Topic: Industrial Hazards

Conspiracy Theory Brewing Over Chicken Farm Fires Is False, Experts Say

First it was fires in food processing facilities. Now, a seemingly growing number of people are claiming there’s something suspicious about fires occurring at chicken farms across the United States.   “Good morning to everyone except the evil demons purposely screwing with the food supply,” an influential Twitter user who goes by the name Catturd tweeted on January 31. The tweet received more than 22,000 likes and more than 2,000 retweets.   Good morning to everyone except the evil demons purposely screwing with the food supply. — Catturd ™ (@catturd2) January 31, 2023   In an attempt to provide proof that something nefarious is afoot, people like Catturd—who has 1.3 million followers on the popular social media website—have pointed to incidents like a fire that killed 100,000 chickens at a farm in Connecticut on January 28 and a fire in December that killed 250,000 chickens at a farm in Pennsylvania. The fires, these people allege, are most likely a government attempt at disrupting the food supply, leading to situations like the soaring egg prices that have gouged consumers’ wallets in recent months.   Similar claims were made last spring, as many people, including Fox News host Tucker Carlson, purported that a string of fires that had occurred in food processing facilities was suspicious. That conspiracy theory was debunked by NFPA® and others.   Experts say the high egg prices American consumers are seeing today are in reality a result of many factors, such as widespread avian flu and inflation. In other words, they have nothing to do with fires at chicken farms. Furthermore, experts say that, in general, these types of fires should not be seen as anything out of the ordinary. Fires at livestock and poultry production and storage properties are quite common and have been for years. NFPA also offers solutions to the problem.   The numbers don’t lie   According to data included in a recent Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF) report on fires in animal housing facilities, an estimated average of 930 fires occurred annually in livestock or poultry storage properties—which include spaces like barns, stockyards, and animal pens—in the US from 2014 to 2018. An additional average of 750 fires occurred annually in livestock production properties. Combined, that’s more than four fires on average each day.   And these blazes can be exceptionally deadly for the animals housed there. The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), an American nonprofit that supports animal rights, tracks barn fires in particular, and from 2013 to 2017, the AWI reports that more than 325 barn fires occurred in the US, killing nearly 2.8 million animals. Ninety-five percent of the animals killed were chickens.   “When we see fires occurring at poultry storage facilities or at barns, we’re not really seeing anything out of the ordinary,” said Birgitte Messerschmidt, director of the NFPA Research division. “It’s just the opposite, actually. It’s simply the continuation of what we in the world of fire safety and fire statistics have been seeing play out for years.”   “A lot of hazards can exist at livestock and poultry storage and production facilities, so it’s not unusual to see fires occur in these properties,” added Jacqueline Wilmot, a project manager with the FPRF, the research affiliate of NFPA.   Risks & resources     According to the FPRF report, heating equipment is the number one cause of fires in animal housing facilities, with malfunctioning electrical systems coming in at a close second. The lack of smoke alarms and fire sprinklers as well as an abundance of fuel such as hay or straw at many of these locations all work to heighten the fire risk.   One important resource that exists to help limit the number of these fires is NFPA 150, Fire and Life Safety in Animal Housing Facilities Code. Although NFPA 150 has existed in some form since 1979, it wasn’t until 2006 that the scope of the code was expanded beyond racehorse stables. (Read more about NFPA 150 and its origins in “Critter Life Safety Code,” the cover story of the November/December 2018 issue of NFPA Journal.)   Even today, widespread awareness and use of NFPA 150 is lacking. The recent foundation report found that in a survey of 71 individuals who in some way represent the animal housing industry, roughly 60 percent of them had no familiarity with the code. According to NFPA’s CodeFinder® tool, only two states in the US reference NFPA 150, Delaware and Nevada.   An opportunity exists “to create training outreach programs and other fire protection training to better educate animal housing facility owners and staff,” the report says.   In addition to NFPA 150, NFPA also offers a number of barn fire safety tips aimed at consumers, which can be found for free online at nfpa.org/farms. Amid reports that people are rushing to buy their own chickens in the face of high egg prices, stay tuned for another NFPA blog next week that will provide safety tips for anyone looking to build a chicken coop in their backyard.

Winter is Coming. Is Your Facility Protected?

