It is the policy of the University to use the recommendations contained in the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Codes as minimum guidelines to acceptable practices on Campus. A number of the NFPA Codes have been incorporated into the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) Standards, the North Carolina State Building Code, or are mandated as a condition of insurance coverage by the North Carolina Department of Insurance. Questions regarding the applicability of specific NFPA Codes should be directed to the University Safety and Risk Management Office.
The purpose of this policy statement is to list the basic standards for the storage and use of flammable and combustible liquids applicable to Campus operations. The standards listed here are by no means comprehensive but represent those cited most frequently during inspections of Campus facilities.
A laboratory or shop unit is defined as a room, or suite of rooms, separated from adjacent areas by fire resistant walls and doors.
The minimum temperature at which a liquid gives off vapor in sufficient concentration to form an ignitable mixture in air.
A flammable liquid is any liquid having a flash point below 100 F (37.8 C). Flammable liquids are also known as Class I liquids and subdivided according to flash point and boiling point as indicated
in the Table below.
A combustible liquid is any liquid having a flash point at or above 100 F, and is known as a Class II or III liquid as indicated in the following Table:
IA IB IC II III
Flash Point <73O <73O <73O - 100O 100O - 140O >140O
Boiling Point <100O >100O
Maximum Container Size for Point of Use Storage
The potential fire hazard depends on the flash point and the quantity of liquid being used. The following table gives the maximum size container allowed for each class of liquid:
IA IB IC II III
Glass or Plastic 1 gal 1 gal 1 gal 1 gal 1 gal
Metal 1 gal 5 gal 5 gal 5 gal 5 gal
Safety Cans 2 gal 5 gal 5 gal 5 gal 5 gal
The potential fire hazard also depends on the total quantity of flammable and combustible liquids present within a containment unit and the type of containers in which the liquids are stored. The maximum quantity allowed per unit is as follows:
1) Shelf or open storage/use:
a) Glass, plastic, or cans 10 gallons
b) Safety cans 25 gallons
2) Approved storage cabinets (maximum - 2 per unit)
a) Class I & II 60 gallons
b) Class III 120 gallons
3) Inside Storage Room (meeting NFPA Code recommendations)
a) with sprinkler 4-10 gal/ft2
b) without sprinkler 2- 4 gal/ft2
It should be emphasized that the quantity of flammables on hand must be kept to a minimum and that only in unusual circumstances will the maximum quantities be permitted. The following guidelines have been adopted by the University:
- If a one-gallon quantity of one specific liquid represents more than a thirty-day supply of a Class IA or IB flammable, one-pint (IA) or one-quart (IB) shall be used.
- Multiple cans and/or bottles of any one specific flammable will not be permitted in open storage or storage cabinet if it represents more than a thirty-day supply of that flammable.
- Deviations from these guidelines may be granted in exceptional cases following approval by the University Safety Officer.
Gasoline and other fuels must be stored and transported on campus in approved containers. The use of safety cans in laboratories is encouraged where practicable.
Flammable liquids shall not be transferred between metal containers unless the containers are electrically interconnected by direct bonding or by indirect bonding through a common ground. The maximum impedance of the bond shall not exceed 6 ohms. Gasoline powered equipment must be refueled outdoors.
Storage cabinets constructed to NFPA standards should be used when required to meet quantity limits. Storage cabinets are not permitted in hallways.
Inside Storage Rooms
A central storage room is preferable to storage cabinets in each laboratory. This central storage alternative should be considered especially by departments and schools which have centralized supply rooms.
Flammable liquids must not be stored in domestic type refrigerators. Domestic type refrigerators should not be purchased for laboratory use, even if flammable storage is not contemplated, since future research needs may require the use of flammables. Safety refrigerators, which have the electrical contacts (door switch, light, thermostat, etc.) removed or exteriorized, are recommended for laboratory use. "Explosion Proof" refrigerators are not recommended except in unusual circumstances, such as in an inside storage room (for flammables) or in potentially hazardous atmospheres. Domestic type refrigerators currently in laboratories should be labeled "DANGER/UNSAFE FOR STORAGE OF FLAMMABLES".
Bunsen burners and other open flames must not be used in the area where flammable liquids are being used. The area must be posted "NO SMOKING" and containers are to be labeled "DANGER-FLAMMABLE KEEP AWAY FROM HEAT, SPARKS, AND OPEN FLAMES, KEEP CLOSED WHEN NOT IN USE."
Variations from these guidelines may be granted when chemical purity or other considerations warrant. For further information, contact the University Safety Officer (7443).