Forum on Fire Protection Engineering: Challenges in Storage

Forum on Fire Protection Engineering: Challenges in Storage | September 8 - 9, 2022
The Westin Chicago North Shore, 601 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Wheeling, IL
Tour/Fire Test: Underwriters Laboratories, Inc., 333 Pfingsten Rd., Northbrook, IL


Storage facilities, warehouses and distribution centers are among the most challenging occupancies from an overall fire safety perspective and many variables must be considered when designing fire protection systems for such facilities. This 2-day, in-person event will discuss design challenges of storage facilities that interfere with fire suppression and fire alarm systems.

An outstanding panel of experts comes together to share their knowledge and best practices so fire protection engineers, designers, manufacturers, facility owners and managers, and first responders can have confidence that a fire event will be managed properly by applied fire protection systems and fire service response. Topics covered during the event will focus on automated storage, protection of multi-row racks, cold storage design considerations, challenges with sloped ceiling design and protecting storage of special commodities. The speakers will also discuss controversial topics on the newer editions of the prescriptive codes related to storage as well as the challenges from the fire service perspective and the final suppression and extinguishment approaches. Day 2 will start with a large-scale fire test at the nearby Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. in Northbrook, IL and then the day will continue with discussions on changes and challenges associated with installing fire protection systems in such facilities and the challenges associated with fire alarm system.

Several panel discussions are incorporated into the agenda to allow speakers to answer audience questions and offer different perspectives on topics discussed.

Download Schedule Speaker Info

Event Schedule 

DAY 1 – Thursday, September 8 

7:30 AM Onsite Check-In 

8:00 – 8:15 AM 

Welcome and Introductions (William Koffel) 

8:15 – 9:00 AM 

Automatic Storage (Wes Baker) 

Storage within warehouses has been changing over the past decade to allow for material handling of products via the use of robots while at the same time creating storage arrangements that minimize wasted space. This presentation will look at some of the automatic storage systems being used in warehouse environments, what the fire hazards are for these types of systems, full-scale fire testing that has been conducted on them, and the recommendations now offered in FM Global Property Loss Prevention Data Sheet 8-34, Automatic Storage and Retrieval Systems, for these types of storage systems.

9:00 – 9:45 AM 

Protection of Multi-Row Rack (Tracey Bellamy) 

This session will explore the current provisions of NFPA 13, 2022 Edition and FM Data Sheet 8-9, Interim Revision January 2022 related to the protection of multi-row rack arrangements. These provisions of these latest standards include a major change in protection required by previous editions for rack depths greater than 20 ft without internal flue spaces. These changes and their impact on the fire sprinkler system design will be presented and discussed along with along with relevant test data utilized to support the change.

Morning Break (9:45 – 10:00 a.m.) 

10:00 – 10:45 AM 

Special Commodity Storage (John LeBlanc, Christina Francis) 

This session will look at the changing commodities that are showing up in general purpose warehouses. Many of these products are hard to identify and the hazard is not always clear. The two primary commodities that will be looked at are cosmetics and consumer products that represent an ignitable (flammable and/or combustible) liquid hazard and lithium-ion batteries (cell storage through modules for cars) that can represent an ignition hazard up to a lithium-ion battery fire hazard.

10:45 – 11:30 AM 

Expectation gaps between the fire service, the code community, and the fire protection engineering community (John Frank)

Several large warehouse fires will be discussed in the context of expectation gaps between various stakeholders, and how these gaps contributed to major losses. Specific topics will include final extinguishment of complex arrangements such as automatic storage and retrieval systems and multi-tier mezzanines, as well as smoke removal, and impairment management. The presenter will share his experience as a firefighter who was part of a hose team that completed final extinguishment at a fire in a large ASRS that was controlled by four sprinklers. Successful smoke removal from this fire with standard positive pressure ventilation will also be discussed. Existing, but severely underutilized solutions will be discussed, along previously proposed solutions that have yet to be acted on and needed future research.

