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LP Gas Cylinder Storage Requirements

Quick Tips #139

What is LP gas? The LP stands for "liquefied petroleum." A widely used fuel, LP gas is a mixture of light hydrocarbons, primarily propane and butane, which are gaseous at atmospheric pressure and temperature. Because of its absence of sulfur and its very low production of nitrogen oxides (NOx), this fuel produces low levels of toxic substances and particulates during combustion. NOx emissions are nitric oxides and nitrogen dioxides. LP gas can be easily liquefied by modestly decreasing the temperature or increasing the pressure. This makes it extremely easy to store and transport, even to remote areas. In 2001, world consumption of LP gas was estimated to be approximately 200 million tons.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) addresses common questions regarding how to store LP gas containers in their standard title 58. The following excerpt from the NFPA national fire code outlines proper storage procedures for LP gas cylinders awaiting use or resale. Several frequently asked questions are answered following the excerpt:

8.1 Scope

8.1.1 The provisions of this chapter are applicable to the storage of portable containers, cylinders, of 1,000 lb (454 kg) water capacity, or less, whether filled, partially filled or empty as follows:

 

(a) At consumer sites or distributing points, but not connected for use.

(b) In storage for resale by dealer or reseller.

 

8.1.3 The provisions of this chapter do not apply to: (a) Cylinders stored at bulk plants.

8.2 General Provisions

8.2.1 General Locations of Containers

8.2.1.1 Cylinders in storage shall be so located as to minimize exposure to excessive temperature rise, physical damage or tampering.

8.2.1 Cylinders in storage having individual water capacity greater than 2.7 lb (1.1 kg) [nominal 1 lb (0.45 kg) LP-Gas capacity] shall be positioned such that the pressure relief valve is in direct communication with the vapor space of the container.

8.2.1.3 Cylinders stored in buildings in accordance with Section 8.3 shall not be located near exits, stairways, or in areas normally used, or intended to be use, for the safe egress of people.

8.2.1.4 If empty containers which have been in LP-Gas service are stored indoors, they shall be considered as full containers for the purposes of determining the maximum quantities of LP-Gas permitted in 8.3.1, 8.3.2.1 and 8.3.3.1

8.2.1.5 Cylinders shall not be stored on roofs.

8.2.2 Protection of Valves on Cylinders in Storage.

8.2.2.1 Cylinder valves shall be protected as required by 5.2.6.1 and 7.2.2.5.

8.2.2.2 Screw-on type caps or collars shall be securely in place on all cylinders stored regardless of whether they are full, partially full or empty, and container outlet valves shall be closed.

8.3 Storage Within Buildings

8.3.2 Storage within Buildings Frequented by the Public and in Residential Occupancies.

8.3.2.1 The quantity of LP-Gas in cylinders stored or displayed shall not exceed 200 lb (91 kg) in one location, with additional storage separated by 50 ft (15 m). The maximum quantity to be stored in one building shall not exceed 1000 lb (454 kg).

8.3.3 Storage within Buildings Not Frequented by the Public (Such as Industrial Buildings).

8.3.3.1 The maximum quantity of LP-Gas allowed in one storage location shall not exceed 735 lb (334 kg) water capacity [nominal 300 lb (136 kg) LP-Gas].

8.3.3.2 Where additional storage locations are required on the same floor within the same building, they shall be separated by a minimum of 300 ft (91 m).

8.3.3.3 Storage beyond the limitations described in 8.3.3.2 shall comply with 8.3.4.

8.3.3.4 Cylinders carried as a part of the service equipment on highway mobile vehicles shall not be part of the total storage capacity in 8.3.3.1, where such vehicles are stored in private garages and carry no more than three cylinders with a total aggregate capacity per vehicle not exceeding 100 lb. (45.4 kg) of propane.

8.3.4 Storage within Special Buildings or Rooms.

8.3.4.1 The maximum quantity of LP-Gas which may be stored in special buildings or rooms shall be 10,000 lb (4540 kg).

8.3.4.2 Special buildings or rooms for storing LP-Gas cylinders shall not be located where the buildings or rooms adjoin the line of property occupied by schools, churches, hospitals, athletic fields or other points of public gathering.

