Changes on Antifreeze Systems

With fall just around the corner, it is important to be aware of changes that the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has released, effective August 29th, 2012.

NFPA 13 and NFPA 13R

New systems can use only listed antifreeze solutions with the one exception being ESFR sprinklers that are listed for use with propylene glycol. To date there are no listed antifreeze solutions.

It should be noted that despite this tentative interim amendment (TIA) being issued on only the 2013 edition, it still impacts jurisdictions using older editions. The reason is that the use of antifreeze presents a potential hazard and once a hazard is known to the industry, it must be addressed. AFSA is developing a paper on liability issues related to antifreeze systems. It will include actions that should be taken for previously installed systems as well as inspection, testing, and maintenance activities.

For those that have been awarded a contract for an antifreeze system, it is possible that current antifreeze solutions could still be used if it complies with the requirements of the NFPA 25 TIA. It is recommended that you take the following steps:

  • Notify the client of the issues related to using antifreeze,
  • Follow the requirements for retaining existing antifreeze systems, and
  • It is prudent that you also get the approval of the AHJ.

NFPA 13D – both new and existing systems are addressed.

New systems shall also use only listed antifreeze solutions except when it is acceptable to the AHJ to use current antifreeze solutions. These are still limited to premixed solutions with a maximum concentration of 48% by volume for glycerine and 38% for propylene glycol. The use of these solutions is to be applied only to specific areas where other means of freeze protection is not practical, such as for piping in exterior walls or in unheated concealed spaces above cathedral ceilings. Documentation should be presented to the AHJ showing that the use of glycerine or propylene glycol does not present a hazard and is consistent with the testing conducted by the Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF).

Existing systems shall be restricted to premixed solutions with a maximum concentration of 50% by volume for glycerine and 40% for propylene glycol. As a side note, this requirement already exists in the 2010 edition from TIA 10-2.

NFPA 25

The requirements for existing systems differ dependent upon whether the date of installation is before or after September 30, 2012. Systems installed on or after this date shall use a listed antifreeze solution. It is expected that these systems would have been installed in accordance with NFPA 13, 2013 edition.

Systems installed before September 30, 2012 must be converted within the next 10 years to a listed antifreeze solution with an assigned date not to exceed September 30, 2022 and they must meet both of the following conditions:

  1. The antifreeze shall be a premixed solution with a maximum concentration of 50% by volume for glycerine and 40% for propylene glycol and
  2. An approved deterministic risk assessment must be provided for systems with concentrations greater than 38% by volume for glycerine and 30% for propylene glycol. Premixed antifreeze solutions of propylene glycol greater than 30% shall still be permitted for ESFR sprinklers that are listed for such use.

The assessment determines whether or not the antifreeze solution discharged from the sprinkler is likely to undergo a large-scale ignition. The TIA identifies resources that can be used when performing the assessment as well as variables that may influence whether large-scale ignition occurs.