The safe storage and disposal of flammable liquids takes careful planning and knowledge of regulations put into place to protect your workers, the community at large and the environment.
An important component of that knowledge needed to safely operate includes information found in flammable liquids list categories. Knowing what classification your flammable liquids fall under is critical to ensuring safe operations because the risk of a fire determines how a flammable liquid should be stored.
Below we’ll explore how flammable liquids are categorized, as well as how exactly these lists impact your facility and operations.
NFPA Classification System Of Flammable Liquids
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) classifies all flammable liquids as Class I. However, this classification is further broken down into sub-classifications that are based on a liquid’s flash point.
A flash point is, “the lowest temperature at which a substance generates a sufficient amount of vapor to form a vapor/air mixture that can be ignited.”
Flammable liquids have a flash point under 100 degrees. Combustible liquids have a flash point at or above 100 degrees F. Here’s an important distinction to keep in mind: The lower the flash point, the easier the vapors of the liquid will ignite.
While flammable liquids will catch on fire and easily burn at normal working temperatures, combustible liquids need heat before they can ignite. Keep in mind as well that guidelines may vary, which is why it is important to check all local, state and federal regulations to make sure you are meeting each of them.
So how does the NFPA Classification System of Flammable Liquids break down into sub-classifications? As you’ll see in the chart below, flash point is the main determinant in how flammable liquids fall into each category.
While this chart is pretty straight-forward, there is often confusion around the classification system above and the classification of fires that flammable liquids fall under. The NFPA classifies fires in five different ways, depending on what is fueling the fire.
Class B fires are fueled by flammable liquids such as gasoline and gases like propane.
What The Flammable Liquids Lists Mean For Your Facility
One of the greatest impacts a flammable liquid’s category designation impacts is how that liquid is stored at your facility.
For example, the state of California has specific requirements regarding flammable liquid storage, including container size and quantity limits, in laboratories.
Here are a few examples:
- A glass container can hold 1 pint of a Class IA liquid, but can hold 1 gallon of a Class II liquid.
- A metal container can hold 5 gallons of a Class IB liquid, but can only hold 1 gallon of a Class IA liquid.
- Yet an OSHA-compliant safety can can hold 5 gallons of Class IB liquids, Class IC liquids, Class II or Class III liquids. (It can only hold 2 gallons of a Class IA liquid.)
California Fire Code also limits the quantities of flammable or combustible liquids that may be stored in a facility.
For example, with extremely flammable liquids that have a flash point under 73.4 degrees F and an initial boiling point at or less than 95 degrees F, no more than 10 gallons can be stored outside a flammable liquid storage cabinet.
There are some general guidelines as well that apply for all types of flammable liquids, regardless of how they are categorized.
For example, here are five tips to keep in mind:
1. Keep storage containers out of the way. Avoid blocking entrances, stairwells and doorways.
2. Keep flammable and combustible liquids away from ignition sources. These can come from a variety of sources, from sparks from electrical tools to cigarettes, open flames and embers from incinerators. It’s a good idea to keep all of these liquids stored in a fire-proof storage cabinet away from areas where accidents like this can occur.
3. Label each storage container correctly. This is important because this simple action alerts employees and transporters to which liquids are inside the containers and if there are any associated dangers.
4. Don’t skimp on the amount of information you include on the labels. Don’t simply put the name of the liquid. Also include the start date of accumulation of waste and any additional information mandated by your state and local authorities.
5. Keep all best practices up to date. This includes proper employee training, regular facility inspections and emergency procedures.
How Your Disposal Is Impacted
Because of the dangers flammable liquids pose, no matter which category they fall under, it’s critical to have a proper disposal plan in place. Not doing so can open your facility up to costly fines and potentially devastating consequences.
Flammable liquids fall under Hazardous Waste Class 3, designated by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Because flammable liquids are hazardous, it’s important to ensure the disposal company you work with is certified to handle hazardous waste.
If your facility regularly disposes of flammable liquids as part of its production process, it may also mean partnering with a company like Temarry Recycling that recycles solvents. Temarry Recycling can help you take your sustainability goals a step further by safely recycling your solvents at its distillation facility through a process called closed loop recycling.
The state-of-the-art recycling facility just across the U.S.-Mexico border keeps materials at their highest value. Here’s how the system works:
- BTU organic solids are converted to steam through a waste to energy process.
- This steam is then used as energy onsite to power solvent stills through a solvent distillation process.
- Spent solvents are re-manufactured and sold back into industry for their original solvent properties.
- A water treatment process extracts usable water from industrial hazardous wastes. This water is then used onsite for industrial needs, including the waste to energy equipment and a cooling tower.
This offers several benefits to companies that generate flammable liquid waste. For example, companies can enhance their sustainability plans by preserving more resources. This helps ensure companies are less likely to rely on natural resources in the future.
Companies can also decrease their waste transportation costs since they do not need to transport their flammable waste across the country to states like Kansas and Arkansas, where fuel blending facilities are located. Instead, Temarry’s Treatment, Storage and Disposal Facility is just across the U.S.-Mexico border.
This shorter transport distance also reduces a facility’s carbon footprint since less fuel is needed for transportation. Companies may also have access to economic incentives, especially in California where the state offers grant, payment and loan programs for businesses that improve the sustainability of their waste stream management.