In late November, Steel Dynamics Safety Coordinator Timothy Vanlandingham wrote a letter to San Patricio County Fire Marshal Steve Loving requesting a variance from the International Fire Code for its fire suppression system for the high rack storage within its warehouse.
The SDI warehouse in question is a 99,000 square foot building that stores various mechanical parts and supplies to support the operation of the steel mill currently under construction at the SDI location in Sinton.
According to SDI, that warehouse contains a concrete enclosed office (approximately 1,000 square feet) that has a full coverage sprinkler system and has a fire detection system incorporated into the office space.
The current high rack system that has been constructed within the warehouse is approximately 25 feet high and 10 feet wide, with five levels of two-sided racks, approximately 240 feet long giving them 36,000 square feet of storage.
A letter from Loving back to Vanlandingham read, “The original design of the storage rack system did not exceed the 15-foot limit that would require an auto sprinkler system. By your measurements the current height of the storage rack system within the warehouse or storage area is approximately 25 feet in height. The measurement classifies the storage as high pile and requires an auto sprinkler system. The original design of the building as it was built did not provide for an auto sprinkler system and would require extensive reconstruction and modifications in order to establish the required auto sprinkler system.”
SDI provided a quick fix to the issue by providing seven 150 pound wheeled fire extinguishers stationed strategically in and around the storage rack system. They also put in seven strategically placed pre-connected fire hoses that should provide 140 gallons per minute should a fire break out.
Loving said the system is similar to a standpipe system seen in hotels and high rise buildings where an external water source could be attached to the system to increase the volume of gallons per minute for extended firefighting operations.
He added that the design and plan would also allow for reduced damage to unaffected supplies.
“At this point, after coming to that compromise with that plan, it does provide significant fire protection without an automatic sprinkler system, which the original code does require,” Loving said. “At this time I believe it would provide sufficient fire protection and assist firefighters even more so with an automatic sprinkler system.”
Shortly there after, commissioners reappointed Loving as the county fire marshal and thanked him for all the work he’s done.
“You work very well in San Patricio County and let us know what’s going on and we’re very proud to have you as our fire marshal,” Judge David Krebs said. “I’m glad to see that the commissioners court has recommended that you be reappointed and we look forward to working with you again as we go along. Thank you for your hard work.”