As the seasons change and temperatures cool down, the impacts of freezing weather should be on the top of everyone’s mind—even for those who historically did not have to worry.    In February 2021, for example, a cold snap brought frigid temperatures to Texas, leading to some 250 reported deaths. In January, Florida battled record freezing temperatures, with millions waking up to unprecedented temps in the 20s on some mornings.  Weather like this can affect any industry, from chemical, manufacturing, and construction to oil and gas. Any facility that has outdoor piping, storage, or cooling towers can be at risk. While most colder regions have facilities equipped to deal with cold weather, many central and southern locations are not adequately designed and protected for such low temperatures. Extreme weather events can create conditions that could lead to failing components, if proper protocol is not followed. Failure can depend on equipment exposure to the elements, weatherization, and the combination of cold temperatures, moisture, and precipitation.  We need to realize that a lot of facility equipment can be in danger of extreme cold temperatures. Some chemicals can expand when they drop below their freezing points, which increases the likelihood of their containers rupturing. There could also be damage to the substances themselves, making them harder to use. Some chemicals can even become more volatile due to the cold or cause ingredients to separate. Lines can become permanently blocked when chemicals that typically are pumped throughout the facility become cement-like due to exposure to freezing temperatures. Even though ice problems are rare with natural gas and propane pipelines, they can still exist from alternate sources.   There are multiple NFPA codes and standards that address how to protect equipment and processes from freezing temperatures. A few of those documents—and the relevant requirements found within them—are listed below.   NFPA 2, Hydrogen Technologies Code (2020 edition) Components shall be designed, installed or protected so their operation is not affected by freezing rain, sleet, snow, ice, mud, insects or debris [10.3.1.1]  Pressure relief valves or vent piping shall be designed or located so that moisture cannot collect and freeze in a manner that would interfere with the operation of the device [8.3.1.22.1 and 7.1.5.5.6]   NFPA 51, Standard for the Design and Installation of Oxygen-Fuel Gas Systems for Welding, Cutting, and Allied Processes (2023 edition) Generators shall be protected against freezing. The use of salt or other corrosive chemical to prevent freezing shall be prohibited [8.4.1.3]  Where (acetylene gas holders) not located within a heated building, gas holders shall be protected against freezing [8.4.3.3]  NFPA 58, Liquified Petroleum Gas Code (2020 edition) All regulators for outdoor installations shall be designed, installed or protected so  their operation will not be affected by the elements (freezing rain, sleet, snow, ice, mud or debris) [6.10.1.4]  NFPA 86, Standard for Ovens and Furnaces (2023 edition) Coolant piping systems shall be protected from freezing [8.14.10.2]  If pipeline protective equipment incorporates a liquid, the liquid level shall be maintained, and an antifreeze shall be permitted to prevent freezing [7.3.6.3]  Pressure relief devices or vent piping shall be designed or located so that moisture cannot collect and freeze in a manner that would interfere with operation of the device [21.3.1.2.5.6]  While we cannot always predict if an extreme cold event will occur, we can prepare. As we enter the time of year when we get colder temperatures, ensure that your facility is identifying past and future extreme cold weather events. Research cold events that have happened in warmer regions and identify what NFPA codes and standards can be applied to ensure that your facility is prepared. Inspect your facility to detect and document any deficiencies in cold weather preparedness for equipment. Lastly, when planning, make sure to check out NFPA 1600, Standard on Continuity, Emergency and Crisis Management, for more information. 
