High Storage of Foam Bars in Unheated Spaces – Part 3 – Proposed Plan

Author: Bishoy Awad, Ph.D


As previously noted in our earlier sections, the storage of foam bars in unheated spaces presents numerous challenges to the fire protection sector. Despite the emergence of various fire protection technologies and innovations over the past decades, this issue remains unresolved. Given the historical challenges faced in this industry, research and testing have consistently played a pivotal role in recognizing fire hazards, experimenting with diverse solutions, and providing findings to underwriters for the development of codes and standards.


In 2012, the National Fire Protection Research Foundation conducted a study focusing on safeguarding a double-row rack setup containing exposed Group A plastics that extended up to a storage height of 40 feet. This study involved the installation of vertical barriers within the primary rack storage array. However, it’s important to note that the experiments were constrained by specific conditions, including a maximum ceiling height of 45 feet, the use of ESFR sprinklers, and the application of a wet fire suppression system.

Given that ESFR and CMSA sprinkler heads are not permitted in dry fire suppression systems according to NFPA 13 guidelines, there arises a need for further research to explore fire protection alternatives in this context. The primary objective of this article is to pinpoint an alternative solution tailored for unheated warehouse areas boasting ceiling heights of up to 50 feet. This alternative solution should strike a balance between cost-effectiveness and the provision of adequate fire protection measures.

Tentative research plan

In the initial phase of the project, it is crucial to conduct a comprehensive literature review to gain a deep understanding of the issue and accurately identify the gap in research. Following this, data must be gathered from industry peers and reputable sources to ascertain the typical ceiling and storage heights found in similar warehouse settings. Manufacturers who are interested in this endeavour can suggest various technologies, which can then undergo testing and scrutiny by certification experts. Such an accomplishment has the potential to bring about a groundbreaking advancement for both the market and the fire engineering community. It could enable greater storage capacity (increased storage space availability) and reduced energy consumption (both environmentally sustainable and cost-effective).

Wrapping up

Fire protection of foam and plastics against fire has been a central concern for fire protection engineers and research organizations over an extended period. The primary objective within this industry is to establish a suppression system that is both safe and cost-effective. In line with the market’s objectives and a growing emphasis on energy conservation, particularly in North America, the development of an alternative solution for safeguarding exposed Group A plastics in unheated spaces with high storage and ceiling heights holds the potential to benefit manufacturers and building owners significantly. Such an innovation can reduce unnecessary heating demands while simultaneously ensuring fire protection and optimizing storage space utilization.

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