A discussion is presented on the importance of considering the flammability of packaging materials when designing fire protection for high tech storage operations as seen from a risk management perspective. The high dollar value of such products, and the relatively high flammability of packaging materials used to protect them, combine to create serious warehousing fire risks. Traditional sprinkler protection philosophy is based on “fire control,” that is wetting down a specific area (185 to 280 m2), to slow down fire development and allow the fire department to extinguish the fire. This philosophy, though adequate for many warehouse applications, can be inappropriate for high tech warehouses, as the fire dollar loss may be excessive even with successful control of a fire. More effective sprinkler systems are described. However, the pursuit of improved fire protection methods to cope with increased packaging flammability challenges is not the total solution. More important is the pursuit of lower flammability packaging materials to reduce the fire risks in the first place. A description of current developments in low flammability packaging materials, including corrugated paper containers and foam plastic cushioning materials, is presented. Packaging trends are forecasted.
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