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Fire-rated cabinets for chemicals explained - what you really need to know.

Before you buy storage for your flammable substances it is important to understand what storage option is best for your needs and why you need it.

You also need to know what regulations and recommendations should be adhered to.

Let’s start here.

What does fire-rated mean?

There are 2 measures of fire testing. These are:

  1. Reaction to Fire - Retardancy. This is the measurement of the ability of a material to resist or prevent the passage of fire from one area to another

  2. Reaction to Fire and Structural Integrity. This is the measurement of how a material will contribute to or hinder a fire being able to develop.

For fire-rated cabinets the second measure is most relevant: Reaction to Fire and Structural Integrity.

What is a fire-rated cabinet?

Fire-rated storage cabinets provide the safe storage of highly flammable liquids.

These cabinets have insulated fire panels, fire-resistant materials and the coatings are specifically developed to meet a particular level of fire protection. They are designed and built to ensure the containment of fires. These storage units have a stated fire protection level that is measured by time (i.e. 90 minutes).

A flammable storage (or fire-rated) cabinet with 90 minutes fire-rated protection means that if there is a fire on your premises, your flammable chemicals will be insulated from the fire for 90 minutes. The fire-rated protection range goes from 30, 60, 90 to 120 minutes of fire-resistant integrity.

A fire-rated cabinet’s materials, surfaces and components have been treated correctly or are constructed from specific fire-resistant materials and will be protected from the effects of fire by a protective system that has been tested to remain intact and protect the components for the stated duration of time.

Other terms you may see around:

1

Fire Proof

It sounds promising, but is misleading. It implies a degree of safety, but there may have been no testing to determine what ‘fire proof’ means.

2

Fire Retardant

A term that is no longer used, so any claims to be fire-retardant are meaningless, unless they are supported by evidence of testing performance.

3

FR

A term sometimes used by building surveyors and in construction. It is an accepted term and means fire-resisting to BS 476 Part 22 or European (BS EN) standards. The standards should be defined by testing done by the manufacturer.

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To be confident that you are using storage that is within recommended guidelines for flammable substances you need storage that is tested and certified as fire-rated or fire-resistant.

Do I really need a fire-rated cabinet?

If you handle flammable substances in your business it is likely that both the HSE guidelines and your insurance company require that you have the correct provision of fire-rated storage.

It is important that you have highly flammable substances stored in a secured, safe location with the proper safety precautions in place.

The UK has a minimum requirement which is regulated by the HSE (Health & Safety Executive). Find out more here.

Fire-rated cabinets should provide a minimum of 30 minutes of fire resistance. The greater the resistance the better, with 120 minutes being the best level of protection.

The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR) ‘require risks from the indoor storage of dangerous substances to be controlled by elimination or by reducing the quantities of such substances in the workplace to a minimum and providing mitigation to protect against foreseeable incidents.’

Fire-rated cabinets are for storing quantities up to a maximum of 250 litres, dependent on the flashpoint temperature of the substance stored. If the flashpoint is below 37.8 °C then the limit is 50 litres.

The flashpoint refers to the temperature at which the chemical releases heavy vapours that are easily ignitable into the air.

The regulations recommend ‘that the maximum quantities that may be stored in cabinets and bins are no more than 50 litres for extremely, highly flammable and those flammable liquids with a flashpoint below the maximum ambient temperature of the workroom/working area; and no more than 250 litres for other flammable liquids with a higher flashpoint of up to 55°C.’

It is important that, in the event of an incident, you can ensure that people can safely escape from a working area. This means that you need to have appropriately constructed storage cabinets that provide a physical barrier to delay the involvement of these materials in a fire and delay the passage of flame and hot gases, to give sufficient time for the safe evacuation of people and the implementation of emergency procedures.

See more details of the HSE recommendations

What does a fire-rated cabinet offer me?

Cabinets can come in a range of shapes, sizes and colours. A key quality you must look for is that they ensure fire-resistance for the specified time (30, 60, 90 or 120 minutes).

This fire-resistance time guarantee buys you time in the event of an accident or emergency. Time to ensure all people in the vicinity are safe, time to make your premises safe, if possible, and time for the emergency services to arrive on site.

Fire-rated cabinets allow for smaller quantities of flammable substances to be stored in closer proximity to their place of use.

