As you probably already know, it’s extremely important to maintain a clear space and prevent flue space push through in your pallet racking. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Code 13, the longitudinal flue space must remain clear at all times with a 6″ separation between racks in the down-aisle direction.
While a clear transverse flue space is also important, the longitudinal flue space allows heat from a fire to vent upward and ceiling fire sprinklers to work effectively. When push through occurs and pallets or inventory block the flue space, fires can spread more quickly, sprinklers are rendered ineffective, and more overall damage occurs.
But while it’s simple enough to say the flue space needs to be kept clear, it can be more challenging in practice when you have large racking systems to maintain.
One way that pallet racking flue space can become blocked is by poor rack design. Be certain that your pallets and loads are the right size and depth to fit the racks properly. A well-designed rack system will allow adequate flue space both longitudinally and transversely.
Another common problem for flue space blockage comes from overly deep pallet loads. If your pallet loads are deeper than your racks, pallets push through into the flue space, blocking the longitudinal flue space. If you are storing loose items, these can fall into the flue space and are typically difficult to retrieve and result in lost product — not to mention the blockage of sprinklers and other safety features.
Loading error can also cause pallet push through. Even if your racks are the correct size for your loads, pushing the pallets too far back can also block the longitudinal flue space, increasing the risk of fire spread and lost product.
How to Prevent Flue Space Push Through
Solving flue space push through issues has historically been expensive and time-consuming, whether through employee training on proper forklift load handling or by installing expensive and time-consuming equipment to prevent it. And, more unfortunately, addressing fallen pallets or cartons due to flue space push through often doesn’t happen until after an accident has occurred.
In addition to protecting your warehouse from a catastrophic fire event, safeguarding employees is always a top priority. How can you do both while still making sure you’re running your facility efficiently? Adrian’s rack safety product line has solved the issue of flue space push through with a line of simple products that are easily inserted into existing racking uprights within seconds.
Really! They are easily installed in under a minute and, best of all, require no additional tools. For example, when installing the Rack Safety Strap:
- Simply locate the metal pallet storage rack connectors and rotate them to align the T-bar to a vertical position.
- Then, insert the lower part of the T-bar first, and the upper portion second, into the pallet rack upright slot.
- Finally, release the metal pallet storage rack connector. (The metal pallet storage rack connector will rotate back to a neutral position locking it securely in place.)
- Repeat this process with all-metal pallet storage rack connectors and you’re done!
We design all of our rack safety products with the end-user in mind. We believe finding a solution that keeps your products from falling does not have to be complicated, expensive, or require extensive installation. That’s why our safety netting and straps mount quickly to the existing back of the rack with no tools needed.
How to Maintain Your Pallet Racking
First, make sure that your pallet racks are designed properly for your loads and double-check that the pallets you use fit on the racks without blocking the flue space.
While some warehouses install an extra beam to the back of each bay, this solution limits the size of pallets you can put on the rack and can be very difficult to change or replace in case of damage.
Keeping your flue space clear is extremely important – and the right safety solutions make it simple, affordable, and safe for your products and employees.
As mentioned above, one of the most efficient and affordable solutions available to maintain your pallet racking and flue space is a Rack Safety Strap. These straps are ideal because they attach to the back of each bay and have some give to them, allowing enough room for pallets of various size to move slightly into the flue space, if needed, without blocking the space or causing damage to the rack or product.
Rack Safety Straps are also just as effective as other safety netting or mesh barrier solutions at preventing flue space push through, especially when dealing with palletized stock.
If you need additional coverage, we also provide Rack Safety Nets. These nets perform the same function as Rack Safety Straps but offer the added protection of a mesh net that covers the entire rear or front bay, depending on your application.
From loose items within bays that may fall into a work area to flue spaces blocked by pallet push through, we offer safety solutions for any pallet racking needs. For help maintaining your pallet racking flue space, contact us for a free sample or get a quote now.
(This article was originally published 4/24/2015. It has been updated on 8/22/2019.)