≡ Menu

Does This Meet Code 11

Storage and More Storage

Welcome to the 11th installment of does this meet code.  Our most popular segment on Inspector911.com and this picture was brought to us by one of our great supporters.

I know that pictures don’t always tell the complete story, but the one below tells a story for sure.

The use of a building can truly hamper the built in safety features that the building is built under.  So picture this, you receive a call on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving for some blocked exit doors at this mercantile establishment.  As you walk through the store, you find the back store room in this condition, what do you do?  How do you cite this?

Storage should be neat and orderly

What would you do?  What would your report stated?  Let us know by posting a comment below!

{ 19 comments… add one }

  • dwight November 29, 2009, 2:06 pm

    I’d call the Fire Marshall as in Georgia it is his job to enforce exiting and everything else after the building has a CofO.

  • Steve November 29, 2009, 9:55 pm

    Issue an appearance ticket to justice court. Call our town attorney and try to get a judge to order the store closed until the hazard is removed. You can also try suggesting to the the manager that they have some real nice $ 1000.00 boxes back there.

  • Dave Dietz November 30, 2009, 5:39 pm

    IAW NFPA 101 ( Access and egress routes shall be maintained so that any individual is able to move without undue hindrance, on personal initiative and at any time, from an occupied position to the exits

    Enough said; clear it and maintain it immediately.

  • Brad December 1, 2009, 8:02 am

    Meet with the store manager in the store room and make a wager with him/her, that I can write a $1,000.00 citation quicker than he/she can clear th egress. If they can do then I void the ticket…….

  • Brian Batten December 1, 2009, 9:14 am

    Ran into this situation at a popular dollar store in my jurisdiction. I called their corporate offices and sent them pictures of the hazard. I mentioned to corporate representative that there is probably some inventory that the store management believes is missing, but simply can’t find it because they are so disorganized. And, indeed they did find some items that were overstocked and it saved the company money. More importantly, look further into how the store is maintained. If management is allowing this condition, imagine how the fire protection systems, electrical and HVAC systems and outside yards are not properly maintained either.

    I would order an immediate clearing of an aisleway. I would then give them 2 to 10 days to reorganize the storage area. Pu this in writng of course. In my case the photos and a few phone calls to corporate personnel in another state worked. Within one week the mess was cleaned up.

  • Doug December 1, 2009, 10:01 am

    This was a common site at our local $$ store. We issued numerous violations but the next day a new shipment would arrive. The store manager stated that they spoke with the district manager about them overloading the stores but to no avail. Finally when they were called to their court date, the district manager had fired the store manager and 2 employees placing the blame on them. They paid their $500.00 dollar fine and promised to be more diligent. That’s business….

  • Archie Koenemund December 1, 2009, 10:24 am

    I would issue a forthwith order to remove all obstructions to paths of egress and obstructions to the Fire Alarm and Fixed Pipe Fire Protection systems and, provide storage of combustible material and stock as per the IFC. Here at my facility I would also notify their Senior Manager and vacate the premise. Conduct a re-inspection within 24 hours to verify compliance then, allow re-occupancy.

  • Harry b December 1, 2009, 11:16 am

    Would have manager on duty clear while I was there .Also need to know what type of mercantile it is and products stored.
    Also need to educate all managers and staff about sloppy conditions .Also to the right there are some type of boxes stacked to high.
    General housekeeping code .
    Blocked means of egress.
    Note to manager let him know you will return later in the day to see that this doesn’t continue and let them know if its is found the same condition fines will be imposed.
    Really important take pictures , ALWAYS

  • Brian Dove December 1, 2009, 11:16 am

    This would be cited under Section 304.1 of the International Fire Code – 2003 Edition, to begin with under combustible waste accumulations. I would add Section 304.3 which requires by inference that combustible rubbish and waste material must be stored in a container.

    Then I would hop over to Section 315.1 and notify them they need a permit to store combustible material. Then skip on down to 315.2 for the “orderly” issues and then on to 315.2.1 for storage within 2 feet of the ceiling and then I would put the icing on the cake with Section 315.2.3 which prohibits storage in bolier rooms, mechanical rooms or electrical equipment rooms. Notice the HVAC equipment in the rear.

