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State Fire Marshal's Office eNews Archive



Storage of Ammonium Nitrate - Best Practices (September 5)

The State Fire Marshal's Office has been conducting voluntary inspections of facilities that store ammonium nitrate.

Attached are references related to the best practices in the storage of ammonium nitrate. This information has been provided to facilities previously inspected, and will be provided to others as the inspections are completed. This document also includes a cover letter that the SFMO sends to these companies, and an NFPA 704 placard describing the placement of hazard signage.

This information can also be found on the SFMO website. The NFPA 400, Hazardous Materials Code, can be found on the NFPA website. (Note: Must have NFPA account to view.)

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NFPA 704 "Diamond" and OSHA GHS Labels (August 12, 2013)

When OSHA announced that it was updating its Hazard Communication Standard last year to include the adoption of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, many companies and emergency responders asked "How will this impact NFPA 704"? NFPA 704, Identification of the Hazards of Materials for Emergency Response, which uses a combination of color coding and numbers to describe a hazard's severity, provides a simple, readily recognized, and easily understood label designed to assist those who are responding to an emergency such as a fire or spill. OSHA's revised Standard, known as Hazard Communication 2012 or HC2012, is a workplace chemical information system established primarily to provide information and safe work practices for those working with chemicals on a routine basis.

The concern is that the HC2012 standard incorporates a numerical rating system that appears to be similar to NFPA 704 rating system; however, the severity rating on the two standards are inverted. NFPA 704 uses a numerical of 0-4 with 4 indicating the most severe hazard. Hazard Communication 2012 uses a numerical system of 1-4 with 4 indicating the least hazard. The inverse numerical rating between the two systems is primarily what creates the concern.

To address this concern, NFPA has been working with OSHA over the past year to promote awareness of the differences between the two systems. It should be noted that OSHA does not necessarily see a conflict between HCS and NFPA 704. OSHA has indicated that the GHS numbers are not relative ratings of hazards but are used for the purpose of classifying hazards into categories for proper labeling and training information.

Recently OSHA and NFPA worked together to develop a "Quick Card" showing the differences between the two systems. The Quick card (attached) can be found on the NFPA website at www.nfpa.org/704 at the bottom of the page under "Additional Information". Or you may go directly to the card at http://www.nfpa.org/Assets/files/AboutTheCodes/704/NFPA704_HC2012_QCard.pdf. The card can be downloaded and laminated as a two sided document that can be laminated and used for easy field reference.

The NFPA Technical Committee on Classification will continue to assess the impact of GHS incorporation into OSHA's HC2012 standard. In the meantime, there is no immediate plan to change the existing NFPA 704 system. The Committee recognizes that the NFPA 704 consensus standard has been protecting emergency responders, employees, and the public for over 50 years and any changes would need to be carefully considered. For updates on NFPA 704 it is recommended that you sign up for email alerts on the top of the document information page for 704 www.nfpa.org/704.

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Important: Licensing Test Update (August 1, 2013)

The State Fire Marshal's Office will begin using a new contractor (PSI) for licensing tests effective September 2, 2013. PSI will begin taking registrations for the tests August 15, 2013. You may pay and schedule online at www.psiexams.com, or by calling 800-733-9267.

Testing will begin September 2, 2013. Please do not contact PSI prior to August 15, 2013.

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EPA Warns Against Use of Refrigerant Substitutes That Pose Fire and Explosion Risk (July 19, 2013)

From the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):

"The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is warning homeowners, propane manufacturers and sellers, home improvement contractors and air conditioning technicians of potential safety hazards related to the use of propane or other unapproved refrigerants in home air conditioning systems.

EPA is currently investigating instances where propane has been marketed and used as a substitute for HCFC-22 (R-22), a refrigerant that is widely used in home air conditioning systems.

Home air conditioning systems are not designed to handle propane or other similar flammable refrigerants. The use of these substances poses a potential fire or explosion hazard for homeowners and service technicians."

For more information, please see the EPA's news release.

In addition, the EPA has provided questions and answers concerning R-22.

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Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing (CSST) Awareness (June 28, 2013)

The State Fire Marshal's Office and the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) urge all property owners with buildings and homes constructed after 1989 with yellow Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing (CSST) to have the tubing checked for proper bonding and grounding. CSST is at risk of damage and fire from a lightning strike if not properly bonded and grounded.


"[CSST] is a flexible, stainless steel pipe used to supply natural gas and propane in residential, commercial and industrial structures. Coated with a yellow, or in some cases, a black exterior plastic coating, CSST is usually routed beneath, through and alongside floor joists in your basement, inside interior wall cavities and on top of ceiling joists in attic spaces...

... If you find CSST after inspecting your home or business, it is strongly recommended that you determine if the CSST system is properly bonded and grounded. A bonding device should be installed on your natural gas system in order to reduce the chances of a natural gas leak or fire. Bonding is provided primarily to prevent a possible electric shock to people who come in contact with the gas piping and other metal objects connected to the grounding system. Nearby lightning strikes can also result in an electrical surge and can potentially puncture a hole in the CSST. Proper bonding and grounding will reduce the risk of damage and fire from a lightning strike."

NASFM has set up a CSST Safety site to answer all of your questions about CSST.

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Recall of Cylinders Manufactured by Lite Cylinder Company (June 11, 2013)

From the National Association of State Fire Marshals:

"On May 24, 2013, The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) mandated a recall of cylinders manufactured by Lite Cylinder Company. These cylinders may leak flammable gas or suddenly rupture.

PHMSA has been notified by The Lite Cylinder Company it is no longer in business and the company's facility is now closed and unable to receive cylinders returned per the Recall Order.

PHMSA is in the process of developing a web page to aid in reporting but in the interim, reports can be called into PHMSA's Info Center at (800) 467-4922. Updates about the recall are being posted to PHMSA's website

Update: Man Impersonating Fire Inspector Identified (April 2, 2013)

From the Austin American-Statesman:

"Police and fire officials are seeking the public's help in locating a man they say has been impersonating a fire prevention inspector in order to steal money from Austin businesses, officials said Monday.

Police say Nicholas Angelo Carrion, 47, stole more than $775 from two Austin restaurants in February by impersonating a fire prevention inspector and tricking managers into paying for fraudulent inspections, according to an arrest warrant affidavit. He is also a suspect in three similar thefts in Atlanta, the document said . . .

. . . Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact fire department investigators at 512-974-0240."


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Last updated: 03/04/2015

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