facility should work with their local fire code official to identify any unique circumstances that may require special attention to ensure compliance.

To prepare for the upcoming fire code changes, below is a compilation of common Q&A along with resources and information that industry can use during this fire code development process.

What are the fire codes?

There are two separate bodies that administer building code regulations for the external storage of wood pallets, The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the International Code Council (ICC). Codes are published in the NFPA1 document for NFPA and the International Fire Code (IFC) for ICC.

Which code body applies to me?

Jurisdiction of each code depends on the state and potentially the locality of your facility(s). Click the following link to view the map of which code applies in your state. You will need to consult with your local fire official to determine which code is enforced in your area.

When are they changing?

For the ICC code, the final changes for the 2018 edition of the IFC have been approved and will be published in June of 2017. For NFPA, the NFPA1 committee has accepted the changes, but voting of the full NFPA membership will occur in June of 2017. It is expected that the proposed language will pass the full vote, and be published by year end 2017.

While new versions of the codes may be published, it is up to the state and in some cases, local authority to choose which version: new, existing, or past, that they enforce. It may not be for several years before the authority adopts the newest version. Consequently, ICC states may not see an enforcement of these codes for some time. On the other hand, NFPA states may see enforcement right away, even before the official publishing of the new code. You should consult your local fire official to understand exactly the adoption process.

What is specifically changing?

To this point, only NFPA had code language that regulated the general outdoor storage of wood pallets. It was a highly prescriptive code that limited pile size to height to 15 ft. high and area of 400 square ft. There was no code language for the ICC. Now, both the NFPA and ICC are more performance-based codes that have specific conditions for wood pallet manufacturers and recyclers. Among these conditions are:

  • Each facility maintains a current site plan
  • Each facility maintains a current fire prevention plan
  • Each facility maintains a current security management plan
  • Pallet storage is limited to stacks of 20 ft. high and have a perimeter spacing from important buildings and property lines of 0.75 times the stack height*
*For NFPA jurisdictions, pallet stack piles sizes are limited in one direction to either 60 ft. or 100 ft., depending on the provided spacing.

 

How do I make sure I’m in compliance?

In collaboration with fire code experts, NWPCA is developing a compliance code manual, which should be completed by Fall of 2017. This document will outline the specific steps each facility will need to take to comply with the new fire codes, for both the NFPA and ICC code regulations. NWPCA recommends that each facility work with their local fire code official to identify any unique circumstances that may require special attention to ensure compliance.

NWPCA will also be hosting a regional safety event in Chicago on August 3, 2017, which will include fire code compliance. Attending this event will provide you further opportunity to receive education and talk to experts.

If you would like to consult with an expert on an individual basis, NWPCA recommends the following people:

William Koffel

President, Koffel Associates
8815 Centre Park Drive / Suite 200 /
Columbia, MD 21045
direct 410-540-9008
tel 410-750-2246
fax 410-750-2588
Email
Koffel.com

Robert Davidson

Managing Partner, Davidson Code Concepts
311 Camperdown Court
Easley, SC 29642
tel 732-643-1799 / toll free 888-582-1104
fax 732-982-1001
Email
DavidsonCodeConcepts.com

 

How do the fire codes affect my fire insurance?

The agreed upon terms and conditions for fire insurance coverage are private and voluntary, and are therefore not a required for fire code compliance.

 

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