New Fire Code Regulations Set to Go Into Effect in Many States in 2015 – Is Your Lab Ready?

fire code regulations
Fire Code Regulations are changing soon. Make sure your lab is prepared for the transition.
Image source: Flickr user DVIDSHUB

Although chemicals are vital to laboratory operations, they can be hazardous to the nearby community if they are not handled properly. The state of Massachusetts understands how dangerous chemicals can be and are implementing new fire code regulations next year in order to reduce the risk of accidents, like the one that occurred in Danvers, Massachusetts, on November 22, 2006.

Although the exact cause of the accident is unknown, what is known is that an ink-mixing tank that contained flammable solvent was left on overnight at the CAI Inc. manufacturing plant. The container eventually reached a tipping point and the chemicals caught fire. The result was an explosion equivalent to a 2000 lb. bomb detonating. To make matters worse, the plant was located near a residential area.

Fortunately, nobody was hurt although there was millions of dollars in damage to houses in the area. After the blast, an investigative report noted that the plant was in violation of a number of chemical safety regulations and that regulators had not ever properly inspected the plant. It also stated that the explosion might have been prevented if fire inspectors had been informed of the chemicals and inspected them.

The blast ultimately prompted the Massachusetts State legislature to join nearly 20 other states in adopting National Fire Protection Association Standard 1 code as state law. When it takes effect on January 1, 2015, the fire code will require greater communication between fire personnel and companies that use chemicals, including regular inspections of chemical operations and storage.

Complying with these additional regulations will place an even larger regulatory responsibility on laboratories that are struggling with other chemical regulations like the existing Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act and the Toxic Substance Control Act.

Keeping track of the details among this plethora of laws can be difficult. If your laboratory is struggling with regulatory compliance, you might want to consider implementing a chemical inventory management system. Such a system can provide the ability to track the locations of chemicals, the quantities that are currently stored and information regarding the hazards related to each. It then can reduce regulatory burdens in the following ways:

  • Report Creation – Assuming that all of the chemicals are properly tracked, a chemical inventory management system can be used to easily generate any necessary regulatory reports. These can then be distributed to fire personnel, either electronically or as hard copies.
  • Safety Data Sheet Tracking – In addition to regulatory reports, chemical inventory management systems are also capable of digitally tracking safety data sheets for chemicals. This ensures that personnel and first responders have readily available pertinent information regarding the dangers associated with each chemical that may be stored at a location.
  • Track Other Information – In addition to report generation and safety data sheet tracking, chemical inventory management systems can also be configured to track other important details, such as the last chemical safety fire inspection or other similar audits. This helps ensure that laboratories are up to date with compliance with all necessary regulations.

The National Fire Protection Association Standard 1 Fire Code and other similar chemical regulations are becoming more of the common standard, particularly at the state level. Laboratories need to be proactive in addressing risks while also carefully managing their bottom line. A chemical inventory management system can help with both, ensuring regulatory compliance with manageable out-of-pocket expense.

For more information on BIOVIA CISPro, a best practices chemical inventory management system, please visit our website today.

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