For this Q&A, we answer the question of whether or not sprinklers are required by code inside industrial ovens.
Q: Do I need sprinklers in my oven?
A: Where the oven itself is of non-combustible construction, it is typically the materials processed in the oven that determines the need for fire protection.
NFPA 86 Chapter 14, requires that “a study shall be conducted to determine the need for fixed or portable fire protection systems for ovens, furnaces, or related equipment” and that “the determination of the need for fire protection systems shall be based on a review of the fire hazards associated with the equipment”. Section 3006.1 of the IFC requires that “Class A and B ovens which contain, or are utilized for the processing of, combustible materials shall be protected by an approved automatic fire-extinguishing system complying with Chapter 9.”
We get most of the questions from the statement in the IFC. The interpretation is often that the paint is the combustible material. FM Global, a leading commercial insurance company, publishes engineering guidelines written to help reduce the risk of property loss. FM Data sheet 6-9 Industrial Ovens and Dryers contains a section on fire protection. Section 18.104.22.168 recommends automatic sprinkler protection if you have any one of the following conditions:
- Oven construction is combustible
- Material being processed is combustible
- Racks, trays, spacers, or containers are combustible
- Appreciable accumulations of combustible drippings or deposits are present on the interior oven surfaces or on racks, trays, etc.
- Provide sprinkler protection for dipped or flow-coated metal at least in the part of the oven where dripping occurs and throughout some ovens, such as those for baking expanded-metal lath. Sprayed metal parts or lithograph-coated metals do not generally contain sufficient combustibles to require protection in the oven work space; electrical equipment with exposed insulation does.
- Provide automatic sprinklers in ducts or plenum chambers that accumulate combustible deposits, and in the housings or impeller casings of large, important fans.
The final decision regarding the level of fire protection lies with the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). The AHJ may be the owner, building inspector, fire marshal, insurance provider or other enforcement agent.
We recommend that a review of the fire hazard association with the particular application be performed by qualified personnel familiar with the materials processed as well as an understanding of oven construction and safety features. We feel that the FM guideline provides direction that meets the intent of both NFPA 86 and the IFC. At this time, GFS does not provide fire hazard evaluations but can assist in the review process by addressing specific question regarding the safety features and construction of the industrial ovens we supply.