JOHNSTON, R.I., USA—Robots make warehouses more efficient but also may introduce new fire risks. It’s a worry that has prompted commercial and industrial property insurer FM Global to give new advice to clients using automatic storage and retrieval systems (ASRS).

The guidelines, based on five years and millions of dollars of research, can help risk managers and warehouse managers:

  • Optimize fire protection through careful storage design choices.

  • Reduce costs of fire protection systems, including the costs of piping, pumps and water tanks.

  • Base their protection strategies in evidence, not guesswork.

  • Support sustainability through the use of less water.

These fire-protection guidelines are important as a growing number of companies automate their warehouses, pack them more densely, stack products higher, and use flammable plastic containers that can trap water emitted by fire sprinklers.

“The guidelines are intended to answer the vexing questions risk managers and warehouse managers are struggling with around fire protection in ASRS settings,” said Brion Callori, senior vice president and manager, engineering and research at FM Global. “Careful design and configuration can help companies quickly suppress fires and stay in business. The goal is to let robots, which in science fiction always seem to run amok, deliver the quiet efficiency they promise in the real world.”

The new guidelines constitute FM Global Property Loss Prevention Data Sheet 8-34, Protection for Automatic Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS). FM Global data sheets are available at no charge at

The guidelines include provisions for:

  • Sprinkler arrangement

  • Independence of in-rack and ceiling sprinkler systems

  • Container design

  • Racking structure

About FM Global
Established nearly two centuries ago, FM Global is a mutual insurance company whose capital, scientific research capability and engineering expertise are solely dedicated to property risk management and the resilience of its client-owners. These owners, who share the belief that the majority of property loss is preventable, represent many of the world’s largest organizations, including one of every three Fortune 1000 companies. They work with FM Global to better understand the hazards that can impact their business continuity in order to make cost-effective risk management decisions, combining property loss prevention with insurance protection.