FM Global – one of the world’s largest commercial and industrial property insurers – today unveiled a new, more effective fire protection approach for warehouses that could reduce businesses’ loss prevention costs by millions of pounds. Using current fire protection technology, the solution enables facility owners to use fewer sprinklers and lower-capacity water systems.

The development follows nearly three years of comprehensive research by FM Global consisting of extensive and advanced open-source computer fire modeling, water flow tests and large-scale fire tests at its 1,600-acre (647 hectare) Research Campus in West Glocester, Rhode Island, USA, the premiere center in the world for property loss-prevention scientific research and product testing.

“Fire is the leading cause of commercial property damage,” noted Ronnie Gibson, vice president and chief engineer with FM Global. “This new in-rack sprinkler design option for warehouses can minimize our clients’ costs as well as their risk and exemplifies FM Global’s unparalleled risk engineering expertise and commitment to the resilience of our policyholders.”

For example, in a 500,000-square foot (46,450-square meter) warehouse with an 80-foot (24-meter) ceiling height, the cost of installing sprinklers, pumps and water tanks could fall from approximately US$4.3 million to as little as US$2.6 million, according to contractor estimates.

In addition to cost savings, the new design also is more environmentally friendly. It would allow companies to protect their highest-hazard commodities, such as expanded plastic, using less than half the water volume previously needed. Furthermore, in the event of a fire, warehouse owners would likely sustain less water and smoke damage, because the fire would be controlled or suppressed more quickly. Businesses also may see a smaller environmental impact in smoke and water runoff.

FM Global’s detailed engineering guideline, Data Sheet 8-9, “Storage of Class 1, 2, 3, 4 and Plastic Commodities,” is available online at no cost at