Backflow

Backflow Preventer Types

When a fire protection system (non-potable water system) is connected to the public water supply, the systems are said to be cross connected. In some localities, cross connections may be prohibited or closely regulated by health authorities.  Improperly protected water systems have the potential to lead to illness and even in some cases death. Federal regulations require states to provide quality water when it is intended for public consumption. Because of this, states and municipal governments have taken various steps to protect the potable water supply, such as requiring backflow prevention when the fire protection system will be supplied by a potable water source. Backflow preventers are installed to prevent contaminants from traveling from the non-potable source to the potable public drinking supply via back siphonage and back pressure.  Back siphonage is backflow caused by a negative pressure in the supply piping. This negative pressure in the supply piping is similar to drinking water through a straw. The water from the non-potable system is pulled into the supply piping. Backpressure is backflow caused by a pressure in the non-potable water system being greater than the pressure in the potable water supply piping. This higher pressure causes water in the non-potable system to be pushed back into the supply piping.  Its important to note here that the requirement for backflow prevention in a fire protection system comes from the local water authority and not from any NFPA standard. For example, NFPA 13 does not require a backflow preventer for an automatic sprinkler system, however, if one is required, it provides additional requirements to ensure it is installed in a manner that limits its impact on system operation and provides for a means to test the system.  There are a few different types of backflow preventers available, and the type of backflow preventer required by the water authority is going to be based on the degree of hazard posed by the cross connection. The degree of hazard may be classified differently, but the two main degrees include high hazard and low hazard. A high hazard is a system that could introduce waterborne disease organisms, or harmful chemical, physical, or radioactive substances into a public water system, and which presents an unreasonable risk to health. An example of this may be a system that contains an additive, such as a fire protection system with antifreeze, or a foam system. A low hazard is a system that could cause aesthetic problems or have a detrimental secondary effect on the quality of the public potable water supply, an example of this could be a fire sprinkler system that contains stagnant water or contains microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC). The Double Check Valve Assembly (DCVA) and the Reduced Pressure Zone Assembly (RPZA) are the most used backflow preventers for fire protection systems, but I will discuss all the most common backflow preventers used in plumbing systems. An air gap is the most effective type of backflow prevention. This method utilizes a physical air space between the potable and non-potable systems. The most common example of this would be a faucet and a sink. This may be a backflow prevention method used to fill a water supply tank. Air gaps can be used to protect low and high hazards under both back siphonage and backpressure. An Atmospheric Vacuum Breaker Assembly contains an air inlet valve and a check seat. When water flows through, the air inlet valve closes, but when the water flow stops, the air inlet valve falls against the check seat and stops back siphonage, while at the same time letting air into the system. AVBs can only protect against a low or high hazard under back siphonage. The Pressure Vacuum Breaker Assembly is like an atmospheric vacuum breaker, but it contains a spring-loaded air inlet valve and check valve, two shutoffs, and two test cocks. When water is flowing, the check valve is open and air inlet valve is shut, when water stops flowing, the check valve shuts, and air inlet valve opens. The addition of the shutoff valves and test ports allows for this assembly to be field tested. The PVB only protects against low or high hazards under back siphonage. A Double Check Valve Assembly (DCVA) contains two spring-loaded check valves with two shut off valves and four test cocks. In the event of a backflow the first check valve will close, if that check valve fails then the other check valve will close. The addition of the shutoff valves and test ports allow this assembly to be tested. A DCVA can be used to protect against low hazards under both back siphonage and back pressure.   A double check valve detector assembly is the same as a DCVA, but it also includes a bypass for the installation of a water meter to monitor for incidental water use that is also protected with a smaller DCVA.   A Reduced Pressure Zone Assembly (RPZA) provides the maximum protection and along with the DCVA is the most common type of backflow prevention used in fire protection systems. This assembly contains two spring-loaded check valves with a differential relief valve between them and two shut off valves and four test cocks. The RPZA operates like a DCVA with the addition of a relief valve, if there is a backflow the check valves will close, and the relief valve will open, resulting in a reduced pressure zone and air gap between the check valves. The two shut off valves and four test cocks allow this assembly to be field tested as well. The RPZA can be used to protect high and low hazards under both back siphonage and back pressure.    A reduced pressure zone detector assembly is the same as a RPZA, but it includes a bypass for the installation of a water meter to monitor for incidental water use that is also protected with a smaller RPZA. As you can see, there are a few different types of backflow preventers, and the selection of the right preventer is going to depend on the requirements from the local water authority as well as the hazard. When the design of a fire protection system includes a backflow preventor, the designer must make sure that they account for the backflows impact on the available water supply pressure. If a backflow preventor is installed on a fire protection system, it is also important that proper inspection testing and maintenance (ITM) be performed (such as a forward flow test) to ensure that the backflow remains operational and does not seize up, which could impair the fire protection system.
