Topic: Building & Life Safety

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.  
Inside a warehouse

Do you manage large warehouse facilities, or design, inspect or insure them? Help us define the elevated walkways in storage warehouses to quantify their impact on sprinkler protection by participating in this questionnaire

Solid and open metal grate walkways are often installed in aisles as part of rack storage in large warehouse facilities. Further, open metal grates are also used as mezzanine levels above storage. Although functional to carry out warehouse operations, there is little information on how these walkway and mezzanine installations impact current storage protection requirements. When is this type of installation considered a problem from a sprinkler protection standpoint? At what point do walkways interfere with prewetting of adjacent arrays? To answer these questions, the Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF) initiated a multi-phase research program, through the support of FPRF’s Property Insurance Research Group, which aimed to develop guidance on the protection of storage when solid or open metal grate walkways are present in storage warehouses.  FPRF, in collaboration with Fire & Risk Alliance, is currently on Phase II of the project which is focused on filling the knowledge gaps identified in Phase I and implementing the research and testing plan to provide guidance back to the NFPA 13 technical committee on walkway/sprinkler interface criteria that is well founded in sprinkler performance. For more information, a summary of this project is available here. A fundamental element of success for this study is to collect information on current warehouse configurations to gain insight into the status quo characteristics of elevated walkways/mezzanines and how storage protection may be changing. Thus, we invite facility owners, AHJ’s, insurers, engineers, and other relevant parties to participate in this international questionnaire conducted as part of this study by the Fire Protection Research Foundation. The questions seek to identify and categorize the types and non-proprietary characteristics of elevated walkways in storage warehouses, specifically focused on storage configurations, stored commodities, details of mezzanine/walkways, sprinkler system details, loss history (if any), and photographs or drawings. This information will be used to ensure our analysis of sprinkler interaction with or disruption by elevated walkways is representative of real-world warehouse configurations. Your participation in this research questionnaire is voluntary. You may skip any question that you are not able to answer. Any information provided through this survey is completely anonymous. If you design, work in, inspect, or insure warehouses with elevated walkway installations, we ask that you participate in this survey. It is estimated that the survey will take approximately 10 minutes or less to complete. The deadline to complete the questionnaire is August 31, 2022. Thank you in advance for your participation!

