OSHA is the organization that comes to mind first when workplace safety is discussed. But the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) is a close second. Workplace fires are very common in the United States and cost companies over $2 billion dollars annually. The losses of life, property, and productivity have a significant impact on businesses and communities. The role of the NFPA is to provide guidance to reduce these losses.
Wastewater Facilities Require Special Attention
While serious fires and explosions at wastewater plants are relatively infrequent, they can be catastrophic when they do occur. The nature and volume of the materials collected, generated, used, and stored at a wastewater facility can create extremely hazardous situations. For this reason, the NFPA has a set of standards developed specifically for wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs).
These recommendations became required standards in 1995, and Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AJHs) are empowered to enforce these requirements at wastewater treatment and collection facilities in California and across the U.S. The standard is regularly reviewed and revised based on current best practices. The latest standards typically apply to new construction or updates to existing structures. However, established facilities may need to be retrofitted if they pose an unacceptable risk in their current condition.
What is NFPA 820 All About?
The standard covers three major aspects of facilities to help reduce the risk of fire and explosion at a WTTP. These include:
- Ventilation—to reduce the buildup of flammable and explosive vapors in a given area
- Electrical equipment—to decrease the chances that an electrical system will act as an ignition source
- Construction materials—to limit the extent of fire if one should occur
The standard also covers additional fire protection measures, safe work practices, warning signage, and various administrative controls. The NFPA 820 is used by architects, engineers, installers, contractors, and facility managers to design, build, and maintain a safer work environment.
Stay tuned: Next month, we will explore some of the common flammable gases and vapors that are present in a typical wastewater treatment facility. Following current NFPA guidelines can help keep these hazardous substances in check!