Earlier this month, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) issued to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) its highest level of approval for exceeding the agency’s recommendations in the development of NFPA 56: Standard for Fire and Explosion Prevention During Cleaning and Purging of Flammable Gas Piping Systems.

In June 2010, the CSB urged NFPA to revise the National Fuel Gas Code following a tragic natural gas explosion at the Kleen Energy electric plant located in Middletown, Connecticut. The explosion killed six workers and injured approximately 50 others. The incident occurred during a process called “gas blow”. During this procedure, large amounts of natural gas are forced through piping at high pressure in order to remove debris from the pipe. During the Kleen Energy incident, the gas accumulated and was eventually ignited by an unknown source.

In response to the request of the CSB, NFPA reacted quickly to develop provisional standard NFPA 56 in less than 24 weeks to not only address “gas blows”, but to also address a multitude of gas process activities, including pipe cleaning, repair, replacement, and removal procedures. The development process of provisional standard NFPA 56 was much faster than the typical code development process, which can last 104 weeks, if uncontested. If contested, the process can go as long as 141 weeks.

“This is an example of the critical role NFPA plays in providing codes and standards for use by government and other entities throughout the world,” says NFPA President James Shannon. “Our ability to bring together the right people at the right time and to facilitate a consensus process in very short order resulted in a standard that will save lives and prevent a tragedy like the one in Connecticut from happening in the future.”

Praising NFPA, CSB Chairperson Dr. Rafael Moure-Eraso said, “We heartily commend the NFPA for acting promptly and decisively in adopting the CSB recommendation in record time…NFPA moved it through the document’s revision cycle smoothly, formally publishing the NFPA 56 2014 edition last August. Our board recently voted unanimously to close this recommendation as “Exceeds recommended action” – our highest level of approval.”

To hear NFPA Vice President Chris Dubay discuss the expedited development process for NFPA 56: Standard for Fire Explosive Prevention During Cleaning and Purging of Flammable Gas Piping Systems, check out the YouTube video below:


By Jeff Harrington, CEO and Founder of Harrington Group, Inc.