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Issue Brief: ICC Outdoor Pallet Storage Fire Code
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History & Background

In 2013, the NWPCA learned a 'simple' proposal was submitted to modify the international fire code developed by the International Fire Code Council (ICC). The document proposed a new section that would cover the outdoor storage of pallets.

Unfortunately, that proposal wasn’t simple, and it would have severe negative implications for our industry. The ICC is one of two major organizations that develops building and fire codes that are enforced by state, county, and city officials and fire marshals. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is the other leading code development organization.

Since 2013, NWPCA worked together with fire safety experts and industry to develop sections in the fire codes that address outdoor pallet storage. Those revised fire codes of the ICC and NFPA take effect in 2018.

Fire Code COmpliance

In early January 2018, the National Wooden Pallet and Container Association (NWPCA) released a free industry resource publication, “NWPCA Fire Code Compliance Manual for Outdoor Storage of Wood Pallets.” The manual was produced to assist industry in compliance with the new outdoor pallet storage provisions incorporated in the 2018 International Fire Code (IFC) Section 2810 of the International Code Council, and NFPA 1, Section 34.10.4 of the National Fire Protection Association that were approved in 2017.

NWPCA worked closely with fire safety and code experts, and hosted several forums for NWPCA members to share safety experiences. All input received led to the development of this comprehensive resource guide. “The revised sections of the 2018 fire code for both the International Code Council (ICC) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), accurately reflect proven best practices for pallet manufacturing and pallet recycling facilities,” commented Dr. Brad Gething, NWPCA Director of Science & Technology Integration. Previously, NFPA stipulated strict prescriptive requirements for outdoor pallet storage for all facilities storing pallets, where ICC had no existing language. The new code language for both codes distinguishes between pallet manufacturers and recyclers and other facilities, and prioritizes a performance-based approach that emphasizes best operating practices. There are four aspects to this approach:

  • Site Plan
  • Fire prevention plan
  • Fire emergency response plan
  • Security plan.

In addition, storage stipulations consistent between the new ICC and NFPA codes are as follows:

  • 20 ft. maximum pile height
  • Spacing from an important structure is 0.75 time the pile storage height
  • Spacing from the property line is 0.75 time the pile storage height.

Recently, Dr. Gething and fire code expert and President of Koffel Associates, Bill Koffel, hosted a webinar underlying the new 2018 fire codes on the outdoor storage of wood pallets at manufacturing and recycling facilities. In the webinar, the presenters highlight the importance of taking a proactive approach to working with the fire officials who inspect facilities, and then provide detailed information on the codes and how the Compliance Manual will aid in code adoption. Additionally, included in the webinar is a Q&A portion answering your questions such as: “How does the NFPA codes apply to storage and units of raw materials?” and “What is the max height of storage of recycled pallets?”

NWPCA's 2017 Chair, Shane Thompson, WestWind Logistics said, “By implementing the guidelines outlined in the fire code compliance manual, industry is taking a significant and proactive step to ensure its pallet facilities are operating under proven best practices.” The “NWPCA Fire Code Compliance Manual for Outdoor Storage of Wood Pallets” is a key component in NWPCA’s effort to bring the entire industry into compliance with the new codes to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those who work and provide fire safety for the industry.

>>> Link to Outdoor Pallet Storage Code Compliance Resource Materials and Updates
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