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Modular Construction for Chemical Storage

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April/May 2011

When storing chemicals, flammables and other hazardous materials, certain situations can best be addressed by the use of modular construction. Modular construction is utilized when a building of larger square footage is needed for a small site area. A savings of time and money may be realized where heating, cooling and electrical equipment is only needed for one completed building versus outfitting multiple smaller structures.

One such modular building is a SUPERloc™ brand building designed and manufactured for the California Department of Fish and Game by U.S. Chemical Storage. Utilizing 4 hour bi-directional fire rated noncombustible weatherproof construction, the building meets or exceeds UL 263 & ASTM E-119. Due to the large 324 square foot size of the building, it was delivered in two halves, each half containing specific configurations and accessories based on specific needs of the intended use of the building. The full storage capacity of the building is 144,000 lbs and consists primarily of virgin chemicals.

Upon arrival, the building is offloaded on site with a crane and then joined at the center. The wall construction includes mineral wool insulation and multiple layers of UL Classified fire-resistant gypsum wallboard encased between interior and exterior heavy gauge Galvanneal sheet steel for maximum durability. Wallboard layers are offset with overlapping joints for maximum fire resistance and conform to NFPA 30 standards. The roof system meets a 4 hour fire rated Class A flame spread rating, wind uplift that exceeds UL Rating I-60 and is constructed of the same weather proof non-combustible construction as the walls. The floor consists of fiberglass T-bar style grating and a leak proof spill containment sump. The sump is fabricated from continuously welded 10 gauge steel sheets for maximum spill containment and coated with a chemical resistant epoxy.

Some of the accessories used in this particular project include convection heater, explosion proof refrigeration unit, explosion proof incandescent light fixture, standard electrical load center, single door with panic hardware, rollup door, dry chemical fire suppression system, combination shower/eyewash station, and loading ramps.

This specific project takes into consideration and meets all of the latest California and NFPA compliance codes and regulations. These include the building codes for mechanical, plumbing and electric. The building complies with NFPA standards for flammable and combustible liquids, dry chemical extinguishing systems, and fire doors and windows.

U.S. Chemical Storage buildings are branded according to fire ratings. The FIREloc™ brand has a uni-directional and bi-directional two hour fire rating. The SUPERloc™ building brand has a bi-directional four hour fire rating. CHEMloc and DRUMloc buildings fit the need for safe storage in a non fire rated structure. Any of these brands can utilize modular construction if needed. Each modular building is manufactured to the customer’s needs and the specifics of construction of the building brands.

Particular attention is paid to the accessories package that any building would need. Heating and cooling calculations are provided to properly size heating and cooling units to meet the temperature needs of the materials housed within. Where units have specific fire ratings or explosion proof designs, the accessories are installed at the factory to exacting code specifications and requirements. This helps to insure that the building is compliant with environmental regulations. This step also eliminates the need for outsourcing after the building is installed on site. Accessories are considered optional, with the exception of standard signage, and are chosen based on the individual building and material storage needs. Standard signage consists of a permanent D.O.T. metal flip placard with a rust proof aluminum holder and stainless steel clips and a NFPA Hazard Rating decal.

General arrangement and submittal drawings are furnished with an engineer’s seal prior to submittal to the owner/end user of the building, the architect or the engineer. Third party and state approvals are available in all 50 states and territories. This helps to facilitate other permits required for local planning boards and municipal fire safety requirements. Consult your local fire marshal for more information and specifics for your particular area. For more information visit:


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