Fire Prevention & Protection

How Does a Fully Sprinklered Warehouse Burn to the Ground?

Issue 10 and Volume 171.

BY ROBERT DUVAL On April 3, 2015, in the midst of some of the worst weather the region had experienced in several years, a fully sprinklered storage warehouse on the property of General Electric (GE) suffered a catastrophic fire. The entire building was destroyed, as were the contents of appliance parts. Immediately after the fire, members of the Metro Arson Squad of the Louisville (KY) Fire and Rescue Department began to ask how and why an occupied warehouse could suffer such a large fire. The commander of the Arson Squad requested that the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) assist with its investigation into the circumstances leading to the fire. I traveled to Louisville shortly after the fire and spent several days with the investigators on the fire scene. (1) This photo, taken by an evacuating employee, shows the fire in an incipient stage at the end of a row of…

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