TRANSCAER March Newsletter: Safely Packaging Flammable and Combustible Liquids in Steel Drums

The following article was published in TRANSCAER’s March newsletter.

You will often see Flammable and Combustible liquids, also referred to as ignitable liquids, shipped and stored in steel drums. Steel drums are safe and reliable containers when paired with the an adequately designed foam-water fire sprinkler system and relieving style plugs. Fusible or relieving plugs are designed to relieve internal pressure during a fire situation so that a violent rupture does not occur. It is easy to recognize this type of steel drum as “fusible” plugs are drum closures similar to steel closures but made from impact resistant nylon, polyethylene or polypropylene.

NFPA Code 30 Requirements

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has been vigilant in updating their standards regarding the storage and warehousing of ignitable liquids in metal containers or steel drums. Based on fire testing conducted in 1996, Class 1B, 1C, II and III liquids are allowed in steel drums with fusible plugs in protected storage in accordance with NFPA Code 30 requirements. The drums can also be stacked four high. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has not kept up to date with the latest revisions in NFPA Code 30, which was last updated in 2018.

DOT Requirements

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) requirements do not require the use of fusible plugs when shipping ignitable liquids in steel drums. However, steel drums with this type of plug are tested and certified by manufacturers for use with Flammable and Combustible (ignitable) liquids. You can recognize a certified drum by the UN symbol and mark on the container.

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