February 7, 2022
A large fire broke out in an 90,174 sq. ft. records storage building in Bartlett, IL around 9:45 AM on Thursday February 3, 2022. The fire reportedly started in the middle of the 230 ft. by 370 ft. main building section with the local fire department notified by automatic fire alarm at about 9:48 AM. A mutual aid box alarm was activated at approximately 10:08 AM with the fire initially declared under control at about 11:39 AM. The 40 ft. high building reportedly had both ceiling and in-rack sprinkler protection fed from a 1,500-gpm fire booster pump. Sprinklers were reported as providing fire control when the fire department initially arrived.
Fire command announced that the fire had rekindled at about 3:40 PM and another mutual aid box alarm was called. A storage rack collapse was reported around this time and the fire was through the steel deck roof quickly with precast concrete walls beginning to collapse. It is unknown if the fire protection systems were operational at the time the fire reignited.
The building was a total loss with fire activities continuing for several days after. The cause of the fire is unknown and the investigation is continuing.
While full details of the fire are unknown, this event brings up several critical loss prevention points. Cartoned record storage in racks utilizing catwalks requires proper protection in accordance with NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems. This includes the provision of both adequate longitudinal and transverse flue spaces in addition to properly installed and designed intermediate and in-rack sprinklers. A pre-incident plan with the local fire department should be developed and reviewed at least annually. The Fighting Fire in Sprinklered Buildings training programs offered by FM Global are an excellent resource for fire service personnel.
Risk Logic can review fire protection system designs, provide impairment management training and assist with pre-incident planning.