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Pallet Racking and Permits|Everything you Need to Know



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In most municipalities you’ll need a building permit to install and use a pallet racking system. Some municipalities only require a permit under certain circumstances, i.e. if the top of the storage will exceed 12 feet or if the Fire Code requires the area to be sprinklered. Depending on your jurisdiction, the process and requirements to obtain that permit can differ. The ones outlined below are common to most municipalities.

If your pallet racking system incorporates a mezzanine component, (a multi-level pick tower, for example), then you’ll likely require an approved development permit before you can even submit your building permit. Typical racking systems only require a building permit.

This article only deals with the building permit process. 



If your building permit submission is complete and in accordance with code, it can you usually be approved within two to four weeks. If the documentation you submit is incomplete or inaccurate, then you will need to re-do the permitting application. Development permits require approvals from multiple City departments and can take more than four months. It is very important to consider these timelines when planning your project, and the earlier your start, the better.

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Steps to obtaining a Building Permit for your Pallet Racking System 

1) First, you’ll need to ensure that the pallet racking system is structurally capable of supporting the intended loads. You will need to submit stamped engineered drawings with your permit application. The engineering firm will need the following in order to do their work:

  • Site plan drawings 
  • CAD drawings of the building with plan and elevation views of the racking system within the building layout 
  • Load dimensions, weights, and characteristics 
  • System component specifications and load ratings from the manufacturer 
  • Concrete slab specifications

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2) You must ensure that the fire suppression system is adequate for the intended pallet rack system based on the materials being stored, and in accordance with NFPA 13. Before any permits are issued, you’ll need to submit a stamped engineered letter, detailing that the Fire Suppression system is adequate. The fire suppression engineer will need the following in order to do their work:

  • Site plan drawings, indicating all exits 
  • CAD drawings of the building with plan and elevation views of the racking system within the building layout 
  • Product classes and characteristics being stored in the racking system 
  • Current fire system specifications 
  • If the sprinkler system is being modified or upgraded, then you will need stamped drawings showing the system design. 

3) Ensure that the racking layout does not conflict with the Alberta Fire Code, particularly Section 3, which deals with storage systems. Most commonly you must ensure that:

  • There are adequate aisle ways within the floor plan
  • Travel distances to exits do not exceed 45 meters in a sprinklered building
  • Fire hoses and cabinets are accessible and unencumbered 
  • Exits are properly identified and are not blocked or impeded 
  • Emergency lighting is provided at all exits 

4) Ensure that the Concrete Floor Slab is adequate for the intended Pallet Rack system. The engineering company will need details of the floor slab (thickness, MPa, and possibly the density) in order to determine if it is capable of withstanding the point loads from the racking columns. In newer buildings, this information is often available from the builder or landlord; otherwise, the slab can be cored and tested at a lab to determine its characteristics. In seismic areas, the engineering firm will also require Geotechnical Data on the soil beneath the slab.

5) Once you have all the necessary information above, you can fill out the City permit application, the asbestos abatement form, and the other documents specified on the permit application and take it to City Hall. Applications must be submitted in person.

6) Once submitted, you will have a receipt / copy of the Permit Application that shows the pending Permit Number. This number can be used to track the permit through the approval process.

It is very important to note that this receipt does not constitute approval. More importantly, without an approved permit, you are not allowed to begin installing the racking system. This has proven to be a big oversight for companies who have not included the approval process into their construction or relocation timeline. 

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If your building is under construction and has not been turned over by the General Contractor, the General Contractor usually will not allow for the erection of the system. If you have control of your building, and choose to install the racking prior to receiving an approved permit, you may be subject to fines and facility shut down.

7) After the system has been installed, the engineering group will need to inspect the installation of the system to ensure it was installed correctly and as per the original sealed drawings. It is important to install the racking exactly as indicated on the drawings submitted with your permit application. If everything is to the engineer's approval, they will issue a Schedule C3.

8) Call the City to schedule a site inspection to sign off on your permit.

Do not make changes to your system prior to the City Inspector’s approval of your permit. If the inspector finds that changes have been made, he will require updated drawings and engineering before approving your permit. Have your C3 Schedule and all other documentation available for the City Inspector.


 For More Information on the Permitting Process


Is all this Permit stuff really necessary? 

Although it’s tempting to avoid the hassles of getting a Building Permit for your pallet racking system, let’s take a look at what can happen if you install a system without one.



The building permit process is in place to ensure that the applicable Building and Fire Codes are adhered to in the design, engineering, and installation of the system. In jurisdictions where a permit is not required, the business owner is still ultimately responsible to ensure that the facility and the structures within the facility meet code.

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Racking systems support thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of pounds of material, and need to withstand the forces generated while in use. Building Codes deal with how the racking system needs to be engineered, manufactured, and installed to ensure they are adequate and safe.

Fire Codes detail how to properly and safely store materials of various classifications and also provide design rules so that people can escape in case of a fire and fire fighters can effectively access and safely control a potential fire. The Fire Codes also determine the type and size of fire suppression equipment required in the facility.

The suitability and condition of the components used, together with the design, engineering, and installation of the system, are what ensures the overall safety of the system. A defect or failure in any of these areas can result in a rack collapse, an unmanageable fire, inadequate emergency egress for workers, or dangerous conditions for fire fighters. Any of these conditions present potentially fatal results.


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Legal Considerations 

Section 217.1 of the Criminal Code of Canada (formerly Bill C-45) states the following: 

"217.1 Everyone who undertakes, or has the authority, to direct how another person does work or performs a task is under a legal duty to take reasonable steps to prevent bodily harm to that person, or any other person, arising from that work or task."

Clearly, as an owner, employer, or supervisor, you're responsible to ensure a safe work environment for your employees. Failure to do so can result in criminal charges.


Be Prepared 

During routine inspections, or in the event of an accident involving your racking system, inspectors can request to see the engineering behind the system and your permit approvals. If you don’t have them, they have the right to shut down your operation until you are able to provide them.


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If you are moving, adding a location, expanding your existing operation, or even purchasing an existing business then you must apply for a Business Licence for that facility.  An inspection of your facility is a mandatory requirement of the approval process for obtaining a business licence, and if you have a racking system, the inspector will want to see your approved building permit that includes the racking system before your facility will pass the inspection.

If you do not have a building permit for your racking system when the inspector asks for it, you may be in a very bad situation. You could be subject to fines and your business operations could be shut down while you go through the details in the steps above.

During the process of obtaining the building permit, you will have to correct any deficiencies noted by the inspector. For example, remove any damaged components, provide adequate flu spacing, and properly align, plumb, and anchor frames, etc.

In the worst case scenario, if for some reason you are not able to obtain the necessary engineering for your system, or if the fire suppression system, or the floor slab is found to be inadequate, then you may have no choice but to upgrade or replace those items.


Permitting is key in obtaining coverage from insurance companies. Insurance companies will not cover claims on facilities that are not properly licensed or don’t meet code. If you proceed without a permit, your insurance could be denied or cancelled.


Building and Fire Code 

Some municipalities don’t require a building permit for pallet racking systems. However, in all cases the Building Code and the Fire Code for the province still exists and will apply. It is the owner’s responsibility to ensure that their facility and all structures within it meet code. The municipal permit process exists to ensure code is met.

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Be Proactive 

At cam|industrial, we collaborate with our customers to design and engineer effective and efficient pallet racking solutions that comply with all the necessary local codes. Our Turnkey Solutions include the management of the permit process to mitigate your risks and ensure the project timelines are met. Call us for a consultation on your project!

 or to request a Quote.