HazMat

NFPA and IBC Occupancy Classifications when Hazardous Materials are Present

Hazardous materials are those chemicals or substances that are classified as a physical hazard material or a health hazard material (see this blog for more information). There's often some confusion around what the appropriate occupancy classification is when hazardous materials are present. Unfortunately, there isn't a straight answer. It is going to depend on what code is applicable in your particular situation. This blog is going to take a closer look at the differences in occupancy classification when using NFPA Codes and the International Building Code (IBC). For some basic information regarding the differences in occupancy classification check out this blog. Before digging into the actual differences between the codes it's helpful to understand the concepts of maximum allowable quantity (MAQ) and control areas. Although NFPA Codes and the IBC both address these concepts in their own documents, the overall approach is similar. For a closer look at how to determine a MAQ using NFPA 1, Fire Code, be sure to look at this blog. NFPA Approach One of the major differences between the way the IBC and NFPA codes address occupancy classification for spaces using hazardous materials, is the actual creation of a unique occupancy classification within the IBC. NFPA codes do not create a separate occupancy classification specific to hazardous materials. Instead, regardless of whether they contain hazardous materials or not, all buildings are given an occupancy classification(s) based on how the space is being used and the expected characteristics of the occupants. Then, if the building contains hazardous materials additional provisions must be met. If the hazardous materials in a given control area exceed the MAQ, additional protections are required. These are called Protection Levels and they range from Protection Level 1 to Protection Level 5. It is important to note that although a building must comply with the additional protection levels, the occupancy classification itself does not change. This means when the MAQ is exceeded and NFPA documents apply, you are required to comply with both the requirements specific to that occupancy as well as the appropriate protection level requirements for that hazardous material. NFPA Approach- Protection Levels Features for Protection Level 1 through Protection Level 3 are intended primarily to provide protection from physical hazards. Protection Level 1 is the highest level of protection. This protection level is required when high hazard Level 1 contents exceed the MAQ. These materials are unstable and can pose a detonation hazard. Examples of high hazard level 1 contents include Class 4 oxidizers; detonable pyrophoric solids or liquids; Class 3 detonable and Class 4 unstable (reactive) solids, liquids, or gases; and detonable organic peroxides. This protection level requires that the materials be stored in a one story in height, detached building that is used for no other purpose. Protection Level 2 is designed to limit the spread of fire from materials that deflagrate or accelerate burning. Additionally, the protection features are designed to limit the potential for fire to spread from an outside source and affect the hazardous materials in the building. This protection level is required when high hazard Level 2 contents exceed the MAQ. These materials present a deflagration hazard or a hazard from accelerated burning. Examples of high hazard Level 2 contents include Combustible dusts that are stored, used, or generated in a manner that creates a severe fire or explosion hazard; Class I organic peroxides; flammable gases; nondetonable pyrophoric solids, liquids, or gases; and Class 3 water-reactive solids and liquids. Protection Level 3 is one of the most common protection levels encountered in the general inspection of storage and industrial operations that use hazardous materials. These types of operations and storage facilities normally operate with amounts of hazardous materials greater than the MAQ while conducting business. This protection level is required when high hazard Level 3 contents exceed the MAQ. These materials readily support combustion or present a physical hazard. Examples of high hazard level 3 contents include Class IIA, Class IIB, and Class III organic peroxides; Class 2 solid or liquid oxidizers; Class 2 unstable (reactive) materials; and oxidizing gases. Protection Level 4 is intended to mitigate the acute health hazards resulting from the storage, use, or handling of high hazard Level 4 materials. These contents include corrosives, highly toxic materials, and toxic materials. The objective is to protect evacuating occupants and arriving first responders from being injured by these hazardous materials. Protection Level 5 applies to semiconductor fabrication facilities. Buildings that require Protection Level 5 must comply with NFPA 318, Standard for the Protection of Semiconductor Fabrication Facilities. IBC Approach The IBC uses a High-Hazard Group H, occupancy classification for buildings that, among others, manufacture, process, generate, or store hazardous materials in excess of the MAQ in a control area. There are 5 sub-categories within the High Hazard Group H occupancy, H-1 through H-5 which closely resemble the protection levels in NFPA documents. IBC Approach- Occupancy Subclassifications H-1 is the subclassification for buildings that contain hazardous materials that pose a detonation hazard. H-2 is the subclassification for buildings that contain hazardous materials that pose a deflagration hazard or a hazard from accelerated burning. H-3 is the subclassification for buildings that contain hazardous materials that readily support combustion or that pose a physical hazard. H-4 is the subclassification for buildings that contain hazardous materials that are health hazards. H-5 is the subclassification for semiconductor fabrication facilities and comparable research and development areas. Although at first glance it seems like NFPA and the IBC handle things extremely different, the overall concepts are actually not all that different. The IBC creates an entirely separate occupancy classification while NFPA uses protection levels. In both cases, compliance with additional provisions is going to be required to minimize the risk associated with the presence of hazardous materials in those quantities.  
