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Industry proposal on spray painting passes National Fire Protection Association Committee

National Marine Manufacturers Association
March 17, 2014
Filed under News

WASHINGTON, D.C. – March 17, 2014 – NMMA in conjunction with Lauderdale Marine Center (LMC) and the National Fire Protection Committee on Spray Finishing, recently drafted and approved a new standard which reduces the fire risks of spray painting large objects, including yachts in temporary membrane enclosures. Temporary membrane enclosures are used in the marine industry to paint yachts that are too large to fit in a spray booth. The standard not only makes painting safer but eases the concerns of fire marshals and regulators who oversee this work.

The new standard will be published in Chapter 18 of the 2015 edition of the National Fire Protection Association’s code 33 (NFPA33) and  promotes best-practices throughout the industry. It will also alleviate concerns of local fire marshals and lift the restrictions that halted work unless a fire official was on-site. It is not expected to increase the cost to paint a yacht and instead will create straightforward guidance to the industry.

The standard has been several years in the making. In 2010, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida’s fire marshal grew concerned by the shrink-wrapped enclosures he saw at LMC. In 2011 the fire Marshall ordered that operations be stopped until fire trucks could be on site and regulatory issues could be discussed. LMC spearheaded a proposed standard and presented it to the NFPA committee. NMMA’s John McKnight chaired the membrane enclosure standard task force, assisting in the development and passage of the standard. NFPA itself is a standards-setting body that U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), local fire marshals and insurers refer to, and often cite in regulations.

To support its proposal, last year LMC designed a controlled test-fire, inviting the Ft. Lauderdale Fire Department. Results from the test were used to write the standard.

“Insurance companies are not comfortable taking the word of the marine facility on fire safety; they need guidelines,” says John McKnight, Vice President of Government Relations for NMMA. “The standard sets the bar for fire protection during paint spraying, which is critical for the yard and those who permit and insure it.”

Most of the standard’s requirements are common sense measures when spraying inside of a paint enclosure. This includes prohibiting individuals from sleeping onboard, prohibiting smoking, mixing flammables outside as well as ensuring adequate ventilation and the appropriate fire sprinklers.

The great lengths taken by those developing the standard have been well worth the effort, said Jim Parks, operations manager at LMC and part of the NFPA task force. “LMC takes pride in operating in a safe manner, Parks said.” But without consensus safety standards good intentions do not satisfy the fire marshal and insurance companies.”

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