Warehouse characteristics:

  • volume of non-refrigerated rooms: 57,528 m³
  • maximum amount of combustible materials that may be stored: 750 t
  • the chillers use R404, R410A, R407C and ammonia as a refrigerant
  • surface area: 12,000 m²
  • regulatory regime: registration category 1510 and declaration category 1511.

At around 4:00 a.m., the on-call manager of a food wholesaler was alerted by an alarm from a compressor on a chiller. Upon arriving on the scene at around 9:30 a.m., he saw that the entire warehouse was flooded, especially the walk-in freezer and the receiving/shipping areas. He alerted the firefighters, who secured the freezer and part of the receiving/shipping areas (part of the water on the floor had frozen). As a safety precaution, a specialist company contained the ammonia in the mechanical equipment room. The liquid water on the floor was pumped out and then discharged into the site’s wastewater system.

An estimated €900,000 in goods was lost. The warehouse’s frozen-foods operations were transferred to another site in the group. The event generated 1500 t of biowaste. The walk-in freezer was expected to be put back in service in late June 2017.

The incident was caused by a fire suppression pipe that became disconnected due to the cold. The premises and the pipe were inspected using a drone which, due to problems receiving the GPS signal, became stuck in the suspended ceiling. As the area was experiencing a period of freezing temperatures and the floor was covered with frozen water, the premises could not be inspected any other way. The pipe in question was examined.