HazMat

Determining the Maximum Allowable Quantity (MAQ) of a Hazardous Material

Which code or standard applies to hazardous materials? How much of a particular hazardous material can be stored or used? What floor of the building can that hazardous material be stored or used on? These are all questions some are faced with daily. There is an assumption that people, such as facility managers, building owners, and first responders, just inherently know when a material is a hazardous material. And, that once they know it is a hazardous material, they know how to deal with that material properly and safely. We have seen the potential impacts of materials that are improperly stored or used such as in the 2013 fire and explosion at West Fertilizer Company in Texas. How can we prevent incidents like this from happening? This blog will focus on determining the maximum allowable quantity (MAQ) for a hazardous material per NFPA 1, Fire Code and NFPA 400, Hazardous Materials Code. The eight-step process outlined here, is just one way to determine the MAQ. Step 1: Determine hazardous material classification The first step in identifying the Maximum Allowable Quantity (MAQ) is to determine the category of the hazardous material. NFPA 400 divides hazardous materials into 14 different categories. Using the definitions within the Code, the category or categories of the material must be determined. A hazardous material may fall into more than one category. It is also important to acknowledge that there are additional types of hazardous materials that fall outside the scope of what is intended to be covered by NFPA 400 and thus Chapter 60 of NFPA 1. This includes things like: Flammable and combustible liquids that have no other health hazard covered by NFPA 400 (instead see NFPA 30) LP-gas storage or utilization systems (instead see NFPA 58 or NFPA 59) Storage and use of aerosol products (instead see NFPA 30B) For additional information related to classifying a hazardous material, check out this blog. Step 2: Determine occupancy classification Next, we need to determine the occupancy classification of the area where the hazardous material is going to be stored or used. Different occupancies modify the MAQs so, once we determine the MAQ per the general MAQ table (Table 60.4.2.1.1.3 of the 2021 Edition of NFPA 1), we will need to consult the other appropriate paragraphs (60.4.2.1.2 through 60.4.2.1.5) to see if that quantity is modified in any way. An excerpt of the general MAQ table can be seen below in step 4. Step 3: Determine how the material will be used The next variable that needs to be determined is based on how the material is going to be used. There are two main ways the material could be used. It could be stored, or it could actually be used. The storage use is intended for those instances where a hazardous material is entering the building in a container, cylinder, or tank and will not be removed from the original container, cylinder, or tank. If the hazardous material is being used, you must then identify whether it is being used in a closed system or an open system. A closed use system designation means that, under normal conditions, the hazardous material will not be open to the atmosphere and will be kept within a container, a pipe, or equipment that does not allow vapors to escape into the air. Closed use and storage have very similar risks and are treated the same with respect to MAQ. An open use system designation means that the process involves pouring or dispensing into an open vessel, open mixing, transferring, or processing of a hazardous material that is exposed to the atmosphere. This type of activity is considered the most hazardous and, therefore, is most restricted with respect to an MAQ. Step 4: Determine base maximum allowable quantity The next step is to determine the MAQ. The term "maximum" can be misleading because there are certain conditions that would allow higher amounts of material to be used or stored. The term "MAQ" really means the maximum amount of a material that is permitted in a control area before requiring additional protection. So, it's not really a "maximum", rather a threshold before additional protection requirements would need to be applied. NFPA 1, the Fire Code, has a couple different MAQ tables which are copied from NFPA 400. The applicable table will depend on the occupancy you are in. Generally speaking, you would start with the general MAQ table (Table 60.4.2.1.1.3) and then see if/how the occupancy specific sections modify the table. In the case of a laboratory that is a business office, the code states you are to use the amounts from Table 60.4.2.1.1.3 without using the modifications found in 60.4.2.1.2. In order to best explain how the table and associated footnotes work, we will walk through an example. The space is used as a laboratory but is considered a business occupancy. There are two different hazardous materials. One is classified as an organic peroxide class I and will only be stored. The other will be used in an open system and is classified as water-reactive class 2. Organic Peroxide Class I Using the table, the MAQ for an organic peroxide class I that is to be stored as a solid is 16 lbs (7.26 kg). However, looking at the table there are two applicable footnotes. Applying these footnotes is explained in the next step. Water Reactive Class 2 Using the table, the MAQ for a water reactive class 2 material that is to be used in an