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Bulk storage of wood pellets
2

Bulk storage of wood pellets

Bulk storage of wood pellets

(OP)
We want to store a large amount of wood pellets in bulk, inside a 30,000 sq ft building and would like some input about how to interpret IBC 2006:

a) Is bulk storage at heights above 12 ft considered high-pile storage?  This may be a dumb question but when reviewing the requirements in IBC (which calls IFC), they seem to have been written not for bulk storage. There is also some references online that categorize bulk storage different from pile storage, shelf storage and palletized storage.

b) If my storage area is larger than 12,000 sq ft, seems that I am required to sprinkler the building (either high-pile storage or F-1 occupancy will require so). Is there any consideration I can use to avoid the need of sprinklers, considering that I don't have water available an the building is in a remote area?

c) If I divide the building is fire areas smaller than 12,000 sq ft by using fire barriers and overhead fire doors, does the non-combustible building itself needs to be fire-resistant?

Thanks

RE: Bulk storage of wood pellets

2
Based on the requirements of the 2006 IFC and IBC you are required to provide automatic sprinkler protection based on the fire area of your building and its occupancy classification. My response to your questions will assist you in how I came to this conclusion.

Answer to (a): Storage over a height of 12 feet constitutes high-piled combustible storage based on the definition in IFC Section 2302.1. Based on the criteria in IFC Chapter 23, storage of wood pellets over a height of 12 feet would be classified as a Class III commodity. If the pellets have been chemically modified, this could change the commodity classification. If the storage height is maintained < 12 feet, the requirements in IFC Chapter 23 are not applicable.

Answer to (b): IFC/IBC Chapter 9 require automatic sprinkler protection once your fire area exceeds 12,000 square feet. One option to avoid this is to construct a fire wall in accordance with IBC Section 705. A fire wall allows to treat the single structure as a separate building (see IBC Section 705.1). In your case a minimum 3-hour wall be required. Unfortunately for you or your client, the building area is driving the sprinkler protection. If you were to divide the building into a 12,000 square foot and 18,000 square foot area with a fire wall, you would still be required to provide sprinkler protection in the 18,000 square foot fire area because it exceeds the area threshold in IFC/IBC Section 903.2.8.

Answer to (c): Probably not. You need to evaluate the location of the building in relation to the property lines and its allowable area requirements in Chapter 5 to see if a noncombustible building of this occupancy classification with the specified area is allowed. Based on the requirements in IBC Table 503 it appears your ok from a basic building construction standpoint.

 

RE: Bulk storage of wood pellets

(OP)
Just to clarify the first answer, loose bulk storage is considered high-piled storage, right?

But moving forward in the analysis, and assuming the limitation is imposed to a maximum of 12 ft high, the building will still have an S-1 occupancy (storage of a combustible material although also loadout activity), and again, if the area is more than 12,000 sq.ft, it needs sprinklers. Is that right?

Is there any consideration to how ignitable is the product? For instance, if I store green wood (wet wood, 50% moisture), would the requirement be the same as for paper?  

RE: Bulk storage of wood pellets

Garfio:

High piled storage requirements in Chapter 23 are driven by height and the commodity classification, which is based on the heat release rate and burning rate of the material. The method of storage is not relevant. If your storage is 12 feet or greater, it's classified as High Piled Combustible Storage.

Based on the fact your fire area is > 12K square feet, automatic sprinkler protection is required.

Your product's moisture content may be a possible means of not requiring sprinkler protection - however, that's the decision of the jurisdiction's fire code official. It's highly doubtful that a code official would accept moisture content as a basis for eliminating automatic sprinkler protection. In the eyes of the code, your green wood could be replaced the following day with paper and to mitigate the fire risk, based on the building's area and occupancy classification, an automatic sprinkler system is required.

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