Inside look at how Denver Fire keeps warehouses fire-safe

DENVER -- A fire inspection is an important safety practice for businesses, especially at warehouses.

“Because of the amount of material that you can put in a warehouse,” Denver Fire Department Lt. Rodney Sherrod said.

There are close to 2,000 warehouses in Denver. Denver Fire inspectors visit each one annually to make sure they are not violating the fire code.

Denver Fire created a special warehouse-only inspector position in 2008 in response to a South Carolina warehouse fire that killed nine firefighters.

“It’s something that has to happen. If it doesn’t, then someone gets hurt,” Sherrod said. “Be proactive instead of reactive.”

The FOX31 Problem Solvers pulled inspection records for all Denver warehouses over the past 90 days.

The records show most buildings are in compliance with the major components of the fire code. All violations listed over the 90-day period were minor infractions, including having space heaters and not providing clear access to exits.

During an inspection, Sherrod said no two warehouses are alike.

“First, we’ll check what kind of storage they have and then how it’s being stored,” he said.

The fire code varies depending on the size of the building, the materials being stored and the density of the storage. For example, the higher material is stacked, the bigger a sprinkler system must be.

He also checks for clear pathways to emergency exits, easy-to-open doors, fire extinguishers and grated shelves that would allow sprinkler water to penetrate to the floor.

Denver Fire said since their inspectors began specializing in warehouses, they have seen a decrease in warehouse fires. The last major warehouse fire in Denver was on Dec. 30, 2014.