open system is 10 lbs (4.54 kg). However, looking at the table there is one applicable footnote. Applying this footnote is explained in the next step Step 5: Apply footnotes Once the base MAQ is determined from the table, adjustments to the MAQ should be made based on the applicable footnotes. Returning to our example: Organic Peroxide Class I Per the table 16 solid lbs (7.26 kg) of a class I organic peroxide are permitted. However, footnote a allows 100% increase where the hazardous material is stored in an approved cabinet, gas cabinet, exhausted enclosure, gas rooms explosive magazines, or safety cans, as appropriate for the material stored. The second footnote, b, allows for a 100% increase if the building is equipped throughout with an automatic sprinkler system. These increases can be used in conjunction with each other as noted in the footnotes. This means the MAQ will depend on what additional features are provided. If the material is not stored in an approved cabinet or similar container and there is no sprinkler system, then the 16 lbs (7.26 kg) from the table stands as the MAQ. If the material is going to be stored in an approved cabinet or other similar container, but the building is not sprinklered then the MAQ is 32 lbs (14.54 kg). 16+(16×1)=32 lbs 7.26+(7.26*1)=14.52 kg This would also be the MAQ if the building was sprinklered but the material wasn't going to be stored in an approved cabinet or other similar container. If the material will be stored in an approved cabinet or other similar container and is in a building equipped with an automatic sprinkler system, then the MAQ is 64 lbs. The original MAQ is 16 lbs (14.52 kg). This is allowed to be increased by 100% because of the use of an approved cabinet: 16+(16×1)=32 lbs 7.26+(7.26*1)=14.52 kg Then that new MAQ, 32 lbs (14.52 kg) is permitted to be increased by 100% because the building is protected throughout with an automatic sprinkler system. This results in an MAQ of 64 lbs (29.04 kg): 32+(32×1)=64 lbs 14.52+(14.52*1)=29.04 kg Water Reactive Class 2 Per the table 10 solid lbs (4.54 kg) of a class 2 water reactive material is permitted. There is only one applicable footnote which allows a 100% increase if the building is equipped with an automatic sprinkler system. In this case if the building has a sprinkler system the MAQ would be 20 lbs (9.08 kg): 10+(10×1)=20 lbs 4.54+(4.54×1)=9.08 kg If the building does not have a sprinkler system, then the MAQ remains 10 lbs (4.54 kg). Step 6: Adjust Based on Control Area Location As I mentioned earlier, the term "MAQ" really means the maximum amount of a material that is permitted in a control area before requiring additional protection. A control area is a building or portion of a building or outdoor area within which hazardous materials are allowed to be stored, dispensed, used, or handled in quantities not exceeding the MAQ. It is possible to have multiple control areas per floor depending on where in the building the control areas are located. The table below can be found in NFPA 1 (and NFPA 400) and dictates how many control areas are permitted per floor depending on the location within the building. This table also identifies the required fire resistance rating for the fire barriers that separate the control area from other control areas and what percentage of the MAQ is permitted based on the location within the building. It is important to note that the fire barriers are required to include floors and walls as necessary to provide complete separation. You'll notice that the further, vertically, from grade, the control area is, the higher the required fire resistance rating is for the separation of control areas and a lower percent of the MAQ is permitted in each control area. This is because the vertical distance increases the time required for emergency responders to reach the incident and increases the difficulty in controlling and resolving it. Returning to our example, the floor ceiling assembly between the 1st and 2nd floor is a fire barrier with a 1-hour fire resistance rating. Therefore, these can be considered two separate control areas. MAQ Floor 1: The MAQ for floor 1 is permitted to be 100% of the MAQ per control area. Therefore, 64 lbs ) of class I organic peroxide is permitted and 20 lbs (9.08 kg) of class 2 water reactive material is permitted. Organic peroxide class I: 64×100%=64 lbs 29.04×100%=29.04 kg Water reactive class 2: 20×100%=20 lbs 9.08×100%=9.08 kg MAQ Floor 2: The MAQ for floor 2 is permitted to be 75% of the MAQ per control area. Therefore, 48 lbs (21.78 kg) of class I organic peroxide is permitted and 15 lbs (6.81 kg) of class 2 water reactive material is permitted. Organic peroxide class I: 64×75%=48 lbs 29.04×75%=21.78 kg Water reactive class 2: 20×75%=15 lbs 9.08×75%=6.81 kg Step 7: Determine if Design is Acceptable The last step is to determine if the proposed design and amounts is acceptable based on the MAQ identified and control area location. Returning to our example, our building requires the storage of 150 lbs (68.1 kg) of class I organic peroxide and the open system use of 12 lbs (5.45 kg) of a class 2 water reactive material in both locations. To determine if our design of one control area on floor 1 and one control area on floor 2 with no additional protection is acceptable, we must compare the amounts of hazardous materials present with the MAQs.   