Altebra takes care of fire safety in the largest chocolate warehouse in the world

 10 june 2021

Safety is a top priority in a large warehouse like the one from Barry Callebaut. Altebra Fire Protection has an important role, as the company charged with installing customised fire detection and sprinkler systems. A total of around 31,000 sprinklers are being installed, across the warehouses, technical areas and internal offices. “We are quite used to projects of this size, however, it remains a fabulous challenge.”

No less than 1,125,000 litres of water are available on the new Callebaut premises to quickly and effectively extinguish any fire that should occur. Thanks to 65 kilometres of pipework, this water is sure to reach any flames in all corners of the warehouse. “An enormous 700m³ water reservoir has been installed above ground beside the building. From there, pumps take in the extinguishing water, which can then be transported through the pipes across the entire warehouse”, says Davy Vanden Herrewegen, project manager at Altebra.

1 hour of extinguishing power

“There is enough water to continue extinguishing for at least one hour. Our aim is for a potential fire to be completely under control within 60 minutes”, explains Vanden Herrewegen. “Approximately 22,500 sprinklers, or 2/3 of the total, are fitted in the high building. More goods are kept here than in the low building, and they are also stored in very close proximity. In principle, a sudden fire caused, for example, by a short circuit, could spread very rapidly. That’s why we have installed sprinklers at five different levels, of which four levels in the racking and one set at roof level”, explains Vanden Herrewegen.

International allure

Much discussion was required to perfect the installation of the sprinklers in the high building, involving among others the racking constructor SSI Schäfer and main contractor Alheembouw. “Good planning was certainly essential in streamlining the process, which is always the case in the construction industry. With the differences in height between the high and low buildings, plus the additional installation of a refrigerated unit, we faced a number of specific challenges. However, everything ran smoothly and we managed to respect the timing. We are working with extra safety measures on site and using more digital communication than normal, however, it is all going perfectly.”

“At Altebra, we are really proud to be part of this wonderful project”, confirms Vanden Herrewegen. “This project has international appeal and allure, and our company can be truly proud.”



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