Q: I am looking for clarification on the storage of alcohol based hand rub (ABHR) solution. I know the standard indicates that no more than 10 gallons of ABHR can be stored in a single smoke compartment. However, my question is how much can be stored in a room designated as a hazardous area? We were recently cited for having 11 gallons (total) of ABHR stored in an area that we have identified as a hazardous area. It is sprinkled; has a 2-hour rated door, and this storage area is within our purchasing area which is also behind a 2-hour rated smoke compartment door. Any clarification you could provide would be helpful. Is there something additional we need to have in place to store this Class 1B flammable liquid in the hazardous area?
A: Actually… you have that backwards. Not more than 5 gallons of ABHR solution is permitted to be stored in a single smoke compartment without meeting the requirements of NFPA 30 Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code; not 10 gallons. So, if you were cited for having 11 gallons of ABHR solution stored outside of NFPA 30 requirements, then you were 6 gallons (or 120%) over the limit which is a significant amount. The 10 gallon limit is the amount of ABHR solution in dispensers (not storage) per smoke compartment.
So… what does NFPA 30 require for storage of class IB flammable liquids?
- Section 4.2.3 says the maximum size metal or plastic container for class IB liquids is 5 gallons (this is where the maximum 5 gallons of ABHR in storage comes from);
- Section 4-3.1 says not more than 60 gallons of class I or class II flammable liquids may be stored in a single storage cabinet;
- Section 4-3.2 says not more than three storage cabinets are permitted in one fire area (i.e. smoke compartment);
- Section 4-3.3 has detailed information on how storage cabinets must be constructed, and cabinets with a listing as meeting the NFPA 30 requirements are acceptable;
- Section 4-3.4 says storage cabinets are not required to be vented, but if they are vented to they have to be vented to the outdoors;
- Section 4-4.2.1 says interior storage rooms containing more than 5 gallons of class IB liquids (in lieu of listed storage cabinets) up to 150 square feet are required to be 1-hour fire rated, and from 150 square feet up to 500 square feet are required to be 2-hour fire rated (rooms larger than 500 square feet are not permitted to be used for storage of class IB liquids);
- Sections 4-4.3.5 and 4-5.1.5 says class I liquids are not permitted to be stored in the basement of a facility;
Not all hazardous areas are actually 1-hour fire rated, so care must be taken when deciding to store ABHR solution in hazardous areas. You say your hazardous area is 2-hour fire rated, which seems a bit odd, since hazardous areas are not required to be more than 1-hour fire rated. But it is what it is, and you would be permitted to store ABHR solution in quantities larger than 5 gallons if the 2-hour fire rated room is not larger than 500 square feet. Also, that room would not be permitted to be in the basement.