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Sprinkler Protection Criteria for Exposed Expanded Group A Plastics Project Summary Background NFPA 13, Standard for

the Installation of Sprinkler Systems, has limited information regarding protection criteria for Exposed Expanded Group A plastic commodity stored on racks. There is an important present need for protection criteria for this type of commodity, since it presents a significant fire hazard and is stored in many warehouse and retail buildings. At the 2008 meeting of the Foundations Automatic Sprinkler Research Planning Council, this topic was identified as an area where additional research is needed to inform provisions of NFPA 13. At the Councils 2011 meeting, the topic was identified at or near the top of the priority list of projects with a particular focus on results needed for the next edition of the Standard. Although there is a broad range of criteria needed, the particular focus of this project was rack storage of this commodity with protection solutions which do not involve in rack sprinklers, to improve the flexibility of this storage protection configuration. Previous testing by Viking Corporation in Europe showed successful performance with ceiling only K19 sprinkler protection at 40-50 psi design pressure for 40 foot storage of actual mixed commodity (candles, foam slabs, cardboard boxes) in a non standard rack configuration with vertical barriers interspersed in the rack at approximately 20 foot on center.

Research Objective To develop cost effective sprinkler protection criteria for rack storage of exposed expanded Group A plastic commodity with a particular focus on ceiling only protection.

Project Execution A Project Technical Panel was formed and met four times during 2012 to develop a proposed test plan and review and revise that plan during the course of its conduct. Project Technical Panel Ken Linder, Swiss Re (Chair NFPA Sprinkler System Discharge Criteria Technical Committee) Rich Pehrson, (International Fire Marshals Association) Jason Huczek, Southwest Research Institute John Denhardt, Strickland Fire Protection Steve Wolin, Code Consultants, Inc. Matt Klaus, NFPA Staff Liaison Project Contractor Underwriters Laboratories Dan Steppan, Kerry Bell Project Sponsor Representatives IKEA - Tom Pedersen, Jan Lagerblad Viking Sprinkler Scott Franson Reliable Sprinkler Tom Multer Tyco Fire and Building Products James Golinveaux XL Insurance Pete Willse Property Insurance Research Group Rich Gallagher (Zurich Insurance) P&G - Christina Francis Target Karen Rebman Aon Insurance Tom Lentz

Discussion of Results

In total, six full scale tests were conducted with various combinations of ceiling and commodity height, horizontal transverse flue space blocking, placement and type of vertical barriers, sprinkler type, and ignition location. All tests used standard exposed expanded Group A plastic commodity (expanded polystyrene meat trays) stored in

plastic bags and resting on two-way entry, hardwood pallets). With the horizontal blocking of transverse flue spaces, the length of the main storage arrays was extended beyond the normal 32 ft. to obtain useful data relative to evaluating the potential for horizontal travel of fire to the extremities of the test array. Table 1 summarizes the test parameters and the test results. A fully detailed test report has been prepared by UL LLC and is available on the Foundations website. Innovative testing methods were used to conserve the costly standard expanded plastics commodity. Two of the six tests conducted met the pre established criteria of prevention of fire spread to the end of the array or to the target array. (All of the tests met the pre established criteria for peak steel temperature above the ignition source.) The following observations were made during the test program which may inform future work: Vertical barriers in the commodity had a significant positive impact by limiting the horizontal spread of fire along the commodity array. Both non combustible and combustible (3/8 plywood) barriers demonstrated the ability to maintain their integrity during the fire test series. The fire in the main test bay breached at least one of the vertical barriers placed closest to the ignition location in each test by travelling around the barrier at the aisle face where the commodity extended approximately 4 inches beyond the face of the barriers. However, the horizontal progress of the fire down the length of the racks was delayed by the barriers and helped enable the sprinkler system to control the fire spread. The horizontal blocking of transverse flue spaces reduced the ability of the sprinkler system to effectively discharge water into the blocked flue spaces and limit the horizontal travel of fire. 8 foot aisle widths were a significant factor in the prevention of aisle jump in the first four tests; a wider aisle width (as used in the previous European test series) may have a further positive effect. In the tests where aisle jump occurred, the sprinkler activation pattern contributed to fire spread across the aisle. Other variables observed to significantly impact the performance of the protection scheme include: o sprinkler type which influenced penetration in the commodity and activation sequence; o ceiling height and clearance to the commodity which did not influence actuation time significantly but did influence water penetration and number of operated sprinklers; and o ignition location relative to the sprinklers, which significantly influenced activation pattern and fire control.

