You might not see or hear about warehouse fires all that often, but believe it or not, they’re far more common than you might think. During the five-year period between 2007 and 2011, U.S. fire departments responded to about 1,270 fires in warehouse properties on average per year, according to the National Fire Protection Association. These fires caused an annual average of $188 million in direct property damage, 23 civilian injuries, and four civilian fatalities.
Just in the past couple of weeks, a number of warehouse fires erupted across the nation.
In Georgia, firefighters spent all night on October 15 fighting a fire at a peanut warehouse. Though no one was hurt in the blaze, the fire was as formidable as it was intimidating. According to fire chief Dean King, “As we pulled up to this humongous building, the thought crossed my mind: ‘that’s how David must have felt when we walked up to Goliath.’ How small we really are, when you pull up to a situation like this. It puts it all into perspective.”
In Dallas, a two-alarm fire engulfed and destroyed the 17,000 square foot warehouse of First Choice Pallets on October 16. With flames shooting through the roof, crews attempted to get inside, but the fire was too intense. Eventually, the roof collapsed, and fire crews worked to contain the blaze from the outside. It took four hours to put the fire out, and many more hours to hose down hot spots. Fortunately, no one was hurt in that incident.
In Montana, authorities are investigating a warehouse fire that started on October 14. According to Fire Chief Paul Dextras, the fire at the American Appliance warehouse appeared to have started on the building’s exterior near train tracks, and spread to the roof of the building. No cause has been determined, but there has been an issue with an electrical meter on the side of the building.
With the proper fire protection systems in place, these fires can be prevented.
“Properly designed sprinkler systems are an essential element of general warehouse fire protection,” according to the NFPA. “Other protective measures generally applicable to warehouse properties include automatic alarms to the fire department and building security systems. Pre-fire inspections and planning are recommended in order to identify appropriate protection measures for specific warehouse environments.”