AutoStore Manual Fire Extinguishment and Disassembly: Firefighting Tactical Considerations (Sean DeCrane)

In 2020 and 2021, UL and AutoStore opened a project to evaluate a potential fire service response to a sprinkler-controlled fire within an AutoStore system. Previous recommendations included the installation of remote master streams with the dismantling of the system to permit access to confirm or complete extinguishment. Due to the extensive damage, business interruption that would be experienced and the risk of injury to the responding fire fighters with this particular approach AutoStore was interested in an alternative approach. UL utilized our strong relationship with the US fire service to bring in five fire service operation subject matter experts. The process began with modest goals and developed over three phases which included the development of a bin removal methodology and a scaled fire scenario and response where fire fighters from various departments deployed and implemented this removal strategy. This presentation will provide an overview of the three phases and include video to demonstrate the developed fire service tactical consideration for a fire service operation for a response to a sprinkler-controlled fire in an AutoStore system.

11:30 – 12:00 PM 

Speakers Panel (Moderated by William Koffel) 

Lunch (12:00 – 1:00 p.m.) 

1:00 – 1:45 PM 

Cold Storage Concepts, Concerns and Lessons Learned (Robert Vincent & Joshua Macke)  

1:45 – 2:30 PM 

Sloped Ceiling (Noah Ryder) 

This presentation will discuss the challenges that a sloped ceiling poses to sprinkler activation and spray patterns. Variables such as the ceiling slope, ceiling & storage height, storage configuration, location of purlins & girders, and other parameters will be covered. Conclusions from the extensive Fire Protection Research Foundation work will be covered along with advances in tools that can assist in assessing the performance of systems.

Afternoon Break (2:30 –2:45 p.m.) 

2:45 – 3:30 PM  

Design Area for K-28 and K-33.6 ESFR (Kerry Bell, Wes Baker, James Golinveaux) 

Historically sprinkler designs where ESFR sprinklers have been used has always included 12 sprinklers as the design area. Many years ago the designs in FM Global Property Loss Prevention Data Sheet 8-9, Storage of Class 1, 2, 3, 4 and Plastic Commodities, introduced designs for ESFR sprinklers that were more than 12 sprinklers, and recently introduced designs that are less than 12. In the 2022 cycle of NFPA 13, proposals were submitted for ESFR sprinklers that would have allowed for designs less than 12 sprinklers. These proposals were not accepted by the Discharge Committee of NFPA 13. This presentation will address why the NFPA 13 Committee voted against introducing designs for ESFR sprinklers that would be less than 12 sprinklers as well as why FM Global has allowed for designs that involve less than 12 sprinklers.

3:30 – 4:45 PM 

Fire Sprinkler Challenges of Future Installation and Protection Criteria (Will Smith, Rodger Reiswig) 

This session will focus on the specific challenges and controversial topics as it relates to storage structures and will review proposals for the 2025 edition of NFPA 72 as well as previous proposals that have been added or rejected for NFPA 72. Initiating devices, notification appliances as well as Mass Notification will be discussed with a major focus on proposed changes, technology direction, and inspection and testing of these systems.

As NFPA 13 has developed over the last few decades, installation requirements and protection criteria have increased in complexity. NFPA 13 has evolved, writing and re-writing protection schemes and design criteria as additional test data have become available. This presentation provides insight to some of the challenges committee members face for the next edition and beyond.

4:45 – 5:00 PM 

Wrap up and Day 2 Overview (William Koffel) 

DAY 2 – Friday, September 9 

7:30 – 7:45 AM 

Transportation to UL 

7:45 – 8:00 AM 

Facility check-in 

8:00 – 10:30 AM 

UL Tour and Fire Test  

10:30 – 11:00 AM 

Transportation back to meeting hotel 

Lunch (11 a.m. – 12 p.m.) 

12:00 – 12:30 PM 

New ESFR Sprinkler Obstruction Requirements - What they are and how to use them (Garner Palenske) 

Early Suppression Fast Response (ESFR) sprinklers are the workhorse of the storage sprinkler protection world. Their quick response and efficiency in delivering water flux to a storage fire distinguish them from other storage sprinklers. Yet, until recently, the effect common obstructions can have on ESFR performance was mostly unknown. This presentation will summarize the scientific basis of the new obstruction requirements for ESFR sprinklers found in both NFPA 13 and FM Global Data Sheet 2-0. A new obstruction analysis tool will also be demonstrated through the evaluation of real-world obstruction scenarios.

