Wooden Pallets at Christensen Oil in Provo Utah are a Fire Hazard

Wooden pallets burn quickly and hot if they catch fire. Christensen Oil in Provo, Utah is storing wooden pallets near flammable liquids and are a fire hazard which need to be addressed.

The 2018 IFC changed the storage regulations for wooden pallets, requiring pallets to be stored at least 7.5′ from all other material for 1 to 50 pallets, and 15′ from all other materials for 51 to 200 pallets.

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Click to see full page of General Requirements

Christensen Oil violates the pallet storage statue of International Fire Code Section 315.7
Main pallet page IFC 2018 315.7
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This applies to all pallet storage, at all premises, in the state of Utah.

Christensen Oil gets cases of motor oil delivered on wooden pallets, then has the pallets periodically hauled off.

As Christensen also has storage for 100,000 gallons of gasoline and 300,000 gallons of motor oil, it seems prudent that their pallets should be stored in a safe manner.  A stack of pallets catching fire could ignite other things, and cause a chain reaction catastrophe.

The pallets were first stored in the middle of the yard, close to a 20,000 gallon tank of Methanol.  Methanol is the most flammable liquid stored at Christensen, it ignites readily at any temperature.

The Maeser Neighborhood Association complained about the pallets stored there in July, 2019.  The Fire Marshal said that our concerns were unfounded.

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Photo submitted in July 2019

One of our members complained in a zoom meeting with Fire Marshal Schofield and Fire Chief Jim Miguel in May, 2020.  Chief Miguel agreed that the storage was unsafe, and the pallets were moved over to the 300 E fence, close to plastic barrels of motor oil.

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Photo presented to City Council by Fire Marshal Lynn Schofield, showing about 80 pallets stacked less than 15′ from plastic barrels of motor oil on the site.  May 2020
20200529_PalletsJPGWe complained again in June, this time in writing,  because the pallet were too close to the stored barrels of motor oil and too close to the property line.  We submitted a complaint through <a href=”https://www.provo.org/departments/community-development/zoning/common-zoning-violations”>Provo City’s zoning enforcement website.</a>

The pallets were moved a little farther south, and 7.5′ from the parked semi trailer and 10′ from the property line, thus in compliance the 2018 IFC.  Which allows this spacing for pallet piles of under 50 pallets.

In early August 2020, the oil company began storing a larger number of pallets at this location — greater than 50, which triggered the requirement for a 15′ separation.

As of Thursday, August 6, there were 64 pallets in the pile, thus constituting a violation of fire code and putting neighbors at risk of a pallet fire that could propagate to the wooden-floored truck and the 100 gallon barrel of diesel fuel, and to other combustible items on site.

We sent a personal email to Provo City Fire Chief Jim Miguel, who stated that we were interpreting the code incorrectly, and that pallet spacing distance requirements only applied to pallet storage yards, not general businesses.

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However, a careful reading of the code above demonstrates that it applies to all businesses.  And document produced by the Utah Fire Marshal’s office to introduce the new fire code to Utah Fire Officials also states clearly that the 2018 Fire Code applies to all premises that use wooden pallets.

We will continue to complain.

You can complain too.
1) Fill out a complaint at Provo city’s Code Compliance Website, or
2) Contact Provo City Fire Chief Jim Miguel at jmiguel@provo.org and ask him to ensure that all fire codes are enforced at Christensen Oil.

Posted by Maeser Neighbors for Safety

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