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Q & A for Fire Codes on the External Storage of Wood Pallets
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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

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


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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