What to think about
Climate screen fire safety precautions
Greenhouse, garden center and nursery fires can be especially destructive, once a fire is underway it can spread very quickly.
The following steps should be reviewed and implemented to minimize fire risk associated with screens and shade cloths.
Correct potential wiring problems that can result in fires. If wires are in contact with screens at any point in the coverage area, friction against the wiring is likely to result as the screen is opened and closed. Friction can wear away the insulation and expose a hot wire to greenhouse screens.
One way to prevent this hazardous situation from occurring is to have all wiring in ceilings routed away from any moving systems and encased in metal conduit.
Ensure that heating exhaust pipes are always at least 3 feet from screens that are not fire-resistant. For other combustible materials, make sure a metal thimble is used where the vent passes through the material, such as a greenhouse end wall. For new construction or replacement consider using a double-walled "Class B gas vent".
To prevent fires and other hazards, we specify the following distances between heated items and screens:
- 8-inch distance between FR screens and greenhouse lamps
- 24-inch distance between FB screens and screens with no fire safety from greenhouse lamps.
Screen systems should be retracted (placed in a gathered position to form a natural fire break) if a fire should start. Vents should be manually closed and all air movement equipment should be shut down, if possible.
Sprinklers and screens
Water will not freely flow through your Tempa and Obscura screens. What would likely happen, if the sprinklers are turned on with one of the screens/curtains deployed, is the screen would quickly become saturated with water and then the water would begin to drip through. There would be some puddling of water on the screen (especially the double layer Obscura). Within a couple of minutes I would expect much of the sprinkler water to be dripping through the screen, however, it would be more like rain falling the greenhouse vs the heavy and even spray of the sprinklers. Also the water would likely not be dispersed as evenly as with the sprinklers alone. If possible, if the sprinklers are triggered, then the screen should be triggered to open (or bundle) as well so as not to interfere with the sprinklers.
Place proper firefighting equipment in each structure. ABC dry chemical fire extinguishers (5 to 10 pounds) should be used, with the number of extinguishers depending on the size of the building. Travel distance to a fire extinguisher should be no greater than 75 feet.
No garden hoses!
Under no circumstances should garden hoses be considered adequate for fire extinguishing. A garden hose is 1/2 inch in diameter, as opposed to 2-1/2 inch for a fire hose. A garden hose is completely ineffective for addressing extremely fast-burning fires.