More people are discovering that an office in the farm shop complex works well. Such a space gets paperwork and farm business out of the house, and makes it convenient to work in the office yet keep a finger on the pulse of the farm during the day. But what if you feel it’s riskier to have important paperwork stored in the office either inside or next to the shop? There is a higher chance of fire there.
Jim Beaty, superintendent of the Purdue University Agronomic Center for Research and Education, found a way to sleep better at night knowing he has a protection system in place. ACRE’s office attaches to the shop at one end of the building. Even though the complex is located on a Purdue farm, it’s built and used much like any farm shop and office you might find on any farm, including yours.
Beaty arranged to install an overhead door on the shop side of the regular door leading from the shop to the office. The overhead door is more than just a regular door — it’s constructed so that it can act as a firewall and seal off the shop from the office in case of a fire.
“I did it to buy an extra hour of time in a fire,” Beaty says. “It won’t stop an uncontrolled fire, but slows the burn time and immediate spread. Hopefully the fire department can knock [the fire] down before it reaches the office and destroys records.”
How it works
The overhead door is normally raised. However, Steve Zachariah, who manages the farm shop at ACRE, says there are two situations that would cause the door to activate itself and close. Once closed, it acts as a barrier to temporarily protect one side of the building from what might be going wrong in the other side.
“If the electricity goes off for any reason or backup battery goes dead, the overhead door automatically closes,” he says. “That’s a feature of the system.”
REDUCE RISK: Steve Zachariah manages the farm shop at Purdue’s ACRE near West Lafayette, Ind. Features such as a fire door, which would trigger in case of emergency, reduce risk of loss, he notes.
The other way it would trigger to close, he notes, is if an actual fire produced excessive heat. A piece on the door control would melt, releasing the door, Zachariah says. In either case, the door closes, and since it’s embedded in steel girders on all three sides of the door above the floor, it becomes a firewall.
The connecting wall must also have double-thick drywall to achieve a fire rating, Beaty says. Should a fire start in the office, the system also would function and close the door, protecting the shop.
Beaty chose an Overhead Door brand metal fire door.
Zachariah recently showed the door and explained its operation to insurance agents who visited as part of a conference to learn more about agriculture and the risks associated with it. The agents who attended sell insurance to farmers and write policies that provide financial protection in case of a calamity, such as a fire. They were part of the Independent Insurance Agents of Indiana group.