As the consumer continues to move away from the high street, impacting the UK retail property market, distribution centres are evolving into huge large-volume order fulfilment premises with multi bay racking, mezzanines and narrower isles to utilise every square inch.
The warehouse market has doubled in the last 10 years. In 2018, the third largest number of warehouse transactions took place with the average new build warehouse now reaching 300,000 square feet. Market specialists are projecting an additional requirement for at least 44million square feet in the UK by 2021**.
Alpine Fire Engineers have also experienced growth, in excess of 30% in 2018 as they continue to support the sector and the new challenges that are being presented.
The demand and availability in key arterial locations is resulting in ground-breaking thinking to maximise the use of precious land banks held by developers. In a bid to offer new and innovative ways to keep up with increasing delivery volumes in shorter time periods, one provider, Gazeley, is to offer its clients a multi deck, 3-storey warehouse which is the first of its kind. The facility will comprise 426,000 square feet of space over the three levels, allowing for either multiple or single customer occupancy.
As buildings become more complex with high density racking and automation the risk for property and life safety due to fire is increased. A mechanical fire suppression system is an active method of protection and is often a requirement of insurers and building control to mitigate that risk. The most commonly used consists of a water supply and pipework distribution system with strategically positioned sprinkler heads. Fire sprinkler systems are extensively used worldwide, with over 40 million sprinkler heads fitted each year. Key industry facts are that there has been no loss of life in a fire where the property has had sprinklers installed and in buildings with 100% protection, 96% of fires were controlled by the sprinklers alone. A sprinkler system can be linked to a fire alarm remaining on standby 24/7 and whilst the reduction of risk is the most compelling factor, insurance premiums can often be dramatically reduced and the loss to trade minimised, even after activation.
One system does not suit all types of warehouse; therefore, it is essential to choose the right level of protection such as a roof-only system, in-rack sprinklers or both. It is also imperative that consideration to the ongoing use of the storage facility is thought through to ensure positions of sprinklers and likelihood of changing layouts is planned. In-rack sprinklers systems are most effective when careful thought is given to the goods to be stored, type and size, in addition to the shelving specification to ensure water can pass through if required.
Steven Nanda, Alpine’s CEO, states ‘… Alpine work extremely hard to keep pace with our customers. Our latest projects involved extreme height solutions and have demanded that we use the latest in VR and BIM system design technology. This use of technology, ensures we are able to integrate and co-ordinate with other services, reduce on site challenges and deliver on time and to budget for our customers…’
Alpine Fire Engineers have unrivalled experience in the Logistics and Distribution sector delivering highly integrated bespoke fire protection solutions. With regulatory reforms, various insurance requirements, numerous design standards and a constantly evolving service sector it is vital that a project is supported and commissioned by an accredited company.
Alpine are an LPC level 4 accredited company which ensures that their clients receive accurate, up-to-date and invaluable information at whatever stage of the process it is required. The Project Engineering team, who are fully conversant with both LPC BS EN 12845 and FM Global specifications, engage early to support their customers from the initial planning stage right through to interpreting employer’s requirements. They will also comfortably liaise directly with insurers to ensure design standards and specifications are met whilst delivering a cost effective and high-performance solution to mitigate their customers risk.
As important as the design and commissioning is the ongoing planned maintenance and testing of the system by appropriately trained personnel or certified companies as noted by the LPCB guidelines.
Alpine directly employs a nationwide team of highly skilled Service Engineers who will inspect automatic fire suppression systems as part of a planned and preventative maintenance regime, which is vital to ensure deployment and optimal performance when the system is needed. Planned maintenance schedules are tailored to the needs of each site ensuring that the requirements of LPCB 1048 guidelines and those of the insurers are met.
Alpine provide specific sprinkler training and awareness courses for employees, delivered at the site where they work, with programmes to suit each business and complement our planned maintenance products.