A warehouse that goes up in flames is more than a catastrophic financial loss. It can represent a serious disturbance to a sensitive supply chain. All warehouses should feature a fire sprinkler system that puts out any fires before they can wreak havoc on the contents of a distribution center. However, just as the human immune system can be a little trigger-happy, giving us terrible allergic reactions to innocuous stimuli, fire sprinkler systems can go off when they’re not supposed to, and that’s not good for your inventory, either. What causes these false alarms, and how can we prevent them? Let’s explore how to prevent warehouse fire sprinklers from going off when they shouldn’t.
Keep Sprinklers Away From Normal Heat Sources
It’s not smoke, but heat that sets off sprinkler heads. That heat doesn’t have to come from a fire—it can come from an overhead light bulb that generates too much heat. A bulb that bursts can release stored-up heat and trip the sprinkler, dousing everything in range. If a sprinkler is in proximity to a heating unit that’s working a little too hard, that heat could also lead to the sprinklers going off. Even a skylight on a hot summer day can focus too much energy toward a sprinkler. Be mindful of sprinkler placement and the placement of heat-generating equipment or fixtures. You may want to invest in cooler LED bulbs, too.
Don’t Let the Temperature Drop
Sprinkler systems are the Goldilocks of a warehouse: they don’t like it too hot or too cold. Cold temperatures won’t trip the system, but they can cause trouble. The pipes that feed the heads are always loaded with water, ready to dispense at a moment’s notice. When temperatures plummet due to insufficient heating in the winter, that water turns to ice. As it expands, it can cause pipes to crack or burst, and as the ice melts, it can leak. Insulate your piping properly and ensure that a generator can take over if a power outage threatens your warehouse’s heating during the winter.
Block Off in-Rack Sprinkler Heads
It’s not just extreme temperatures that can send water coursing through the system and all over your warehouse. Impact with a sprinkler head can set them off as well. When your rack systems incorporate sprinkler heads, they’re in a better position to put out fires than they would be if they were running through the ceiling the old-fashioned way. They’re also in a better position to take bumps from forklifts and other equipment. In-rack sprinkler guards are a surefire way to prevent warehouse fire sprinklers from going off at an inopportune time. They won’t block the flow of water, but they will block the crashes that set the water flowing.