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NFPA 30: A Guide to Flammable Liquids

Quick Tips #180

Since 1896, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has been the most recognized nonprofit organization in the world dedicated to the protection of human life and property from the hazards of fire. NFPA membership currently exceeds over 81,000 fire protection professionals. The NFPA publishes over 300 nationally recognized fire codes and standards, as well as fire service training and public education materials.

Understanding NFPA 30

NFPA 30: Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code Handbook is an essential reference for those involved with the production, distribution and/or use of flammable and combustible liquids. The handbook contains the requirements found in NFPA 30: Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code; NFPA 30A: Automotive and Marine Service Station Code; and NFPA 395: Storage of Flammable and Combustible Liquids on Farms and Isolated Construction Projects.

NFPA 30: Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code is divided into eight chapters: administration, definitions, tank storage, piping systems, container and portable tank storage, operations, electrical equipment installation and referenced publications. This code contains information for the design, construction and testing of flammable liquid safety cabinets and requirements of safety cans.

NFPA 30A: Automotive and Marine Service Station Code contains thirteen major areas: administration, referenced publications, definitions, storage of liquids, piping of liquids, fuel dispensing systems, building construction requirements, electrical installations, operational requirements, vapor processing and vapor recovery systems for liquid motor fuels, marine fueling, additional requirements for CNG, LNG and LPG and Farms and Remote Sites.

NFPA 395: Standard for the Storage of Flammable and Combustible Liquids on Farms and Isolated Construction Projects is the third and final code in the handbook. Its two chapters include: general and referenced publications. The final area of the handbook contains supplemental readings and case investigation studies of recent major fire incidents.

These NFPA codes are recommended for use as the basis of legal regulations. To verify compliance, contact all applicable local, state and federal agencies.

Commonly Asked Questions
Q.   What is a safety can?
A.   NFPA 30 and OSHA 29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1910.106 (a)(29) define a safety can as, "an approved container of not more than 5 gallons (18.9 liters) capacity, having a spring-closing lid and spout cover so designed that it will safely relieve internal pressure when subjected to fire exposure."
Q.   How are flammable liquid safety cabinets designed, constructed and tested to meet NFPA 30?
A.   NFPA 30, chapter 4.3.3 (b) and OSHA 29 CFR 1910.106 (d)(3)(ii)(a) state: Metal cabinets constructed in the following manner are acceptable. The bottom, top, door and sides of cabinet shall be at least No. 18 gauge sheet steel and doubled walled with 1-1/2 in. (3.8 cm) air space. Joints shall be riveted, welded or made tight by some equally effective means. The door shall be provided with a three-point latch arrangement, and the door sill shall be raised at least 2 inches (5 cm) above the bottom of the cabinet to retain spilled liquid within the cabinet. NFPA 30 Chapter 4.3.3 (a) also states, "Storage Cabinets shall be designed and constructed to limit the internal temperature at the center, 1 inch (2.5 cm) from the top, to not more than 325 degrees F (162.8 degrees C) when subjected to a 10-minute fire test with burners simulating a room fire exposure using the standard time temperature curve as given in NFPA 251, Standard Methods of Fire Tests of Building Construction and Materials. All joints and seams shall remain tight, and the door shall remain securely closed during the fire test."
Q.   Are wooden cabinets acceptable for flammable storage?
A.   NFPA 30, chapter 4.3.3 (c) states, "Wooden cabinets constructed in the following manner are acceptable. The bottom, sides and top shall be constructed of exterior grade plywood at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) in thickness, which shall not break down or delaminate under fire conditions. All joints shall be rabbetted and shall be fastened in two directions with wood screws. When more than one door is used, there shall be a rabbetted overlap of not less than 1 inch (2.5 cm). Doors shall be equipped with a means of latching, and hinges shall be constructed and mounted in such a manner as to not lose their holding capacity when subjected to fire exposure. A raised sill or pan capable of containing a 2 inch (5 cm) depth of liquid shall be provided at the bottom of the cabinet to retain spilled liquid within the cabinet."
Q.   Do flammable liquid storage cabinets have to be vented?
A.   NFPA 30, chapter 4.3.4 says that the storage cabinet is not required to be vented for fire protection purposes, but vent openings should be sealed with the bungs supplied with the cabinet or with bungs specified by the cabinet manufacturer. However, if the storage cabinet is vented for any reason, the cabinet shall be vented directly to outdoors in such a manner that will not compromise the specified performance of the cabinet and acceptable to the authority having jurisdiction.



Benedetti, Robert P. Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code Handbook.
National Fire Protection Association. 4th edition. 2003.

Code of Federal Regulations, 29 CFR 1910.106.

(Rev. 2/2013)

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Please Note:
The content in this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only. This publication is not a substitute for review of the applicable government regulations and standards, and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific compliance questions should refer to the cited regulation or consult with an attorney.

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