    I do like Brian Batten’s solution to this and used it once to great effect. Notifying the next echelon of corporate responsbility brings certain liabilities into focus for that individual that they would rather force down to the lower echelon. I t does not necessarily endear you to the local representative, but my guess is you really are not loosing a best friend in the situation. I would hesitate to use this unless the local folks clearly showed a lack of interest or ability in resolving the problem.

  • Daniel O. December 1, 2009, 4:37 pm

    There are a couple issues here that need to be addressed. One is a life safety issue where obviously the means of egress is severely obstructed. The other is the potential fire hazard from poor housekeeping and improper ordinary combustible storage. There also appears to be some improper storage of commondites at the rear that seem to reach the ceiling. I believe 24-inch clearance from the ceiling in unsprinklered facilities remains as a requirement.

    As a township fire inspector my priority is life safety and I would inform the mercantile’s management to clear a path in order to maintain the integrity of the means of egress and to do so in my presence. I would not leave until they at lease make the rear exits accessible. The next project obviously is the orderly storage of materials and proper disposal of the unwanted cardboard boxes. These two actions are a priority and should be an order, not a recommewndation.

  • Wayne Morris December 1, 2009, 5:03 pm

    This is the reason we have a secure job…The back storage of every (or most)grocery, discount and doller store at one time or another is like this. As Doug says, the next day a new shipment will arrive, and the mess starts all over again. I try to explain to the store managers (as the notice of violation is written) that if the required exit path’s are obstructed, that it may prevent someone from escaping, and it may be them, because the public is usually not in this location, but may need the back exit, and in this case, they will all pile up on top of him because panic will set in and the pushing will begin!!!

  • Susan December 2, 2009, 2:45 pm

    I would immediately issue a citation and give them time to clean up before my 5 pm end of work time. The citation would include a $250.00 fine and increases each time I have to issue a citation for the same issue after the time line has passed. $$$$ usually get them to comply.

  • Lou H December 2, 2009, 5:09 pm

    Just tell the manager the store is closed until the stockroom is cleaned due to unsafe conditions. It hits them in the pocket book right then.

  • Syndi Bautista December 3, 2009, 11:40 am


    Of NFPA 101 Life Safety Code 2003 Edition Sections and, for failing to maintain aisles leading to each exit with a minimum width of not less than the required width of the exit at (location). Inclusively, NFPA 1 Uniform Fire Code 2003 Edition Section 10.8.1, for rendering the fixed fire-extinguishing system inoperable or inaccessible.

    Violation Issued to: (names) Store Manager
    Assistant Manager
    District Manager

    Company Name:


    You are hereby ordered to clear and maintain the aisles to each exit and remove all articles hanging from the sprinkler pipes within 24 hours of this order.

    Failure to comply with this order may result criminal prosecution in the State of New Hampshire Nashua District Court by the City of Nashua Fire Marshal’s Office. Penalties may result with misdemeanor charges against a corporation or a violation if a natural person. Penalties of up to $2000.00 dollars per day that the violations exist could result from enforcement of City Fire Code in accordance with Nashua Revised Ordinances Section 8-2 and RSA 153:5.

    Syndi Bautista

    FYI: Further action did result in $5000 fine.

  • Norm December 17, 2009, 11:18 am

    After they correct the issue, have them to mark the floor with tape or paint for a dedicate aisleway. I have found this to help in several situations very similar to this one-good reminder of what has to be clear at all times.

  • Tommy G. December 18, 2009, 6:23 pm

    I don’t see any sprinklers, which makes this even more scary…

  • Brad Howard, CET January 1, 2010, 11:33 pm

    This is an easy one. This mess is blocking an egress path and is a stock-piled combustible fire hazard. This poses an immediate danger to the occupants per OFC 109.1.2, 304.1 and ORC 3737.41 for immediate remedial action.

  • Halon February 20, 2010, 9:00 pm

    Store voluntarily closed until the storage room was cleared. While we were on site, another delivery semi truck drove up to the backdoor. After a conversation with corporate, they decided to divert the delivery to another store. Yep, we figured out which store. Beat the truck there and surveyed the store. Stockroom had to be cleaned up before they could unload!

  • Alex May 11, 2012, 2:31 pm

    Hey! Keep your cameras away from my office! I’m just glad you can’t see what a mess my desk is.

Leave a Comment