Kristin Bigda

NFPA 1: Hazardous Materials, an Intro. #firecodefridays

Blog Post created by Kristin Bigda Employee on Jun 3, 2016

A significant portion of NFPA 1, Fire Code, is provisions related to hazardous materials.  The scope of the Code, as addressed in Section 1.1.1, states that NFPA 1 addresses, among other areas:

(12) Storage, use, processing, handling, and on-site transportation of flammable and combustible gases, liquids, and solids

(13) Storage, use, processing, handling, and on-site transportation of hazardous materials


In fact, Chapter 60 through 75 (156 pages worth of code text!) contains requirements that address storage, use, processing, handling and transportation of various types of hazardous materials; aerosol products, compressed gases, corrosive materials, flammable and combustible liquids, LP Gas, and more.


Understanding how to apply the provisions for hazardous materials can be complex.  There are several key terms that must be understood before attempting to decipher the Code.


1. Maximum Allowable Quantity (MAQ). The quantity of hazardous material permitted in a control area.  This term is deceiving.  NOTE! --> While the term is referred to as "maximum", it really means that the material allowed is the maximum quantity per control area before requiring additional protection.  So, its not really a "maximum", rather a threshold before additional code requirements kick in.


2. Control Area. 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 maximum allowable quantities (MAQ).


3. Protection Level. While not an officially defined term in the Code, where the quantity of hazardous materials in storage or use exceeds the MAQ for indoor control areas, the occupancy is required comply with additional protection requirements set forth in the Code (Protection Level 1, 2, 3 or 4.)


Chapter 60 of NFPA 1 contains general requirements for the protection of occupancies with hazardous materials in storage and use.  There are three conditions to understand the general application of Chapter 60:

1. Storage, use, and handling of hazardous materials in quantities not exceeding maximum allowable quantities permitted in control areas set forth in Section shall be in accordance with Section 60.1 through Section 60.5.

2. Storage, use, and handling of hazardous materials in quantities in excess of the maximum allowable quantities permitted in control areas set forth in shall comply with Section 60.2 through Section 60.6.

3. Chapter 60 shall apply in its entirety to all hazardous materials except where Chapters 61 through 75 of this Code specify that only certain sections of this chapter shall apply to a specific material classification category.


Chapter 61 through 75 contain requirements to specific types of hazardous materials (for example, Chapter 63 contains requirements for compressed gases and cryogenic fluids.)  Most of these provisions are extracted into NFPA 1 from the respective NFPA documents  (NFPA 30, Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code; NFPA 58, Liquefied Petroleum Gas Code...)  Each hazardous material chapter will state, in the beginning of the Chapter, its application with regards to Chapter 60 and the referenced NFPA documents.


For example:

Chapter 63 Compressed Gases and Cryogenic Fluids* The installation, storage, use, and handling of compressed gases and cryogenic fluids in portable and stationary containers, cylinders, equipment, and tanks in all occupancies shall comply with the requirements of Chapter 63; NFPA 55, Compressed Gases and Cryogenic Fluids Code; and Sections 60.1 through 60.4 of this Code.


Understanding the application of the requirements for hazardous materials in NFPA 1 is an important first step in enforcing the Code. Future posts will highlight more specific requirements for hazardous materials and take a deeper look at the provisions in Chapter 60 through 75.  Happy #firecodefridays!