Experts Warn, National Fire Protection Standard Could Cause Fires
Lightning Electrotechnologies' longstanding recommendation to remove a section of NFPA 780 supported in recent ICLP statement
MONTREAL, Nov. 2, 2022 -- On Thursday, October 27, 2022, the most respected and authoritative body of lightning protection experts in the world, the Scientific Committee of the International Conference on Lightning Protection (ICLP) issued a statement regarding the National Fire Protection Association Standard for lightning protection NFPA 780. The statement repeated concerns expressed publicly for years by Lightning Electrotechnologies Inc. of Canada, making the same recommendation: to remove a section of the NFPA Standard.
"The Standard has been doing the opposite of what it's supposed to be doing," Amir Rizk of Lightning Electrotechnologies said. "It's increasing the risk of lightning related fires."
The problem relates to Annex N of NFPA 780, lightning protection for nonmetallic tanks, which may contain flammable vapor. The hazardous section, N.4 refers to the use of "an Inductive Neutralizer," previously called "an Internal Static Drain." Basically, it's a conductor equipped with needlelike protrusions or which is wrapped in metal tinsel or conductive fibers and is suspended inside a nonmetallic tank.
The ICLP statement was signed by the president of the Scientific Committee and lists all the committee members, which notably includes some of the most renowned experts in the field. The Statement reads in part:
"The presence of an inductive neutralizer inside a nonmetallic tank could be potentially hazardous in the event of nearby lightning activity and the resultant presence of lightning electromagnetic fields. It is also potentially hazardous in the event of direct strikes since the grounded inductive neutralizer would be electrically connected to the lightning protection system and thus a potential rise comparable to the one impressed onto the lightning rod, would be impressed onto the inductive neutralizer suspended inside the nonmetallic tank."
"If the objective was to intentionally start lightning-related fires, it's hard to think of anything better," said Amir Rizk of Lightning Electrotechnologies. "These devices are likely to have been implicated in many fires at petrochemical facilities and should be removed ASAP."
Despite repeated warnings by Lightning Electrotechnologies via the NFPA public comments process, as well as submitting a laboratory test video to members of the appropriate Technical Committee demonstrating the problem, no consequential action was taken. Furthermore, little to no attention was paid to actual science-based solutions using established engineering techniques like electromagnetic shielding (building a frequency-specific faraday cage for nonmetallic tanks). An example of this is also demonstrated in the aforementioned laboratory test video.
"Unfortunately, many people assume that these standards are being written by experts, but this is simply not the case. Membership on the Technical Committee of a standard like NFPA 780 requires no academic credentials. We just focused on the most grotesque example in NFPA 780 to draw the attention of the ICLP, however that standard contains other problematic aspects," said Mr. Rizk. "And there are other problematic lightning protection standards."
Lightning Electrotechnologies Inc. is a Canadian manufacturer of science-based lightning protection equipment.
Lightning Electrotechnologies Inc.
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SOURCE Lightning Electrotechnologies