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Houston Building Permit Application

Houston Building Permit Application

What is a High Piled Storage Permit?

The Jurisdiction May or May Not Require One

It seems like a simple question, but the wrong answer can cost you.  In it’s simplest form, a high piled storage permit is a fire marshal regulated permit that is renewed annually to trigger inspections from the fire marshal’s office.  However, not all jurisdictions require an annual renewable high piled storage permit.  The most difficult answer to the question is that a high piled storage permit is a building permit that requires plans to be submitted to show compliance with the fire code and sprinkler standards related to high piled storage.  This is overseen by the building department, and it does not require an annual renewable permit.  However, these plans are the last line of defense for the jurisdiction to make sure that the occupancy matches the use and will not be subject to fines later on for non compliance.

The Code Requires One

So the common question is “Do I need a high piled storage permit”?  And the answer can be yes and yes, or yes and no.  It is always a yes because drawings need to be submitted for the installation of racking and also to show the floor pile layout.  At the same time, it is sometimes a yes or no because an annual fire marshal permit may or may not be required from the fire marshal.  These requirements are typically set in §3201.2 and §3201.3 of the International Fire Code (2015 ed.) and will be published in the jurisdiction’s Code of Ordinances.  The sections mentioned deal with permits required and construction documents required, and they are the basis for the “yes” answer to the building permit requirement.  Following is an excerpt from the 2015 edition of the IFC §3201.3 requirements for construction documents:

  1. Floor plan of the building showing locations and dimensions of high-piled storage areas.
  2. Usable storage height for each storage area.
  3. Number of tiers within each rack, if applicable.
  4. Commodity clearance between top of storage and the sprinkler deflector for each storage arrangement.
  5. Aisle dimensions between each storage array.
  6. Maximum pile volume for each storage array.
  7. Location and classification of commodities in accordance with Section 3203.
  8. Location of commodities that are banded or encapsulated.
  9. Location of required fire department access doors.
  10. Type of fire suppression and fire detection systems.
  11. Location of valves controlling the water supply of ceiling and in-rack sprinklers.
  12. Type, location and specifications of smoke removal and curtain board systems.
  13. Dimension and location of transverse and longitudinal flue spaces.
  14. Additional information regarding required design features, commodities, storage arrangement and fire protection features within the high-piled storage area shall be provided at the time of permit, when required by the fire code official.

These documents are what provide the building officials with the information needed to ensure that the tenant’s occupancy matches the use and that the the provisions of high piled storage are met.  These provisions include, but are not limited to…

  • Automatic Sprinkler System
  • Automatic Fire Alarm System
  • Firefighter Access Doors
  • Apparatus Access Roads
  • Fire Hydrant/Water Supply Distribution and Flow
  • Smoke and Heat Venting
  • Curtain Boards/Draft Curtains

Conclusion

Therefore, when signing a lease or looking for a property, knowing the compliance requirements is a must.  This is why it is imperative to get a fire code consulting firm that specializes in high piled storage permits to review the buildings prior to lease signing. Although a high piled storage permit may not be required, the requirements outlined in the fire code for high piled storage must still be met.  Look for a firm that the AHJ is familiar with as well as the engineering community.  Google the firm’s history and research their qualifications.  Lastly, have the firm come out to review the buildings in question and request a report.