Fire Safety Code Compliance in Cannabis Facilities

Which fire safety codes does a cannabis facility need to follow to be in compliance?

TERPconsulting’s code consultants and fire protection engineers are experts at making sure your cannabis facility is in jurisdictional compliance with life safety building codes

TERPconsulting’s fire protection engineers play a critical role in ensuring that cannabis facilities comply with life safety codes and regulations to create a safe workspace for employees, customers, and the environment. With the guidance of the experts at TERPconsulting, cannabis facilities, such as a labs, cultivation, processing facilities, or dispensaries, protection measures can be implemented to minimize the risk of fire, smoke, and toxic gas release. We can work to ensure that essential fire detection and suppression systems  procedures are installed and working effectively.


What is the first step in the fire protection engineering process to ensure a safe cannabis facility?

Cannabis Extractions Fire Protection EngineeringOne of the first steps in confirming fire protection compliance in a cannabis facility involves designing the building’s fire protection and life safety systems, including egress, passive barrier elements, compartmentalization, fire alarm (i.e., detection and notification), sprinkler systems, and fire suppression systems. To properly apply minimum fire/life safety system requirements, the functionality and intent of the space must be understood to accurately identify the requirements applicable by base code requirements.

Fire suppression systems are integral to properly protecting many cannabis spaces and uses; however, specific requirements are driven by base building and fire codes and local ordinances. Suppression systems, in particular sprinkler systems in accordance with NFPA 13 – Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems are often required for cannabis-based occupancies. Toensure that fire suppression systems are working effectively, TERPconsulting conducts commissioning and testing of fire suppression systems, such as sprinkler systems and gas suppression systems, to ensure they are in working order and meet the intent of the code and minimum design criteria. In addition, it is important to inspect the building’s passive barrier elements such as fire doors and fire/smoke dampers to ensure they are functioning as designed and that they provide an effective barrier to the spread of smoke and fire.

An additional service for cannabis facilities that TERPconsulting specializes in is designing of fire alarm systems that meets the latest standards and codes along with any unique hazards presented by the application or use of the specific cannabis space. The fire alarm system often includes smoke detectors, heat detectors, and manual pull stations, as well as an alarm panel that is monitored 24/7 by a central station in accordance with requirements established by NFPA 72 National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code.

Does a cannabis facility need a risk assessment performed?

Another step in ensuring the safety of a cannabis facility is performing a comprehensive fire risk assessment that includes the identification and classification of hazardous materials used in the facility and the facility’s processes. The hazmat experts at TERPconsulting can assess the materials and prepare a Hazardous Material Inventory Statement (HMIS). . The results of this hazmat assessment are used to develop a comprehensive fire protection plan that outlines the necessary fire protection engineering resources to keep the facility in compliance with codes and regulations, often referenced as a Hazardous Materials Management Plan (HMMP).

Cannabis facilities have unique fire protection requirements related to hazardous materials due to the nature of their operations. For example, it is important to consider the flammability of the materials used in a cannabis facility, such as solvents and other chemicals, and to ensure that they are stored and used in a safe manner that minimizes the risk of fire. Where quantities of hazardous materials exceed the maximum allowable quantity (MAQ) permitted by the base building and fire code, additional  considerations may be necessary to best protect the occupancy. TERPconsulting personnel can work with your design team to reconfigure your space to maintain operational workflow while also addressing minimum fire/life safety requirements as efficiently as possible (i.e., control areas).

In addition, it is important to consider the ventilation requirements in a cannabis facility, as proper ventilation is often required and can help minimize the risk of fire and control the spread of smoke in the event of a fire. For instance, during the design of a cannabis processing facility, specific exhaust system design criteria to deal with hazardous gasses can be established by the cannabis specialists at TERPconsulting.

Cannabis Extractions Fire Protection Engineering 2

Which NFPA codes and standards need to be adhered to by a cannabis facility?

Currently, NFPA 420 — Standard on Fire Protection of Cannabis Growing and Processing Facilities, is in the early development stages. The drafting of NFPA 420 originated because of a series of fires that occurred at cannabis facilities. The objective of NFPA 420 is to build on the work started several years ago using NFPA 1 Fire Code as a guide which addresses the fire protection aspects of cultivation and processing facilities. Once NFPA 420 has been drafted, reviewed, and approved the standard will provide guidance on fire protection and general life safety standards for facilities that produce, process, and extract cannabis. One of TERPconsulting’s cannabis facility experts currently serves as the Fundamental Task Force Chair for NFPA 420.

While a final draft of NFPA 420 is being completed, cannabis facilities must adhere to International Fire Code (IFC) or NFPA 1, when adopted by the local authority. IFC specifically addresses the processing and extraction of oils and fats from plants, including cannabis, in Chapter 39. Similarly, NFPA 1 institutes requirements in Chapter 38 for extraction facilities. This includes establishing minimum fire/life safety requirements, implementing safety measures typically required or recommended for cannabis extraction processing such as gas detection, ventilation, and fire suppression. Other considerations should include industry best practices which are evolving due to the progression of the industry.

Fire protection engineering services provided by TERPconsulting are essential to ensuring the compliance and safety of cannabis facilities. By conducting a comprehensive fire risk assessment, ensuring proper installation and maintenance of fire/life safety systems in combination with regular testing of fire suppression systems and fire alarms, cannabis facilities can minimize the risk of fire and loss to their facilities and operations.

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