8.3.4.3 The construction of all such special buildings, and rooms within, or attached to, other buildings, shall comply with Chapter 10 and following:

 

(1) Vents to the outside only shall be provided at both the top and bottom of the building and shall be located at least 5 ft (1.5 m) from any building opening.

(2) The entire area shall be classified for purposes of ignition source control in accordance with Section 6.22.

 
8.4 Storage Outside of Buildings

8.4.1 Location of Storage Outside of Buildings.

8.4.1.2 Distances from cylinders in storage outside of building shall be in accordance with table 8.4.1.2 with respect to the following:

 

(1) Nearest important building or group of buildings.

(2) Line of adjoining property that can be built upon.

(3) Busy thoroughfares or sidewalks on other than private property.

(4) Line of adjoining property occupied by schools, churches, hospitals, athletic fields or other points of public gathering.

(5) Dispensing station.

 
Table 8.4.1.2 Distances from Cylinders in Storage and Exposures
Quantity of LP-Gas Stored
Horizontal Distance to (1) and (2)
Horizontal Distance to (3) and (4)
Horizontal Distance to (5)
720 lb (227 kg) or less
0 ft (0 m)
0 ft (0 m)
5 ft (1.5 m)
721 to 2500 lb (227+ to 1134 kg)
0 ft (0 m)
10 ft (3 m)
10 ft (3 m)
2501 to 6000 lb (1134+ to 2721 kg)
10 ft (3 m)
10 ft (3 m)
10 ft (3 m)
6001 to 10,000 lb (2721+ to 4540 kg)
20 ft (6.1 m)
20 ft (6.1 m)
20 ft (6.1 m)
>10,000 lb (>4540 kg)
25 ft (7.6 m)
25 ft (7.6 m)
25 ft (7.6 m)

8.4.3 Alternate Location and Protection of Storage.

8.4.3.1 When the provisions of 8.4.1 and 8.4.1.2 are impractical at construction sites or at buildings or structures undergoing major renovation or repairs, the storage of containers shall be acceptable to the authority having jurisdiction.

8.5 Fire Protection

8.5.1 Storage locations, where the aggregate quantity of propane stored is in excess of 720 lb (327 kg), shall be provided with at least one approved portable fire extinguisher having a minimum capacity of 18 lb (9.2 kg) dry chemical with a B:C rating.

8.5.2 The required fire extinguisher shall be located no more than 50 ft (15 m) from the storage location. Where fire extinguishers have more than one letter classification, they can be considered to satisfy the requirements of each letter class.

(Also see NFPA 10.)

Other sources of information regarding storage of LP gas cylinders can be obtained from the Occupational Health and Safety Administrations Standard 29 CFR 1910.101 which covers general requirements regarding compressed gases. This standard refers to the Compressed Gas Associations (CGA) pamphlet. The CGA can be reached at 1-703-788-2700. Additional information is available in Quick Tips #136: Gas Cylinder Storage and Handling. And remember, it is always important to check state and local codes. Your local fire marshall is recommended as a source of information to assure you are in compliance.

Commonly Asked Questions
Q.   Is there a source that outlines distance requirements for proper outside storage of LP gas cylinders?
A.   Yes, NFPA 58 table 8.4.1 outlines distance requirements from buildings, property lines, busy thoroughfares, sidewalks and other points of adjoining public gathering points.
 
Q.   Are there specific storage requirements for indoor storage?
A.   Yes, NFPA 58 8.3.2 and 8.3.3 addresses indoor storage and break it down based on buildings frequented and not frequented by the public.
 
Q.   Does OSHA have a specific regulation addressing this topic?
A.   OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.101, which also refers to the CGA pamphlet.

 

Terminology:

Cylinder: Generally a compressed gas cylinder having a maximum water capacity of 1000 lbs. This is approximately equivalent to 120 gallons of water.

Sources

OSHA 29 CFR 1910.101
NFPA 58 Liquified Petroleum Gas Code-2011
NFPA 1-617-770-3000

(Rev. 5/2014)


Find even more information you can use to help make informed decisions about the regulatory issues you face in your workplace every day. View all Quick Tips Technical Resources at www.grainger.com/quicktips.

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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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