Fire Fighter Safety Building Marking Systems

There are two main ways in which fire fighters currently receive information about fire protection features and construction types of a building they are responding to. The first is from a pre-incident plan (see NFPA 1620 for information about pre-incident planning) which is available as a result of prior building inspection and the second is through signage on the building. The most widely adopted signage which most fire fighters are familiar with is the NFPA 704 hazard diamond, which provides information about hazardous materials present and the fire, health, instability and special hazards which they pose. However, there is a lesser-known marking system that has been developed and incorporated in Appendix C of NFPA 1, which if utilized can provide fire fighters the basic information about fire protection features and building construction quickly and concisely as they’re arriving on scene of an emergency. Let’s look at why this type of marking system is important to fire fighters. Modern buildings are designed with fire protection features to protect both occupants and the building itself. Some of these features provide active protection, such as fire suppression systems, while others provide passive protection such as fire resistive construction. The required protection level is dictated by the codes incorporated by reference into law by the authority having jurisdiction at the time the building was designed and constructed, or under a retroactive requirement after the building is occupied. The specific fire protection features in a building, combined with the construction type will play a role in the tactical approaches to suppressing a fire in that building. So, having this information quickly and concisely displayed on the exterior of the building can enhance the fire department’s effectiveness. Although some states have adopted signs identifying construction type and location of truss construction, the fire fighter safety building marking system (FSBMS) in Appendix C of NFPA 1 goes further to include the hazard level of the contents, presence of fire sprinkler and standpipe systems, occupancy and life safety issues and other special designations. What does it look like?   The Maltese cross, which draws its origins from the Knights of Malta, has been widely adopted as a symbol of the fire service. The eight-pointed cross can be easily identified by its curved arcs between the points which all converge on a center circle. The FSBMS utilizes a rating system in each of the arms of the cross and the center circle to concisely display the hazard level, fire suppression systems, occupancy life safety issues and special hazards of a given building. The image above is an example of a FSBMS symbol. These signs should be located “in a position to be plainly legible and visible from the street or road fronting the property or as approved by the fire department.” To aide in visibility the signs should incorporate a white reflective background and black lettering.  Now let’s look at what each of the letters in the four sections of the cross identify. Rating System Construction Type The construction type is identified utilizing letter combinations in the top section of the Maltese cross as follows: FR — Fire-resistive construction NC — Noncombustible construction ORD — Ordinary construction HT — Heavy timber construction C — Combustible construction These construction types provide firefighters a general understanding of how well the building will resist collapse under fire conditions. Fire resistive construction would theoretically resist collapse the longest and combustible construction has the potential for the earliest collapse. Hazards of Contents The hazard of the building’s contents as it relates to fire conditions will be displayed on the left section of the Maltese cross as follows: L — Low hazard. Low hazard contents shall be classified as those of such low combustibility that no self-propagating fire therein can occur. M — Moderate hazard. Moderate hazard contents shall be classified as those that are likely to burn with moderate rapidity or to give off a considerable volume of smoke. H — High hazard. High hazard contents shall be classified as those that are likely to burn with extreme rapidity or from which explosions are likely. The hazard level will provide fire fighters with a general idea of how rapidly a fire will grow and spread through the building contents. This information can be used to anticipate the amount of water and firefighting resources needed to effectively control the fire. Automatic Fire Sprinkler and Standpipe System The presence of automatic fire sprinklers and standpipe systems will be displayed in the right section of the cross as follows: A — Automatic fire sprinkler system installed throughout P — Partial automatic fire sprinkler system or other suppression system installed S — Standpipe system installed N — None The general understanding of what active fire suppression systems are located in the building will guide firefighter’s tactics including apparatus positioning and hose line selection. Occupancy/Life Safety Issues The occupancy and life safety issues will be displayed in the lower section of the cross as follows: L — Business, industrial, mercantile, residential, and storage occupancies M — Ambulatory health care, assembly, educational, and day care occupancies H — Detention and correction facilities, health care, and board and care occupancies This information about building occupants/occupancy type will allow firefighters to gauge the difficulty in evacuating occupants from the building. The L occupancies representing those where the occupant load is lower, and occupants can most effectively evacuate unassisted. The M is of moderate concern where the occupant load is higher and/or the occupants may need additional assistance due to age or health conditions. The H is of high concern where the occupants may not be able to self-evacuate and considerable resources will be needed to evacuate the building. Special Hazards The center circle has been left empty to allow the inclusion of special hazards or provisions. This may be a location to include such things as truss type construction or even the hazardous materials information for example an NFPA 704 diamond, as long as the provisions for size of 704 are met. Summary Having the information on construction type, hazard level of contents, presence of sprinkler and standpipe systems and occupancy/life safety issues has the potential to enhance the effectiveness of firefighters arriving on scene. These responders would be equipped with the knowledge needed to best address an emergency in the building. States which have incorporated NFPA 1 into law should take the extra step to specifically name Annex C in the incorporating ordinance, thus incorporating a national standard the firefighter safety building marking system into law in their jurisdictions. Unless specifically incorporated by refence the FSBMS in Annex C would be a recommendation rather than a requirement. A national system has the potential to increase firefighter effectiveness while decreasing the number of fire fighter injuries and deaths by providing important information quickly and concisely as they arrive on scene. 

Fire Protection Research Foundation publishes “Firefighting Foams: Fire Service Roadmap” report

