With bourbon tourism in Kentucky and around the country growing at record numbers, distillery design teams are faced with many fire protection and life safety challenges when designing new distilleries or renovating existing buildings. Such was the case with the new Old Forester Distillery located in the historical “Whiskey Row” block of downtown Louisville, Kentucky. The Old Forester project presented the Vulcan Fire Systems distillery team with many fire protection and life safety challenges. The building, which opened for public tours in June 2018 shares the block with other tenants including restaurants, apartments, a speakeasy, and retail stores. This, all in the same block that suffered a major fire during a renovation project almost 3 years before the distillery opened.
- Thousands of gallons of flammable liquids rack storage warehouse?
- Visitors unfamiliar with building layout?
- Flammable liquids manufacturing?
- Atriums and large open spaces?
- Open flames?
Design and construction of new distilleries require years of planning, coordination, and execution. Fire protection and life safety is critical during the entire process, as this type of facility presents many hazards not typical of downtown city blocks. Many of Kentucky’s bourbon distilleries can be found in the countryside, alongside horse farms and country roads. With the bourbon boom in recent years, many distillers are capitalizing on the excitement and tourism, building distilleries in the heart of high traffic urban areas.
Fire Protection and Life Safety
Balancing design and safety is always a concern. The design team, including architects, engineers, distillery staff, and various consultants, must keep fire protection and life safety a main concern while limiting its effect on the aesthetic goals. For fire protection and life safety features to be successfully implemented, planning and coordination of the entire team is essential.
Some features often found in distilleries include:
- Siemens voice evacuation fire alarm and emergency communication system.
- VESDA® by Xtralis®: air sampling smoke detection to detect smoke very quickly, and gas vapor detection to detect flammable alcohol vapors.
- Ansul® AR-AFFF Foam: a foam-water sprinkler system, designed for alcohol fuel fires, to suppress a fire.
- In-rack sprinklers to protect barrel racks.
- Minmax® UniVario® Industrial heat detectors for activation of deluge sprinkler systems serving barrel charring and toasting exhaust hoods.
- Smoke exhaust system for atriums.
- Class I/Division 1 electrical equipment in hazardous areas such as the barrel warehouse.
- Compartmentalization utilizing fire barriers, fire walls, firestopping, etc.
Contractors utilize BIM models to coordinate among trades, allowing ductwork, piping, sprinklers, etc. to all be installed in tight spaces and minimize aesthetic impact. Through careful planning by the design team and coordination by the contractors, the life safety systems specified by the engineers are implemented without these systems being easily noticed and distracting from the distillery’s unique features.
A Well Designed System – Tourists Won’t See, But They’ll Be Protected
In fact, most visitors will likely only give attention to the beautiful copper stills, read the bourbon quotes on the walls, and gaze at the historical decorations, while learning about the bourbon making process and its history. On the other hand, some of us will admire the fire and life safety systems during the tour. Oh, and of course, many will enjoy sampling Kentucky’s excellent bourbon whiskey.
Contact Vulcan Fire Systems Today!
Contact Vulcan Fire Systems to learn how we can help you build or renovate your distillery for optimal safety. We’ll work with you to meet your short and long-term protection needs.