Daniel Steppan of Underwriters Laboratories and Ivar Fjeldheim, product manager of Autostore, discussed a series of four fire tests to determine the effectiveness of a density/area ceiling sprinkler system to control burning plastic bins and cartons in a vertical racking configuration.
The presentation was part of the Fire Protection Research Foundation symposium being held this week in Orlando.
The tests looked at the storage set-up at AutoStore, which uses robots to collect bins from a tightly packed storage rack constructed of aluminum components. Because people do not normally access the storage area, the probability for unintentional or intentional ignition caused by personnel is considered low. But design challenges, from a fire suppression standpoint, include bins that have solid bottoms that are not permeable to water, and narrow flue spaces that would limit the amount of water from sprinklers that could reach the seat of the fire.
The objectives of the fire tests was to develop an efficient sprinkler protection concept that could supress a fire at an early stage and protect the building, limit fire spread and damage, anda determine the most effective manual fire-fighting and post fire mitigation strategy.