How to store flammable and combustible liquids safely?

The use of hazardous materials and flammable liquids is an unavoidable part of daily work in most laboratories and industries. Unfortunately, we tend to underestimate the dangers in handling hazardous substances. That is why incidents happen every day. Companies are responsible for the safety of their employees, rescue teams and the facility and must take reasonable precautions. If they do not abide by the rules, they are liable for prosecution.

This page provides information of how to increase the safety in your company through risk assessment and safe storage of flammable and combustible liquids.

Fire in the workplace caused by improper storage of hazardous materials. The use of approved flammable storage cabinets with extreme fire resistance can help to reduce the risk of accidents to a minimum.

What do the regulators say about flammable storage cabinets?

The performance standards describe the construction and testing requirements for safety storage cabinets to store flammable liquids at normal room temperatures.

Flammable substances create one of the biggest potential dangers amongst all hazardous substances. If you want to store a larger quantity than required for that day directly at the workplace, you need a special flammable storage cabinet.

The U.S. construction and design requirements for flammable storage cabinets are defined in:

NFPA Code 30,
NFPA 1 Fire Code and
► various OSHA regulations (OSHA Flammable Liquids and OSHA Safety and Health Regulations for Construction).

In addition, independent testing facilities such as FM Global (FM) and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) have established procedures to test the effectiveness of a flammable liquid storage cabinet.

In the US, cabinets should be approved according to FM 6050 and/or UL 1275 standard. The National Fire Code of Canada shall conform to ULC/ORD-C1275. EN 14470-1 is the European Standard giving performance requirements for safety storage cabinets to be used for the storage of flammable liquids.

According to FM and UL/ULC standards, sheet steel cabinets are considered acceptable if they protect the stored materials for about 10 minutes in case of fire. Whereas flammable storage cabinets complying with the European Standard EN 14470-1 protect volatile contents for 30- to 90-minutes (depending on model) under fire conditions. This gives significantly more time to evacuate and enter the building for fire-fighting measures. Increasing the evacuation time can save lives and protect investments.

Performance of the three most common types of safety storage cabinets.

The following video demonstrates the impressive difference between three cabinets regarding their fire resistance. It underlines the need of upgrading the level of safety in order to make the flammable storage cabinets fit for the challenges of the 21st century workplace.

Could you evacuate your facility in 10 minutes?

Most Fire and Safety Officers do not know what will happen to the flammable chemicals stored in sheet steel cabinets in the event of a fire. Depending on the construction, these units are likely to fail in less than 10 minutes of fire exposure and the contents will become part of the fire load, leading to severe fires and explosions. A safe evacuation is hardly possible in such a short amount of time, especially in high risk areas such as universities, hospitals, laboratories, etc.

Regular fire drills are a great way to prepare for a fire situation, but a real case of fire is very different and evacuation times are significantly longer than fire drills suggest. This illustration demonstrates what can happen in the event of fire and shows the difficulties that can arise during the evacuation.

Do you still think that you could evacuate your facility in 10 minutes?
How about 90 minutes?

Double/triple certified fire resistant cabinets

Flammable liquid storage cabinets help to keep your employees and facility safe.

Flammable storage cabinets according to the European Standard are the perfect choice for remote locations without quick access to fire-fighting emergency services, for sites with high-occupancy and for high-value/high-asset settings.

Asecos, the Global Leader in the manufacture of EN 14470-1 compliant and type tested high risk cabinets offer a selected range of double/triple certified fire resistant cabinets. These cabinets are tested and certified according to the EN 14470-1 standard, FM standard 6050 and UL/ULC standard 1275. Furthermore, all cabinet models meet the requirements of the NFPA Code 30, NFPA 1 Fire Code and OSHA regulations.

All flammable liquid storage cabinets from asecos meet fire codes and safety regulations.

Asecos flammable storage cabinets with an extreme fire resistance of 90 minutes are available in different heights and widths, making the integration into any new and renovated laboratory or workplace very easy. The large variety of interior configurations and unique drawer systems offer the right solution for every requirement. All cabinets feature self-closing and self-sealing doors and vent connections under fire conditions.

Flammable storage cabinets with extreme fire resistance serve several critical functions:

EN safety cabinets with a fire resistance of 90 minutes enable a less risky storage of flammable liquids directly at the workplace. Apart from the purely architectonic advantages, such as time saving in the supply of materials, the use of these cabinets also means an immense safety advantage regarding preventive and defensive fire protection.

In the event of fire, the risk that could arise from the substances stored in the cabinet is almost non-existent (during the fire resistant time of the cabinet). If the substances are stored properly in the flammable storage cabinet, there is no need for preferential consideration of the fire accelerating or even potentially explosive substances during the fire fighting and rescue operations. Thus, the emergency services can primarily concentrate efforts to control the fire and rescue injured persons.

What happens with an asecos flammable storage cabinet in the event of a fire?

What makes a flammable liquid safety cabinet safe?

In the event of a fire, the drawers and doors as well as the air ducts close automatically through a thermal release, the gaps are sealed through intumescent seals and the insulation boards prevent a critical temperature increase inside the cabinet. Watch this video showing the safety features of a flammable storage cabinet with extreme fire resistance.

Where do you store your flammable liquids?

When purchasing a flammable storage cabinet, different circumstances should be considered:

  • Distance: How long does it take for the fire fighters to reach your premises?
  • Surroundings: Where is your company located and who is at risk in your area?
  • Evacuation time: How long does it take for the employees to leave the building?
  • Economic impact: What economic damage will your company suffer if the building is completely destroyed? Value of your installations, downtimes etc.