The world of a fire protection engineer is moving more quickly than ever before. Property insurance carriers are upgrading their compliance standards constantly. This affects everyone attached to commercial and industrial facilities – from designers and architects, down to property owners and the businesses using the property. Standards change, and businesses can be required to change with them. This occurred recently to a client of ours.

A Simple Industrial Facility Upgrade Faces New Fire Protection Engineering Standards

A client came to us when they experienced headwinds on an upgrade job. The facility had rack storage and all the requisite fire protection. But, when they tried to add more storage racks, they bumped up against their insurance carrier’s new fire protection specifications. The newly revised specs stipulated an altogether different solution. It seemed they would be required to gut the old system and bear significant costs to install a new one.

We went back to the carrier and advocated on our client’s behalf. For one, our client was adding to an existing situation, as opposed to creating a new structure. We reasoned that if the existing racks were protected adequately, we could certainly protect the additional new racks under the same guidelines, sustaining an adequate degree of fire protection. There was no need to apply the new protection standards in the case of adding more of the same racks. The carrier listened to our reasoning and conceded the point.

Insurance carriers make recommendations based on their latest testing and research. The organization continuously siphons this information into its most recent standards to gain maximum protection on their insured properties. Those recommendations are based on reducing hazards to the absolute smallest amount possible. With all the radical and exciting changes occurring these days, they can overlook your specific situation.

They may be correct in what they are asking for from a technical point of view, but, as fire safety consultants, we ask the additional question: “Can the recommendations be implemented efficiently?” As consultants, we look at fire protection from your point of view. We consider probability, practicality, and cost, advocating on your behalf based on what is realistic and achievable.

By Jeff Harrington, CEO and Founder of Harrington Group, Inc.