High Piled Storage

Updated: Apr 29, 2020

What is high-piled storage and are there special requirements regarding it? What is the

procedure if you want to start stacking freight higher in your warehouse? High-piled storage refers to inventory that is stacked higher than a predetermined height. High-Pile Storage Permits are required for any business implementing high-piled storage. Here is a summary of the general requirements. (source)

When Do You Need a High Piled Storage Permit?

  1. In general, when non-hazardous freight will be stored higher than 12 feet high for an area greater than 500 square feet

  2. In general, when hazardous freight will be stored higher than 6ft high.

  3. When required by the local Fire Marshal or Fire Prevention office.

Please note that even if your situation does not come under points #1 or #2, you still need to satisfy the requirements of the local fire authority. Since this varies from location to location, be sure to research carefully.

Part of the key requirements for application submission is a storage floor plan, elevation plan, and a site plan.  The site plan shows the entire building and surrounding site. Key information to include are: fire exits, fire extinguishers, fire hose drops, sprinkler system data, outside hydrants, and fire access lanes. The floor plan shows the plan view dimensions of the high-piled storage areas, as well as their relation to exit doors and fire access doors. The storage elevation views include the top of storage and the clearance between the top of storage and the sprinklers.

It is simple to realize that much of the concern regarding the specifics of the high-piled storage area revolve around fire safety.  Accordingly, at the time of applying for a permit, specific information about the fire detection and suppression system may be requested.

These could include:

  1. What type of sprinkler system currently exists?

  2. What is the design density per design area of the sprinkler system?

  3. What is the temperature that activates the sprinklers?

  4. Are there smoke detectors?

  5. Are there heat detectors?

  6. What are the plans for smoke removal?

Any of this information may be required when applying for a permit. In addition, most local authorities require multiple copies of both the floor plans, elevation plans, and the sites plans along with the application. Again, this can vary among governing authorities, so it is necessary to check and see if any additional information is required. Another possible requirement may be Evacuation Plans. Be prepared to present the information in the specific format the city prefers it. Plus, remember, if there are changes to the high-pile storage area, there will need to be a new submission. It is best to understand the totality of the initial submission and re-submission process to make the overall long-term procedure easier.

Once you obtain a permit, there are still factors that may require a new or updated submittal in the future. New permit submittals are likely to be required when any substantial changes have been made to the racking system, fire protection system, or the type of commodities stored.

It is understandable that you may want to start stacking and storing upward to maximize your warehouse space. However, it is important to understand the concerns of the local fire authority. The high-piled storage design must be safe overall from a fire safety point-of-view. While it is entirely possible to engineer a system that will fulfill your requirements and increase your productivity, it is prudent to be aware of any permit requirements before you begin. If you look down the road and plan not only for the initial High-Piled Storage Permit, but also the re-permitting procedures thereafter, the whole process should be much smoother in the long run.

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