ATLANTIC CITY, NJ – October 4, 2013 – PalletOne and other industry members joined representatives from the National Wooden Pallet and Container Association (NWPCA) today at an International Code Council (ICC) hearing to voice concerns over proposed new regulations. The industry attendees were successful in getting the proposed changes, which would have negatively affected PalletOne and many other members of the pallet industry, disapproved.
Reed Esarove of PalletOne’s national sales team traveled to Atlantic City, New Jersey, to attend the ICC hearing on proposed changes to the International Fire Code (IFC) regarding outdoor pallet storage. “The significant modifications to outdoor storage requirements would have cost pallet manufacturers the use of valuable storage space,” Esarove explained. “Industry members predicted that the proposed changes to outdoor storage policies would decrease their pallet inventories by anywhere from 15% to 60%, with PalletOne being at the upper end of that range.”
The proposal required, among other things, a specific amount of distance between the stored pallets and property lines and buildings. It also specified that pallets be stored in groups in a grid pattern with a distance of 24 feet between the groups and an 8-foot-wide corridor between rows. “Members were concerned that the changes would force them to make costly decisions in order to comply by either decreasing inventory, which would potentially result in a loss in ability to meet customer needs, or increasing the size of their yards,” Esarove said. “Because the code would have been retroactive, existing businesses would have to make such changes in order to comply, a difficulty for plants with limited space to expand.”
The changes to the code were proposed to the ICC in early 2013 due to a perceived increase in large fires occurring on outdoor pallet yards. These changes were proposed without input from the pallet industry, and while industry members support efforts for improved fire safety, most felt that the evidence was not adequate for the significant changes that were being proposed. Industry members expressed an interest in partnering with the ICC to update the code; however, the current version as it stood had to be voted down first.
The NWPCA reached out to members, including PalletOne, to represent industry interests at the hearing; Esarove shared PalletOne’s story. “I explained that over the past 12 years we have stored and shipped almost 200 million pallets without once having to call our local fire departments to extinguish a fire in our outdoor pallet inventories,” Esarove said. “I also discussed how the code changes would affect our inventory levels.”
After the public comment session, the ICC immediately voted on the code, which didn’t receive the two-thirds vote necessary in order to pass. Going forward, the NWPCA will work with the ICC to modify the code to effectively meet both the safety and economic goals of the fire officials and the pallet industry. The ICC is an organization that develops countrywide safety codes and standards, and, had these changes been passed, they would have gone into effect in 2015, with local and state fire agencies adopting them for enforcement.