Founded in 1896, The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) contributes knowledge on fire prevention to industry figures and decision makers with the aim of saving lives and reducing loss. Susan Bershad, senior chemical engineer at the NFPA, is leading a presentation on the organization’s new NFPA 652 standard at this year’s International Powder & Bulk Solids Conference & Exhibition, May 3-5, in Rosemont, IL. Powder & Bulk Solids spoke with Bershad to learn more about the new standard and how NFPA’s standards change over time.
Powder & Bulk Solids: How many iterations of the NFPA 652 standards have existed, and how have they changed over the years?
Bershad: NFPA 652 is a new standard. NFPA 652, Standard on the Fundamentals of Combustible Dust, was published in September of 2015. It provides the basic principles of and requirements for identifying and managing the fire and explosion hazards of combustible dust and particulate solids.
It is meant to work with the industry and commodity-specific dust standards, such as NFPA 61, 654, 664, 655, and 484. It provides the fundamental requirements for managing combustible dusts.
NFPA combustible dust standards have been in place since the 1920s and 30s, and have evolved over time with changes in technology and the industries that produce combustible dust.
Powder & Bulk Solids: What drives changes in NFPA combustible dust standards? Are the standards updated on a regular basis or are they updated in response to new industry challenges?
Bershad: NFPA standards, including the combustible dust standards, are updated on a three to five-year cycle. The revision process is open, balanced, and transparent. The public is invited to submit public input and public comment at the first and second draft phase. Technical committees are responsible for reviewing public input and comments, and write the standards. Changes in the standards are based on input from the public, industry experience, and changes in technology.
Powder & Bulk Solids: What role has technology played in the evolution of NFPA combustible dust standards? Are there any technologies or pieces of equipment that have dramatically changed the standards?
Bershad: The NFPA combustible dust standards date from the 1920’s and 30’s. Changes in dust collection and explosion prevention technologies since then have dramatically changed to the standards. The standards will continue to evolve as improvements in technology continue to be made.
Powder & Bulk Solids: Where do you think industrial combustible dust standards will be by 2020? What progress needs to be made? What the challenges to getting there?
Bershad: NFPA has established a correlating committee for the combustible dust committees. One of the objectives of the correlating committee is to work towards consistency between the standards, where that consistency is appropriate. This process will take place over the next few revision cycles.