Technical Director - Structural and Fire Engineering
This £50m logistics warehouse development covers an area of 785.000 ft2 and includes provision for high bay racked storage and a multi-level mezzanine floor which comprises an automated garment hanging system. The development also includes provision for office accommodation and loading and unloading facilities for large delivery vehicles. RPS was commissioned to provide fire engineering advice on the project and to liaise with the statutory authorities to gain regulatory approval for the work.
Garment Hanging Warehouse and Distribution Storage Facility
The scale of the development posed a number of challenges including extensions in travel distance and the drive for efficiency in terms of fire protection to the mezzanine floor structure. Standard guidance would dictate that travel distance should be limited to 45m, however adopting this value would have been impractical and would have impacted on the operational viability of the development. Additionally the mezzanine floor would typically require extensive structural fire protection measures.
Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modelling was used to critically assess the impact of extended travel distances in the building and the extent of fire protection required in order that the mezzanine structure would remain stable for long enough to facilitate safe means of escape from the building. Two separate CFD models were run to address each issue. In terms of means of escape the modelling demonstrated that based on the provision of sprinklers and a high roof level that smoke would migrate to roof level and would take an extended time to fill down into the building before compromising escape routes.
The additional time accrued before the occupants would be impacted by smoke permitted reasonable extensions in travel distance. Regarding the mezzanine floor structure a further CFD model considered the heat build-up in the structural frame and the ability of the frame to remain stable for a period of time to permit safe egress from the building. The results from the CFD modelling informed the design which include fire protection to the structural columns but no applied fire protection to the beam elements of the structure.
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