Fire incidents involving flammable liquids have historically resulted in dire consequences. Incidents can occur in aircraft hangars, shipboard spaces, flammable liquids fueling facilities, large fuel storage tanks, and other settings and can range from small, short spill fires to large tank farm fires which can burn for multiple days. A prominent example of the latter is the Intercontinental Terminals Company Deer Park petrochemical facility fire in Texas in March 2019. That fire started on March 17 and was finally brought under control on March 23. Class B firefighting foams are the primary agents used for the vapor suppression and extinguishment of flammable liquid fires in both manual and fixed system applications. Firefighting foams form a film and/or a blanket of bubbles on the surface of flammable liquids and prevent the fuel vapors and oxygen from interacting and creating a flammable mixture. For nearly five decades, Aqueous Film Forming Foams (AFFF) have been used as the dominant and effective Class B firefighting foam. Prior to the adoption of AFFF, the primary agent for flammable liquid firefighting was Protein Foams, which are derived from the hydrolysis of protein products and then delivered as aspirated foam to produce a smothering blanket of foam bubbles on the fuel surface. AFFF contains fluorosurfactants (per- and poly- fluoroalkyl substances [PFAS]) that provide the essential characteristics of fuel repellency, heat stability, low surface tension, and positive spreading coefficient so that an aqueous film formation can be formed on the fuel surface. AFFF has traditionally been recognized for its effective fire control characteristics. However, today these foams are now of significant concern in light of potential adverse health and environmental impact. The potential environmental, safety and occupational health risks associated with the use of fluorosurfactants such as some PFAS present in AFFFs started to become evident to the scientific community in the early 2000s. The unique chemical nature of the carbon-fluorine bond in PFAS make some of these compounds persistent, bio accumulative, toxic and have emerged as “contaminants of concern” as considered by the EPA. As a result, the ability to use AFFF to extinguish Class B fires continues to be greatly restricted due to bans in numerous States in the United States and in countries across the world such as Australia. Recently, Federal and State authorities have implemented health and environmental regulatory actions for PFAS and PFAS-containing AFFF. These regulations will ultimately impact, if not eliminate the production, distribution, and use of legacy AFFF in upcoming years. As more regulations come into place to address this issue, fire departments and other industrial end users are seeking AFFF replacements. In the meantime, the capabilities and limitations of the replacement foams and agents are continuing to be investigated through various research and testing programs to better understand their characteristics and effectiveness for various applications. The Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF), the research affiliate of NFPA, facilitated a research testing program (2018-20) to evaluate the fire protection performance and effectiveness of multiple fluorine free Class B firefighting foams on fires involving hydrocarbon and alcohol fuels. This study provided guidance to inform the foam system application standard, i.e., NFPA 11, Standard for Low−, Medium−, and High− Expansion Foam based on the testing conducted at the time of this research, and identified knowledge gaps and research needs so that we can better understand the capabilities and limitations of fluorine free foams. Additionally, there are multiple other ongoing research efforts. There are research programs led by the US Department of Defense’s SERDP and ESTCP underway, including  testing on the development of PFAS-free firefighting formulations, studying the fire suppression performance and ecotoxicology of these formulations as well as the cleaning technologies for firefighting equipment. LASTFIRE (Large Atmospheric Storage Tank Fires), an international industrial end user consortium, has also been focusing on the selection and use of firefighting foams for large storage tank applications. Additionally, the Firefighter Cancer Cohort Study is developing a national framework to collect and integrate firefighter epidemiologic surveys, biomarkers, and exposure data focused on carcinogenic exposures and health effects. Part of the long-term cohort study will look at the health effects of firefighters that have been routinely exposed to firefighting foams during their activities and careers. Clearly, this is a complex problem, with concerns that include fire control/extinguishing performance, health exposure, and environmental contamination. And for the fire service, challenging Class B flammable liquid fires are not going away and must be addressed. The learning from these ongoing studies have been promising and demonstrate a step in the right direction to develop a full understanding of this complex problem so that we can transition to firefighting foams of the future without experiencing “substitution regret” (i.e., to avoid multiple repeated replacements over time). The Fire Protection Research Foundation recently published the report titled “Firefighting Foams: Fire Service Roadmap.” This project was initiated with the funding support from FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program, with an overall goal to provide guidance to the fire service community by developing a roadmap to transition from AFFFs to a suitable, environmentally friendly, non-toxic, and effective alternative. The roadmap document is based on the information available at the time of the program. The roadmap and associated documentation have been assembled in a systematic path that covers current regulations, considerations for transitioning to replacement foam, cleaning of equipment and disposal of effluents and legacy concentrates, foam selection and implementation considerations, minimizing firefighter exposures, and ways to handle foam discharged from a cleanup and documentation perspective. A key element of this project entailed a three-day virtual workshop hosted by the FPRF late last year, October 2021. Subject matter experts delivered 28 presentations on the state of knowledge and related issues. If you missed this FPRF workshop, please visit the project website for workshop presentations, and final proceedings. Did you know the Research Foundation is celebrating its 40th year in existence in 2022? Learn more about this noteworthy milestone at www.nfpa.org/fprf40.
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. 

Women in STEM panel discussion provides support and inspiration for women pursuing their professional goals

At the Women in STEM education session, a panel of female leaders from various fire and life safety organizations discussed the influence women currently have on the industry and the future anticipated changes for women in the fire safety world. The featured panelists included Chief Trisha Wolford, fire chief, Anne Arundel County FD; Tonya Hoover, deputy fire administrator, USFA; Danielle Antonellis, founder & executive director, Kindling; and Diana Jones, senior director of technical programs and development, International Safety Equipment Association. Jones made a special presentation performing a re-enactment of Frances Perkins, who served as a factory inspector in New York when the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire broke out. Perkins went on to become the U.S. secretary of labor from 1933-1945, fiercely advocating for safer working conditions and employee protections. From there, the panelists answered attendees’ questions, providing insights and perspectives from their own experiences over the years, along with their approach to facing challenges and struggles. Key messages included the importance of recognizing your vulnerabilities and embracing rather than fighting them. “We all go through struggles to get where we want to be,” said Hoover. “Don’t be afraid to say, ‘I don’t know.’” The presenters also encouraged women to not assume that when someone treats them poorly it’s because they’re a woman. “It could be one of many reasons,” said Wolford. “And let’s face it, some people are just jerks!” Hoover’s advice was to deal with someone in the moment, then move on and let it go. The presenters also encouraged women in the fire service not to limit themselves. Determine what your unique skill set is and where you can bring the greatest good. When asked what can be done to attract women into executive officer positions, Wolford said she makes sure the women on her staff have the support to reach whatever role they want. Being a mother, for example, should not set limits on professional opportunities. The honesty and straight-forwardness of the panels’ insights and perspectives made for an inspiring event that hopefully encourages more women to confidently pursue their professional goals and passions in the world of fire and life safety.
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