Floor 1: Remember, the MAQs for floor 1 were 64 lbs (29.04 kg) of class I organic peroxide and 20 lbs of class 2 water reactive material. The 12 lbs (5.45 kg) of class 2 water reactive material is acceptable. However, the 150 lbs (68.1 kg) of class I organic peroxide exceeds the MAQ of 64 lbs (29.04 kg). This means a change to our design is necessary. One option is to provide additional protection (see the next step for more information on this). The other option would be to provide additional control areas on the same floor, if permitted per Table 60.4.2.2.1. It is important to remember these additional control areas would need to be separated from each other by fire barriers. In the case of the first floor up to 4 control areas containing 64 lbs (29.04 kg) of the class I organic peroxide are permitted. Therefore, adding two additional control areas and properly separating them would permit the storage of up to 192 lbs (87.17 kg). If the additional control areas are added, then the Protection Level 2 requirements need not be applied.   Floor 2: Remember, the MAQ for floor 2 were 48 lbs of class I organic peroxide and 15 lbs of class 2 water reactive material. The 12 lbs (5.45 kg) of class 2 water reactive material is acceptable. However, the 150 lbs (68.1 kg) of class I organic peroxide exceeds the MAQ of 48 lbs (21.78 kg). Again, this would require a change to our design. Looking at Table 60.4.2.2.1 we see that only 3 control areas are permitted on floor 2. This means that only a total of 144 lbs (65.38 kg) would be permitted on floor 2. Either, we need to add the fire barriers to create the additional control areas and store 6 lbs (2.72 kg) less than what was originally planned, or we need to add additional protection (see the next step for more information on this). Step 8: Apply additional protections, if necessary If the amount of hazardous material cannot be accommodated based on the number of permitted control areas and the MAQ of those control areas, then additional protection is required. There are 5 different protection levels outlined in the code ranging from Protection Level 1 to Protection Level 5.   Protection Level 1 is the highest level of protection. The only way to provide a greater level of protection is to prohibit additional hazardous materials at the site or to move the hazardous materials to a detached building. This protection level is required when high hazard Level 1 contents exceed the MAQ. These materials are unstable and can pose a detonation hazard.   Protection Level 2 is designed to limit the spread of fire from materials that deflagrate or accelerate burning. Additionally, the protection features are designed to limit the potential for fire to spread from an outside source and affect the hazardous materials in the building.   Protection Level 3 is one of the most common protection levels encountered in the general inspection of storage and industrial operations that use hazardous materials. These types of operations and storage facilities normally operate with amounts of hazardous materials greater than the MAQ while conducting business. The protection features should be understood in detail, and the amounts of hazardous materials should be reviewed due to their frequent presence within most jurisdictions. Features for   Protection Level 1 through Protection Level 3 are intended primarily to provide protection from physical hazards.   Protection Level 4 is intended to mitigate the acute health hazards resulting from the storage, use, or handling of high hazard Level 4 materials. These contents include corrosives, highly toxic materials, and toxic materials. The objective is to protect evacuating occupants and arriving first responders from being injured by these hazardous materials.   Protection Level 5 applies to semiconductor fabrication facilities.   Returning to our example, the class I organic peroxide is considered a high hazard protection level 2. Therefore, if the MAQ is to be exceeded then the requirements for Protection Level 2 must be followed. The general requirements for this (and all) protection level(s) can be found in Chapter 6 of NFPA 400. In addition to chapter 6, the appropriate chapters from 11-21 need to be consulted as well as the building code. Examples of additional requirements include required separation of occupancies, shorter travel distance limits and common path of travel limits, and more restrictive requirements relating to the number and access of means of egress. For example, the travel distance limitation for a Protection Level 2 area is 100 ft and the common path of travel is 25 feet. These would generally be more restrictive than what the building code or life safety code would say for a business occupancy. In addition to chapter 6, chapter 14 would need to be reviewed as it has requirements for organic peroxide and the building code. Conclusion This 8-step process is just one way to approach determining the MAQ. It is important to remember that they type of hazardous material, whether the material is going to be stored or used, the occupancy classification, and the location of the control area all impact the MAQ. This means that any proposed change to the material, or the location of the material should be carefully evaluated to ensure quantities still fall below the MAQ, or the necessary additional protection requirements are met. If you are looking for more information on classifying a hazardous material or the applicability of NFPA 400 be sure to check out my other blogs. 