12:30 – 1:30 PM 

Escaping Tunnel Vision: A Holistic Approach to Addressing Life Safety and Fire Alarm Challenges in Storage Occupancies (Robert Accosta, Jr.) 

The integration of storage technology, evolution of product design, and desire to store at greater densities/heights continue to provide challenges in the design of life safety and fire alarm systems for storage facilities, warehouses and distribution centers. This presentation will further identify common challenges encountered during the design, construction and operation of these facilities as well as propose a holistic approach to addressing these challenges.

1:30 – 2:15 PM 

Back to Reality - Applying Storage Criteria in the Real World (John Denhardt) 

Design criteria for storage have and continue to involve as more testing is completed. Addressing commodity classifications that do not fit into the examples provided in the annex of NFPA 13 can be a complex issue. Often, the design criteria specified for a project are not applicable to the actual building being built. The design team needs to coordinate the design criteria with the building design before a sprinkler contractor has been selected to avoid issues during the construction phase.


Afternoon Break (2:15 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.) 

2:30 – 3:30 PM 

Panel Discussion 

3:30 – 3:45 PM 

Wrap up (William Koffel) 


Who should attend 

FPE’s, AHJ’s, Fire Safety System Designers, Risk Management Consultants, and Building Surveyors.   

Professional Development Hours: 

Upon completion each participant qualifies for 11.5 PDHs. A Certificate of Completion will be awarded after completion of online evaluation survey. 

Primary Training Location 

The Westin Chicago North Shore, 601 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Wheeling, IL 
Tour/Fire Test: Underwriters Laboratories, Inc., 333 Pfingsten Rd., Northbrook, IL 


Registration must be submitted online. Full payment is due upon registration to secure your space. Shared registration is strictly prohibited. Early Bird Registration pricing ends on July 29, 2022. We only have limited space for the seminar as we work with Underwriter Laboratories to plan a fire test related to the event topic and expect a full venue. Wait list will be available. We encourage all interested to register early.  



Early Bird Rate (through July 29) 

Regular Rate Member 

September 8-9, 2022 

Start on Thu, 9/8 at 8 a.m. and ends on Fri, 9/9 at 3:45 p.m. 



Fire Tour 

Separate registration required. Limited space to first 80 attendees. Wait list will be available.



*Non-member registration includes 12 months of free SFPE Membership.

Registration includes 2 days of instruction eligible for 11.5 PDH credits upon completion of an online evaluation, live fire tests at UL, and complimentary breakfast & lunch. 

Registration does not include: travel, airport transfers, hotel, and dinners.  



The Westin Chicago North Shore, 601 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Wheeling, IL 
This hotel does not provide shuttle service. Alternate Airport Transportation: AA Limousine & H&M Limo.

Please use this hotel group registration link for a negotiated rate of $159.00+tax. The hotel reservation must be made prior to August 17th to qualify for the negotiated rate.

Fire Test/Tour Venue 

Shuttles will be provided to Underwriters Laboratories, Inc., 333 Pfingsten Rd., Northbrook, IL 


Chicago O’Hare (ORD) – 16 miles 
Chicago Midway (MDW) – 28 miles 

Airline Discounts exclusive for 2022 SFPE events

We are pleased to partner with United Airlines for air travel to our upcoming
event. To make flight reservations online please click on discount code ZM8C769840 

MileagePlus members earn Premier Qualifying Dollars and miles for their travel.

You may also call United Meeting Reservation Desk at (800) 426–1122
Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time
Saturday – Sunday 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time

Booking fees are waived for Meeting reservations.


Delta Air Lines is pleased to offer special discounts for the Society of Fire Protection Engineers

Please click here to book your flights!

You may also call Delta Meeting Network® at 1.800.328.1111* Monday–Friday, 7:00 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. (CT) and refer to Meeting Event Code NMVW6

*Please note there is not a service fee for reservations booked and ticketed via our reservation 800 number.

Event Sponsorships
Please see SFPE Sponsorship Opportunities & Interest. 

Thank you to our Sponsors!