Storage Racking Systems – A building & fire compliance dilemma
Installing new racking systems, changing existing layouts to existing systems or undertaking vertical extensions can potentially affect a buildings’ compliance status. It is possible that owners with unconsented new or altered storage systems may find themselves in difficulty with their insurers, their landlords and the local authority.
In the past year we have had multiple requests from building owners, lessees and managers with regard to new racking systems or altered systems installed within the past few years without any building consent and associated fire protection compliance review.
Within the Building Code C clause ‘Protection from Fire’, buildings that contain storage e.g. warehouses, temperature controlled stores, etc. are categorised by storage height. In Building Code terms the storage height governs the type of fire protection systems required to achieve Building Code compliance. Exceeding the storage height threshold affects the building’s compliance status and building owners can find themselves in difficulty with their Territorial Authority. For sprinkler protected buildings this may affect the sprinkler standard compliance and will likely affect the ability to issue the next BWOF.
Changes to the racking storage layout may compromise the fire safety design and affect the ability for occupants to safely evacuate the building in the event of a fire.
Our recommendation is to always seek fire safety design advice prior to installing or altering any storage racking systems. It is more cost effective at that stage rather than resolving post site work. If this has occurred a process of a certificate of acceptance can often be undertaken to resolve matters.