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2018 International Fire Code Requires Compliance with NFPA 652 Combustible Dust Standard

October 3, 2017

The 2018 version of the International Fire Code is out! And it requires compliance with NFPA 652: Standard on the Fundamentals of Combustible Dust. Read on to find out what that means for you.

What is NFPA 652?

This standard was released in 2016 by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). It applies to all facilities where combustible dust is present.

What’s different about NFPA 652 compared to the previous industry-specific combustible dust standards (NFPA 61 for food processing, NFPA 484 for combustible metals, etc.) is that it requires companies to test the dust in their facilities. If the dust is found to be combustible, they must perform a dust hazard analysis (DHA) to identify any hazards that exist, create a written plan for managing those hazards, and provide employee training for anyone affected.

What does IFC (2018) say about combustible dust?

For its 2018 edition, the IFC has adopted NFPA 652, requiring any facility that manufactures, processes, blends, conveys, repackages, generates, or handles combustible dust to comply.

Here are the key points to know:

  • NFPA 652 applies to all new and existing facilities where a combustible dust hazard is present.
  • Existing facilities must complete a DHA:
    • Within 3 years of the effective date of the standard (i.e., by October 2018)
    • Any time a process changes
  • If a facility has not completed a DHA, the fire code official can order one.
  • Combustible dust is not allowed to accumulate. It must be collected in a way that does not disperse the dust into the air. That means with a vacuum cleaner, not with compressed air.

What does this mean for you?

The IFC is the most common fire code in the United States. It’s currently used in 42 states, New York City, Washington DC, Guam, and Puerto Rico.

So, if you operate a facility in the United States, chances are very good that you will need to comply with NFPA 652. Check with your local jurisdiction to determine exactly what regulations apply to you and your compliance timeline.

Even if you aren’t required to comply with NFPA 652 yet, you likely will be soon. Awareness of combustible dust hazards is increasing, and more codes, agencies, and even insurance brokers are adopting standards to address these hazards. By taking steps to comply now, you can ensure you’re prepared for the future, rather than having to scramble at the last minute. Keep in mind that fire marshals can shut down your business if they determine your operations aren’t safe.

If you have any questions about how to mitigate combustible dust risks in your facility, please contact us. We’re here to help keep your workers and your facility safe.

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