Potential Future Studies Future protection options which may be explored are lower storage and ceiling heights, larger aisle widths, reduced transverse flue space blocking, a more limited set of exposed expanded Group A plastic commodities, and other protection schemes including the option of a single horizontal barrier within the rack with enhanced in-rack sprinkler protection at one level immediately below the barrier.

Table 1. Test Parameters and Results

FIRE TEST NUMBER Test Date Storage Type Commodity Type Pallet Type Vertical Barriers Horizontal Blocking of Transverse Flues in Main Array (noncombustible) Length of Main Storage Array, ft. Nominal Storage Height, ft. Ceiling Height, ft. Nominal Clearance, ft. Aisle Width, ft. Ignition Location Sprinkler Systems Sprinkler Orientation Deflector to Ceiling, in.
Sprinkler Spacing, sprinkler by branchline ft. by ft.
16 ft. on center Main Array (Noncombustible)
18 flues inside vertical barriers

Test 1
July 9, 2012

Test 2
July 13, 2012

Test 3
July 18, 2012

Test 4
July 25, 2012

Test 5
October 31, 2012

Test 6
November 8, 2012

Test Parameters Double Row Rack Exposed Expanded Group A Plastic

(Bagged Meat Trays on Hardwood Pallets)

2 way entry, stringer, hardwood

16 ft. on center - Main Array (Noncombustible)
12 flues inside vertical barriers None at uprights

16 ft. on center - Main Array (Noncombustible)

72 flues - None at the uprights and vertical barriers

20 ft. on center - Main Array (Noncombustible)

60 flues - None at the uprights and vertical barriers

24 ft. on center - Main Array (3/8 in. plywood)

98 flues - None at the uprights and vertical barriers

16 ft. on center Main Array (3/8 in. plywood)

60 flues - None at the uprights and vertical barriers

32 20 40 20

32 20 40 20

56 35 40 5

68 30 35 5

56 40 45 5

56 30 40 10

8 Between 2 Sprinklers (offset) Under 1 Sprinkler (offset) Ceiling Only (no in-rack sprinklers) Pendent 14 10 by 10 212 22.4 1.58 50 214 25.2 1.95 60 Test Results 214 25.2 1.95 60 212 ESFR 16.8 1.19 - 0.99
50 psig first 6 sprinklers then 35 psig for remainder of operating sprinklers

Temperature Rating, F Sprinkler Type

Nominal Sprinkler Discharge Coefficient K, gpm/psig 0.5

214 25.2 1.95 60

214 25.2 1.95 60

Nominal Discharge Density, gpm/ft2 Nominal Discharge Pressure, psig

Length of Test, minutes First Sprinkler Operation Time, min:sec Last Sprinkler Operation Time, min:sec Number of Operated Sprinklers
Peak Gas Temperature at Ceiling Above Ignition, F Maximum 1 minute Average Gas Temperature at Ceiling Above Ignition, F Peak Steel Temperature at Ceiling Above Ignition, F Maximum 1 minute Average Steel Temperature at Ceiling Above Ignition, F

31 0:39 8:23 12 564 255 126 124

None Yes (East and West end of Main)

31 0:44 3:21 6 558 220 119 117

None Yes (West end of Main)

31 0:52 1:45 10 1138 353 145 141


31 0:47 2:44 16 1163 496 164 164


31 0:47 1:39 18 1002 489 160 156

1:01 (North Target)
Yes (North Target Array Burned Through to Extremities)

31 0:48 4:35 11 241 151 129 127

1:27 (South Target)
Yes (South Target Array Burned Through to Extremities)

Ignition Time of Target Array, minutes:seconds Fire Travel to Extremities of Test Array