DENIOS cabinets come with a choice of features such as:

  • Air-extraction connection

  • Lockable, to protect from unauthorised access

  • Inner surfaces that are chemical resistant, impact & scratch-proof and easy to clean

  • Earthing connection points

  • Automatic closing doors in the event of a fire

  • Water-tight, spill-tested pallets

  • Integral base for easy handling and moving

  • Adjustable feet for uneven floors

Take a look at the wide-range of DENIOS options available.

Denios fire-rated cabinets adhere to the following standards:

Without proper temperature controls in place highly flammable liquids can quickly reach flashpoint. Fire-rated chemical storage should have proper ventilation and cooling systems. The vapours from these substances are heavier than air so ventilation should be at floor level, or using forced extraction. DENIOS offers a range of options and customisation to fit your needs.

Tested and certified fire-rated cabinets allow you to be in line with regulatory and insurance requirements. Properly installed, correctly used and maintained, these fire-rated cabinets mean that you are using the best protective and safety measures available for the circumstances.

DENIOS fire-rated cabinets adhere to the following standards:

The European Standard CSN EN 14470-1 Safety storage cabinets for flammable liquids

The TRGS 510 Storage of hazardous substances in non-stationary containers

The HSE guidance on Storage of Flammable Liquids in Containers

What can I store in my fire-rated cabinet?

Fire-rated cabinets are for specific storage purposes.

Storing quantities of flammable or highly flammable chemicals up to a maximum of 250 litres. If the flashpoint is below 37.8 °C (a highly flammable liquid) then the limit is 50 litres. For a flashpoint of up to 55 °C the maximum storage capacity is 250 litres.

Normal atmosphere conditions are defined by HSE in DSEAR 2002 as between -20 °C and 40 °C and 0.8 to 1.1 bar.

The flashpoint refers to the temperature at which the chemical releases heavy vapours that are easily ignitable into the air.

Certain substances should be stored separately. Flammable liquids should not be stored with incompatible substances. The Storage of Packaged Dangerous Substances HSG717 gives guidance on the safe storage of incompatible chemicals and includes segregation recommendations. Read more on this here.

Combustible materials, such as packaging, should not be kept in the flammable liquid store. Potentially, this could be the first material ignited and a subsequent fire would then be likely to compromise the safe storage of the flammable liquids containers.

For larger quantities of flammable substances outdoor storage or a dedicated storage room should be in place.

The use of cabinets with enhanced fire performance should not be seen as a substitute for the provision of dedicated store rooms and outdoor storage areas for the safekeeping of containers which are nominally empty or are not needed for current work.

Where should I put my fire-rated storage?

Fire resistant or fire-rated cabinets should be located in a safe and suitable place. This means it should be as far away as possible from sources of ignition, busy areas, and processing areas, and not obstructing any means of escape.

It is recommended that highly flammable liquids are stored in temperature-controlled environments away from areas of heavy foot traffic, best practice is that this is an external storage unit located outdoors.

If you are storing quantities above 50 litres the storage facility should be located outdoors, in a secure space. It should be clearly marked and lockable.

These outdoor storage facilities must be situated away from occupied buildings, sources of ignition, LPG tanks, away from or protected against the risk of impact to drains or underground areas, and away from boundaries. This reduces the risk of the severity of an incident escalating.

Outdoor storage rooms should have a fire-rating of at least 60 minutes.

If you have more than 50 litres of flammable liquid to store, but no available outside space, you need to consider a purpose-built internal store. Here the same design considerations for an external store apply with the addition that, depending upon the quantities to be stored, a longer period of fire resistance rating should be considered e.g. 90 or 120 minutes.

DENIOS cabinets and storage rooms are built and tested to the highest possible standards. You will find a range of 60, 90 and 120 minute fire-rated available from us. Our team are happy to help you find the most appropriate solution.

See our fire rated storage containers

Look at our industry-leading lithium-ion battery storage rooms

Take advantage of our expert advice!

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The specialist information on this page has been compiled carefully and to the best of our knowledge and belief. Nevertheless, DENIOS AG cannot assume any warranty or liability of any kind, whether in contract, tort or otherwise, for the topicality, completeness and correctness either towards the reader or towards third parties. The use of the information and content for your own or third party purposes is therefore at your own risk. In any case, please observe the locally and currently applicable legislation.

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