Is Your Burner Safe this Summer?
Summer is here - and for many facilities, that means planned downtime. Now may be the perfect time to schedule an NFPA-compliant safety testing of your facility's burners/gas trains. Annual safety tests are often required by insurance companies, national/local codes, and corporate policy. When performed properly, testing and inspection can reduce risk associated with safety, property, and production losses. Annual inspections can also improve production uptime and system reliability as well as help identify potential energy-saving opportunities.
Because of the potential safety issues involved, it's strongly recommended that any comprehensive burner evaluation be performed by a service provider with specific technical expertise in the repair, installation, and maintenance of industrial burners and gas trains. Regardless of who performs the inspection, there are important considerations to keep in mind related to safety, including leak detection, code compliance, and energy usage optimization.
Before any system inspection, it's vital to be aware of all potential safety hazards. At a minimum, follow your plant's lock out/tag out and PPE procedures, and make sure to reference your burner manufacturer's manual for procedures and specifications unique to your equipment's make and model.
NFPA 86 is the minimum nationwide safety standard required by law for ovens, dryers, furnaces, thermal oxidizers and any other heated enclosure used for processing of materials and related equipment. This standard is set by the National Fire Protection Association and includes guidelines, rules, and methods applicable to the safe construction, installation, operation, and maintenance of these types of equipment. It's important to note that NFPA 86 applies to modifications to existing equipment as well as new installations, and it is periodically updated. Furthermore, it states that "the user has the responsibility for establishing a program of inspection, testing and maintenance with documentation performed at least annually" - so make sure to retain your historical documentation.
NFPA Safety Checklist
An exhaustive discussion of NFPA 86 is beyond the scope of this post, but key safety code checks must include:
- Safety Devices (including all safety interlocks tested for proper function, set points, and usage)
- Burner Management Systems
- High-Temperature limit switches
- Flame Validation devices
- Fuel Pressure switches
- Safety Shut Off Valve POC switches
- Fuel Supply regulators
- Combustion Quality
- Purge process
- Trial for Ignition process
- Pilot or Main Flame proving
- Flame Shape and Stability
- Fuel-mix ratio
Burner Air-to-Fuel Ratios
Periodic verification and tuning of burner air-fuel ratios is one of the easiest ways to improve system efficiency, and this should be an integral part of your burner system inspection. If combustion air contribution is much higher or lower than the burner manufacturer's recommendation, process heating efficiency can be greatly reduced. An experienced inspection service technician can fine-tune the burner system for optimal air-gas fuel ratios based on your specific conditions by a) using the manufacturer's recommended differential pressures, b) flue gas analysis, or c) by a combination of both methods.
Authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) has the final word.
As noted earlier, NFPA is only a minimum standard. The authority having jurisdiction (e.g., insurers, fire marshals, health departments, etc.) in your area must also be consulted to pass compliance. Keep in mind, most insurance companies require annual testing and preventative maintenance for continued compliance, even after their initial "okay." And other codes and standards - like ANSI, ASME, and NEC - may apply in addition to NFPA. In some cases, your AHJ may not address fuel-system issues. Gas train and interlock testing are typically the owner's responsibility.
Call an Expert.
NFPA safety checks of burners/gas trains are critical to the safety of your facility's personnel, and also to your production reliability and regulatory compliance. At PolSys Services, we're highly experienced with virtually all makes and models of common burner and gas train components, including Maxon, Eclipse, North American, Hauck, John Zink Hamworthy, Coen, Todd, and many more. Call us today for a comprehensive evaluation and detailed written report of your facility's burner system using our proprietary R.I.S.C. (Reliability Improvement, Safety, Compliance) System.
NOTE: Although educational in nature, this blog is not intended to offer comprehensive technical, safety, or legal advice.