As a food processing design build firm, it’s the first question we ask our clients—are you planning to insure through Factory Mutual Insurance Company (FM Global)? As the preferred insurer for most commercial and industrial projects, Factory Mutual has rigorous specifications and standards so it’s important to address those requirements during the initial food processing design phase, whether you’re planning new construction or an expansion.
Five key FM requirements that should be addressed early in the planning process include:
- Structural – the FM Research guidelines are more stringent than the building code requirements. The roof assembly should be FM approved and must be designed to withstand wind uplift pressures and roof snow load. Roof assembly, from the roof membrane to the insulation to the roof decking, should be securely fastened to meet the roof wind rating. Exterior insulated metal panel (IMP) walls should be FM approved materials and fastened to meet the wind design pressures
- Refrigeration machine room – if the facility contains ammonia or any hazardous combustible materials, the refrigeration room requires proper ventilation, ammonia detection and explosion venting. In the event of an explosion, venting allows hazardous fumes to escape properly without damaging other areas and equipment and putting employees at unnecessary risk
- Fire protection – in warehouses and storage areas, FM dictates the maximum height that product can be stacked depending on the type of product being stored in the facility
- Compartmentalization – especially in larger facilities, FM requires that a maximum foreseeable loss (MFL) fire wall be installed to separate facility rooms depending on their function and product. For example, production rooms must be separated by a MFL fire wall from rooms housing finished products. MFL fire walls must have four-hour fire resistance and adequate strength for lateral stability to limit damage and loss in case of fire
- Electrical – all electrical conduit should be intrinsically safe electrical within a fire-rated wall so air can’t pass through from one side of the wall to another, especially if ammonia is present.
Overall, early communication is the key to meeting FM standards. It’s critical to engage the local FM representative in the early planning stages to address all of these areas before any design or construction begins.