Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Protecting Your Pets - Understanding NFPA 150



NFPA 150, Standard on Fire and Life Safety in Animal Housing Facilities, clearly defines what must be in place to ensure the safety of you, your animals, and your facility (vet clinics, boarding houses, zoos, etc.).  The goals of this standard are four-fold:
  1. To provide an environment for human occupants inside an animal housing facility that is reasonably safe from fire and similar emergencies.
  2. To provide an environment for animal occupants inside or adjacent to a structure that is reasonably safe from fire and similar emergencies.
  3. To provide reasonable safety for fire fighters and emergency responders during search and rescue operations for animal and human occupants.
  4. To attempt to minimize loss of property and interruption of facility operations from fire and similar emergencies. (NFPA 150:4.1.3.1.1)
To begin to determine what the necessary requirements for your facility are NFPA 150 leads you to chapter 6, where your facility must be appropriately classified and categorized.  This is based on access of the general public, and types of animals potentially on-site.

Class

Class 1 - building housing animals with no general public access (private kennels, processing plants, barns, veterinary clinics)
Class 2 - building housing animals with restricted public access (areas of limited and infrequent public access)
Class 3 - building housing animals with regular public access (zoos, show grounds, pet stores, etc.)

Category

Category A - animals that pose a potential risk to rescuers or the general public, animals that cannot be moved without risk to the health and welfare of the animal or other animals, animals that are impossible or impractical to move, animals that are not mobile or in a mobile enclosure
This would include any animals that are ferrel, diseas carriers, or poisonous, under anesthesia, injured or ill, too large to move, or too large to move without additional staffing, and animals that cannot be led by collars or within rolling cages.
Category B - any animals that do not fall into Category A

Once you have determined the class and category of the facility you can then determine occupant loads, egress requirements, and what fire protection systems will be needed.

The chart below shows industry standard enclosure size requirements (this can be utilized to determine occupant load and egress factors):



NFPA 150 breaks up the protection requirements by class. However, there are several elements that are common to all classes:
  • fire extinguishers required
  • fire alarm system required if over 3,000 sq.ft. (or in any size Class 3 facility)
  • fire sprinkler system required in any facility handling Category A animals
There are sections in NFPA 150 dealing with special hazards, emergency planning, and staff training.  All egress components, human occupant load, and building services generally comply with NFPA 101 guidelines.

For more information onf NFPA 150, read this article from the National Fire Protection Association.