Self-storage facilities are a challenge for extinguishing fires because they are not often monitored for fire prevention, and individuals may place their items in a precarious manner that can be a danger during a fire and can act as accelerants during a fire. Outcomes can be poor in these situations, but they can be made even worse when obstructions cause fire notification systems to fail.
Lockers, large piles of materials, and even purposefully placed coverings can obstruct the detection of a fire until the fire is of a large scale. Narrow aisles filled with material make it difficult to respond to fires quickly and safely. The environment of a self-storage facility also promotes fire, as there aren’t usually a lot of employees available around the clock to detect signs of fire in a timely manner (Dinaburg & Gottuk, 2012). Obstructions can also delay sprinkler systems if the material blocks smoke from reaching them (International Building Code, 2006).

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The casual nature of self-storage by individuals who don’t anticipate fire danger cause delayed responses in these facilities. Delayed detection from obstruction is preventable, and it is the most valuable firefighting mechanism that there is in self-storage facilities where there often are not other means to detect fire. Extinguishing fires becomes complex in self-storage facilities that are not up to code, but in the event that they are properly maintained, the nature of the contents in the building still pose a risk.

The best approach to ensuring no obstacles will promote fire growth or cause notification systems to fail is to be proactive. Knowing the layout of the building and performing walk-throughs can ensure that one knows alternate routes in the event of obstruction but also that obstructions can be removed whenever discovered, and this will lessen the risk that they exist in the event of fire.

  • Dinaburg, J. & Gottuk, D. (2012, Jan). Fire detection in warehouse facilities. The Fire Protection Research Foundation. Retrieved from file:///C:/Users/Robert%20Rahim/Downloads/rfwarehousefireprotection.pdf
  • International Building Code. (2006). Retrieved from