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NFPA 58 updates to know in 2020

November 19, 2019 By    
Photo by Allison Barwacz

Photo by Allison Barwacz

An updated Liquefied Petroleum Gas Code (NFPA 58) was released by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). You can get the full details at nfpa.org/58.

Here is a look at the highpoints.

Chapter 3 contains definitions. One significant definition added was “important building.” The definition is “A building that is considered not expendable in an exposure fire.”

Chapter 4, General Requirements, has a couple of widely applicable new requirements. One is that fire extinguishers shall have an A:B:C rating. The other recognizes that some materials are inherently noncombustible, with some references.

Chapter 5 is mostly for manufacturers, but it also gets into material specifications. Austenitic stainless steel is a newly allowed material. Also, section 5.14.2.4 pairs with A.5.9.8.1(H) to explain using an excess flow valve to protect a container opening from discharging should piping break.

Chapter 6 on installations is heavily revised. Some requirements interrelate with other parts of the chapter, so it can get confusing.

Sections 6.4.1.2 and 6.7.3.4 allow for the reduction of separation between large tanks and buildings when the requirements of section 6.30 are met. Now they will also apply to filling cylinders. The details are strict, so don’t implement it until you know the rules. Two quick points: no use of adapters to connect to containers and no filling of hot air balloon containers.

Groups of four tanks of less than 125 gallons each may be installed beside buildings with at least 10 ft. between the groups. The separation between groups used to be 25 ft.

Sections 6.5.4.1 and 6.9.2.2 are related since they refer to obstructions over and around containers. A solid enclosure may extend around three sides of a container if one long side is entirely open. Pressure relief valves must be installed “to prevent deflection [of the contents] toward the container,” prohibiting most covers. The requirement for the undefined fire protection analysis is gone (not to be confused with a fire safety analysis).

The prohibition for connecting ASME tanks with unequal fill heights is clearly applied to all tanks, whether above ground, under ground or both.

Wording was changed for underground containers to specify the top of the tank shell is to be buried to the required distance below the ground surface.

Schedule 10 piping is allowed for certain aboveground vapor piping if installed as specified. It shall not be threaded.

No paint or other coatings may be applied to temperature sensitive elements of internal valves or emergency shut-off valves.

Section 6.15 is simplified to require hydrostatic relief valves where liquid can be “trapped between valves.”

The requirement for two means of egress from a secure area is clarified to designated (a sign provided) and unlocked or readily unlockable (no tools, keys or combination) when the area is occupied.

Wording clarifies that dispensers must be open for at least 50 percent of the perimeter. A canopy may be provided for the dispenser working space. (6.27.3.3 and .4)

The separation distances for containers at certain telecommunication facilities may be reduced if certain conditions are met, including the container being equipped with a fill valve with an integral manual shut-off valve. (6.28.4)

The committee emphasized that when a container is not in compliance, it shall not be filled and the customer shall be notified in writing, including why to ward off getting it filled elsewhere. (7.2.2.2)

The face seal for certain cylinder valves must be examined for defects before filling. If the face seal is found to have a defect, then the cylinder shall not be filled. Explanatory information, with photos, is added in the annex. You’ll need a flashlight and magnifier. (7.2.2.7)

Railcar unloading requirements are clarified and expanded to more closely match Department of Transportation requirements. (7.2.3.6)

Section 7.3 is extensively modified to clarify requirements for venting containers and purging piping. Also, there are some new requirements for purging piping, including following rules from NFPA 54.

There are new specifications for flame spread characteristics for shelves holding cylinders at locations open to the public, with explanatory information in the annex. (8.4.2.1)

Section 9.4.8 has clarification that at least two wheel stops shall be used, in addition to the parking brake, to prevent movement in either direction when a cargo tank vehicle is loading, unloading or parked. Explanatory material in the annex clarifies that gravity is not the only force of concern for the vehicle moving and points out that a single wheel stop between axles may be appropriate if it fits closely.

Chapter 11 has clarification that the chapter does not apply to over-the-road LP-gas-fueled vehicles. Section A.11.3.3.1 has explanatory information about when containers must be removed from service, referencing Compressed Gas Association and National Board Inspection Code standards to describe dents, bulging, corrosion, etc.

Chapter 12 is largely aimed at those making propane-powered vehicles or for converting vehicles to propane power. There are many changes to simplify. Few of these changes are of interest to anyone not involved in building these vehicles.

Chapter 13, Refrigerated Containers, changed from using the undefined and ambiguous “occupied buildings” to “important buildings” in section 13.7, to be consistent with other parts of the code.

Chapter 15, Operations and Maintenance, is changed throughout to remove installation instructions and to specify certain operating and maintenance procedures. You should see if your procedures or maintenance checklist should be revised.

Annex A changes not already described include:

  • Explanatory material for the assembly occupancy definition, listing several examples. (A.3.3.9)
  • Explanatory material for fire extinguishers. (A.4.7)
  • Explanatory material for important buildings, especially how to determine if a building is important. (A.6.4.1.1)

The Annex I figures depicting separation requirements of residential tanks have been updated to help visualize separation requirements.


Richard Fredenburg is an LP gas engineer at the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Standards Division. He is also a member of NFPA’s Technical Committee on LP Gases.

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