Unsprinklered Coolstore/Freezer

Learned People. A client has asked if it is remotely feasible to consider constructing a 10 metre height coolstore/freezer without a sprinkler system. Polypanel construction. Obviously this is outside the scope of the acceptable solutions and also of my capabilities. It is a starter? Or a complete waste of time? There are property boundary issues to two sides, but there is a good (reportedly) water supply in the vicinity. There are a number of other similar buildings in the area, some sprinklered and some not. I know this is a “how long is a piece of string” question but I do not want to steer him to an appropriate fire engineer if it is not even a starter. Does this make sense?

Tim, Without knowing who your client is, what the value of the building and it’s contents is, and who they use to insure their risk, can I suggest you ask them to talk to their insurance and risk advisors first

The insurance market is somewhat nervous about EPS at the moment, and they may have issues obtaining cover with an unprotected EPS risk

Chris, I have told him that repeatedly. He seems to be of the opinion that the premium benefits are minimal.

Hi Tim
Why would you ever contemplate installing sprinklers into a cold store? The ratio of the value of the stored goods to the value if the cold store is about 7:1, and all of the stored goods (assuming that they are food products) will be automatically dumped whether sprinklers are/are not installed.
If the client is a contract cold store, with bailee’s only insurance for the stored goods, then the insurance premium will determine as to whether sprinklers are viable or not. Currently, any reduction in premium does not justify sprinklers, but as Chris says, if the store is EPS, the insurance placement may become problematic.
There are dozens of cold stores in NZ that are not sprinkler protected, and a fair number that are sprinkler protected. If the client does not want to install sprinklers, and wants to use EPS, I suggest you give me a call on 021 990 736. There a number of items that need to be included in the fire safety design to decrease the level of nervousness held by the underwriters, and often I will get them on board in the developed design stage to ensure that they understand the relevant risks. Incidentally, a dry pipe sprinkler system has a reliability factor of < 90%, so please don’t suppose that sprinklers in a cold store will even function, let alone control the fire.

Paul Clements

Thanks Chris and Paul. Two opposing views.

No Tim, not opposing.

I know Paul’s thinking well, and agree to a level. He employed us on one project to put the case to the Underwriters…

My comment was to tread lightly as you’d may find that if you don’t communicate with the he underwriters early, the building may be uninsurable.

The other thing you need to watch is that if you give advice ina soft market, things may change when the market hardens, as it has now. I am aware of a few building owners who now have issues, which I can’t expand on

My senior partner did his ME(fire) research paper on Polypanel buildings, you may find it useful.

Thanks Robert, I have read that. will do so again. Thanks to all for your help.

Hi Tim,

I’ve done a good few of these. The issues you’ll come across are fire rating to the boundary (eps panel has no rating and PIR panel requires fire rated structure and 240 insulation) and of course the firefighting requirements (if you’ll exceed the 20TJ limit at under 3000 sq m).