NFPA Standards Council bans use of antifreeze in sprinkler systems for new residential construction

Blog Post created by mikehazell Employee on Aug 23, 2010

The NFPA Standards Council has banned the use of antifreeze solution in residential fire sprinkler systems for new construction until further action by NFPA consensus standards committees, and NFPA has issued a follow-up to its July 2010 safety alert to provide updated guidance on the use of antifreeze in residential fire sprinkler systems. The council action and updated alert follow new research that was conducted after a fire incident raised concerns about antifreeze solutions in residential fire sprinkler systems. The incident involved a grease fire in a kitchen where a sprinkler with a high concentration of antifreeze deployed. The fire resulted in a single fatality and serious injury to another person.

“Fire sprinklers are one of the most effective ways to save lives and property from fire,” said NFPA President Jim Shannon. “We have acted quickly to conduct additional research in order to provide the public and our technical committees with as much information as possible regarding the use of antifreeze in sprinkler systems.”

According to NFPA, the home is the place where most fire fatalities occur, and when sprinklers are present, the risk of dying in a home fire decreases by 83%.

Mr. Shannon said the key findings from the new report were:

  • Antifreeze solutions with concentrations of propylene glycol exceeding 40% and concentrations of glycerin exceeding 50% have the potential to ignite when discharged through automatic sprinklers.
  • Both the 40% propylene glycol and 50% glycerin solutions demonstrated similar performance to that of water alone for fire control throughout the series of tests.
  • Based on the results of this research, antifreeze solutions of propylene glycol exceeding 40% and glycerin exceeding 50% are not appropriate for use in residential fire sprinkler systems.
  • Consideration should be given to reducing the acceptable concentrations of these antifreeze solutions by an appropriate safety factor.

Read NFPA's news release and updated Safety Alert on this topic.