NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - 72

THE CLASS OF

a more comprehensive electrical maintenance program. The anticipated
addition outlines specific criteria and
intervals for the inspection, testing,
and maintenance (ITM) of all electrical
equipment and distribution system
components at health care facilities.
It's based on information found in
another NFPA document, NFPA 70B,
Recommended Practice for Electrical
Equipment Maintenance.
According to Hart, previous editions
of NFPA 99 have required such a program for some electrical equipment
found at health care facilities, and this
change will simply close the loop on
those recommendations.
"We've always had requirements to
test generators and transfer switches
and portions of emergency power
systems, as well as to test electrical
receptacles and line isolation monitors,"
Hart said. "But we've never had a full
electrical maintenance program spelled
out, and a lot of AHJs require hospitals
to have maintenance programs for critical utility systems, of which electrical
systems would definitely be included.
Many facilities will already have a program like this in place that meets the
new requirements, but it's still recommended that they review the criteria in
full once it's available to ensure their
ITM documentation and intervals align
with the new section."
-Angelo Verzoni

NFPA 30
nfpa.org/30next

What is the difference between a combustible liquid and a flammable liquid?
To the layperson, those terms might
seem interchangeable. But technically,
they're not. Flammable liquids ignite
more readily than combustible ones,
according to the technical definitions
of the terms. But at what point does
a combustible liquid become prone
enough to ignite that it can be classified as flammable? The answer depends
on who you ask.
NFPA 30, Flammable and Combustible
Liquids Code, currently defines flammable liquids as those with flash points that

do not exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit,
while the flash point of a combustible
liquid starts at 100 degrees and goes up
from there. A liquid's flash point is the
temperature at which the liquid produces
enough vapor to ignite in air.
Other organizations, however, have
starkly different definitions for the
combustible/flammable threshold. For
instance, the US Department of Transportation, in an effort to align more
closely with global definitions, says
flammable liquids don't become combustible ones until their flash point hits 141
degrees. Confusing, right?
That's why the 2021 edition of NFPA
30 is expected to stop using the terms
"flammable" and "combustible" and focus
solely on the flash points of liquids.
"Flash point alone defines the degree
of hazard posed by that liquid, which
in turn defines what protections should
be applied to storage applications," said
Guy Colonna, an engineering director
at NFPA. "With this change in NFPA 30,
where ability to ignite and contribute to
combustion is the critical concern of the
code, liquids will now be assessed on the
single characterizing property of flash
point." Nothing in the code will change
regarding the protection levels that are
mandated for liquids based on their
flash points, quantity of liquids stored,
and storage conditions, Colonna added.
The proposal appears to be one that
many industry safety professionals
would describe as a long time coming.
An article published in Industrial
Safety & Hygiene News in 2013 said the
flammable/combustible divide "could
be the root of miscommunication and
potentially result in an accident."
-Angelo Verzoni

NFPA 921
nfpa.org/921next

NFPA 921, Guide for Fire and Explosion
Investigation, continues to grow and
expand to keep up with the ever-changing science and testing. The first edition
came out in 1992 and had 14 chapters
and 119 pages. The 2021 edition will
have 29 chapters and over 400 pages,
including color photographs and images.

The goal of the committee is to continue to raise the bar of professionalism
within the fire investigation community.
With over 500 public inputs and more
than 300 public comments, the 2021
edition will see the most changes in the
document's history.
Fire cause classification
Among the major changes to the new
edition was the deletion of a chapter
on fire cause classification. The 1992
edition included a short discussion in
the fire cause chapter addressing the
classification of fire cause. In the 2014
edition, the section addressing fire
cause classification was moved to a separate chapter.
There has been ongoing confusion
between the concept of the cause of a
fire and the classification of the fire
cause. These are two different things.
The cause of the fire is related to the
circumstances that bring the fuel, ignition source, and oxygen together in
such a way that a fire begins. Once the
cause of the fire is determined, then
the classification of that cause can be
evaluated. The four classifications that
NFPA 921 identified were accidental,
natural, incendiary and undetermined.
Two of the main purposes for identifying the classification of a fire cause
were for the compilation of accurate
statistical data and for the completion
of National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) reports by fire
departments.
Even so, confusion between cause
and classification remained. For example, someone would indicate the cause
of a fire as "accidental," though that
term doesn't adequately describe the
actual cause. If the fire originated
on the burner of a stove, then the
cause should be listed as "unattended
cooking," which describes the circumstances that brought together
the necessary elements for the fire to
begin. Even if the cause were clearly
identified, further confusion could
exist in the classification. It could be
"accidental" due to the fact that the
homeowner was distracted. It might be
"incendiary" because the homeowner
intentionally placed something on the
burner that caused a fire. Or it could be

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NFPA Journal - May/June 2020

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