Responding to incidents involving oxidizers takes awareness and planning

Responders are called to an ever-increasing number of diverse types of incidents these days, which makes it difficult to stay prepared and practiced for all the possibilities we may encounter. That especially applies to responding to hazardous materials incidents. So, if you are not on a hazardous materials response team how often do you review and refresh your knowledge on the classes of hazardous materials we encounter in the course of doing the job? Sure, it’s important to keep sharp on fire operations but those calls that we don’t respond to very often can really hurt us or worse. Recent events like the devastating explosion in Beirut, Lebanon give us pause to think about those firefighters who were just doing their jobs and, boom, tragedy happens. This incident makes me think about the impact that oxidizers can have on fire and what they can do when they mix with incompatible material such as organic compounds. Guidelines for safely handling incidents involving oxidizers A good definition of oxidizers can be found in NFPA 400, Hazardous Materials Code, 2022 edition. Oxidizers are: “Any solid or liquid material that readily yields oxygen or other oxidizing gas or that readily reacts to promote or initiate combustion of combustible materials and that can, under some circumstances, undergo a vigorous self-sustained decomposition due to contamination or heat exposure.” Furthermore, oxidizers are broken down into four classes from Class 1, “…does not moderately increase the burning rate…” to Class 4, “…can undergo an explosive reaction due to contamination or exposure to thermal or physical shock…” NFPA 400 provides a wealth of information and can be a helpful resource. Annex E covers Properties and Uses of Ammonium Nitrate and Fire-Fighting Procedures and is included for informational purposes only, but can be a helpful guide when developing department standard operating procedures for handling events that include oxidizers. An additionally helpful chapter is Annex I, Emergency Response Guideline. This chapter speaks to the emergency response training requirements for handling hazardous materials emergencies found in OSHA 29 CFR 1910.120, including the levels of awareness, operations, technician, specialist and incident commander also explained in NFPA 470 Hazardous Materials/Weapons of Mass Destruction Standard for Responders, 2022 edition. Sure, the larger cities have hazmat units to handle all that, but many of our more rural departments may rely on a regional response team who is several miles away or some teams may have to assemble at the station before they respond to your incident, which takes time. Some departments don’t even have that luxury, so what do we do? Oxidizer identification and pre-planning matter One of the first things that is necessary is identification. Identifying what oxidizers look like, how they are identified, and where they exist in your response area is an important step. You can do that by reviewing what the container markings look like and by getting out into your response area on pre-planning trips to learn about what and where they are used and stored. In the case of rail transport, what is traveling through your jurisdiction? I would recommend connecting with the rail transport organizations that have stock rolling through your jurisdiction. Pre-planning is a very important part of keeping your team situationally aware and prepared for an incident at a specific location. When arriving on-scene, the Emergency Responder Guide (ERG) can help Another very useful quick guide is the Emergency Response Guide (ERG). This guidebook created by the US Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, is a guide designed to provide important information to responders in the first minutes of an incident. The guide is set up with separately colored pages that provide important information about material identification, classification, attributable hazards, and response and evacuation guidelines. For example, information on general oxidizers can be found in Guide #140. In this yellow page portion of the document, you will find information on potential hazards such as fire or health, what considerations to make on protective clothing, evacuation measures to consider, emergency response actions in the case of spill or fire, and first aid measures to take if exposed. The information found on this guide page and others can be reviewed with your team in a quick drill format and be a useful refresher on dealing with oxidizers. Another example of what can happen when oxidizers are exposed to heat is an incident that occurred May 28, 2013 in Rosedale, Maryland when a three-axle roll-off straight truck entered a grade level train crossing and was struck by an oncoming freight train. Fifteen of the train cars derailed with three of the cars carrying hazardous materials. Two of the cars spilled their contents, including an oxidizer and an organic acid, resulting in fire. The heat from the fire caused the oxidizer to explode early into the fire. Fortunately, the responding units had not arrived, or the results might have been tragic. Additional information about this accident may be found in the investigation report, which can be accessed at the NTSB website under report number NTSB/HAR-14/02. Slow down and be cautious So especially when responding to bulk storage units or large capacity transportation rail cars, use the utmost caution until you can verify the identity of the contents contained within. Based on the reports of the first due units trained to identify railcars carrying chemicals such as oxidizers, they can alert other incoming units and help initiate the appropriate action plan. Remember when responding into a potential hazardous materials incident: slow down and take some time to look for signs that indicate what you may be dealing with before getting into a potentially career ending event. Take the time to refresh on the basic types of hazardous materials and what their characteristics are. Especially with oxidizers, remember that when exposed to other types of organic compound they can react explosively and when exposed to heat they can explode. It’s all part of situational awareness. Be aware and be safe.
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