Codes & Standards — Sprinklers in Industrial Ovens

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ContOven_InsideQ: Are sprinklers required by code inside industrial ovens?

A: While the oven itself is non-combustible, the composition of the materials processed in the oven often determines the need for fire protection.

NFPA 86 requires that “a study shall be conducted to determine the need for fixed or portable fire protection systems for ovens, furnaces, or related equipment” and that “the determination of the need for fire protection systems shall be based on a review of the fire hazards associated with the equipment.” Meanwhile, the IFC requires that “Class A and B ovens that contain, or are utilized for the processing of, combustible materials shall be protected by an approved automatic fire-extinguishing system.”

FM Global, a leading commercial insurance company, recommends automatic sprinkler protection if you have any of the following conditions:

  • Oven construction is combustible
  • Material being processed is combustible
  • Racks, trays, spacers or containers are combustible
  • Significant accumulations of combustible drippings or deposits on interior oven surfaces, racks or trays

Fire protection should be provided for dipped or flow-coated metal in the part of the oven where dripping occurs and throughout some ovens, such as those for baking expanded-metal lath. Sprayed metal parts or lithograph-coated metals do not generally contain sufficient combustibles to require fire protection in the oven workspace; however, fire protection is needed for electrical equipment with exposed insulation. Sprinklers are needed in ducts or plenum chambers that accumulate combustible deposits, as well as in the housings or impeller casings of large, important fans.

The final decision regarding the level of fire protection lies with the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). The AHJ may be the facility owner, building inspector, fire marshal, insurance provider or other enforcement agent.

An assessment of the fire hazards of an industrial oven should be performed by qualified personnel familiar with the materials being processed, as well as an understanding of oven construction and safety features. Global Finishing Solutions (GFS) does not provide fire hazard evaluations but can assist in the review process by addressing questions regarding the safety features and construction of our industrial ovens.

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