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I've recently been looking at getting overhead storage racks for my garage which has several standard pendant sprinklers. The racks I am looking at are 4' x 8' and have rigid brackets, vertical posts, horizontal beams and crosshatched wire base. I asked the local installer what the distance requirements are so I can measure and calculate how many racks I would be able to install.

I received a response stating that all I need is 5" horizontal clearance from each rack to each sprinkler. Is this correct? The reason I ask is that this answer regarding light fixture distance from fire sprinklers has a distinctly different answer.

The answer from JayL contains the following:

The residential code says pendant sprinklers must be at least 3 ft from obstructions such as ceiling fans and lights (as measured from their centers)

Does the above apply to storage racks as well? Are they getting by with a technicality where it's within code as long as you don't put anything on the racks, but as soon as you put a storage bin up there it becomes an obstruction and out of code?

Edit: For clarity's sake, the brackets for these racks are mounted to the roof ceiling joists and the vertical posts hang down from the brackets.

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You should not store any items within 18" of the ceiling near a sprinkler head. The items can obstruct the water flow of the sprinkler if it goes off.

NFPA 13 (2013), Clearance to Storage, has a requirement in 8.5.6.1, which states, "Unless the requirements of 8.5.6.2, 8.5.6.3, 8.5.6.4, or 8.5.6.5 are met, the clearance between the deflector and the top of storage or contents of the room shall be 18 in. (457 mm) or greater."

OSHA 29 CFR 1910.159(c)(10) in part states, "The minimum vertical clearance between sprinklers and material below shall be 18-inches (457 mm).

The 18" should be considered a minimum vertical clearance. All items in the storage area must fall below this plane

  • The NFPA 13 cite you were after is 8.5.6.1 not 8.5.6.4 (8.5.6.4 only applies to sprinklers especially tested for closely piled storage, I'm looking at the 2013 ed. btw) – ThreePhaseEel Feb 6 at 23:48
  • You are correct. As I stated in my answer.... 8.5.6.1 states that "Unless the requirements of .2-.5 are met, the 18" rule applies. – Jerry_Contrary Feb 7 at 14:06
  • Maybe I'm misunderstanding the question/answer, but isn't he asking about overhead storage attached to the ceiling and horizontal distance from a sprinkler head? The 18" makes sense coming from below vertically - but is it 5" for racks attached to the ceiling? Or is it also 18" horizontally as well? – Hatt Jun 19 at 20:03

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