December 19, 2017 by Jonathan Roberts
The 2018 edition of the International Fire Code (IFC) has a new Section 1205 covering stationary fuel cell power systems. This requires prepackaged fuel cell power systems to be listed and labeled in accordance with the Canadian Standards Association’s CSA FC 1 and modules and components in a pre-engineered fuel cell power system to be listed and labeled in accordance with CSA FC 1, American National Standard for Fuel Cell Power Systems. Field fabricated fuel cell power systems are also required to have a fire risk evaluation and be evaluated to demonstrate compliance with CSA FC 1 as well as the applicable requirements of National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 2 Hydrogen Technologies Code and NFPA 853 Standard for the Installation of Stationary Fuel Cell Power Systems.
The IFC also has requirements for fire rated fire barriers and horizontal assemblies to separate fuel cell rooms from other occupancies within the same building and for the fuel supply to a fuel cell system to comply with the International Mechanical Code (IMC). A ventilation and exhaust system and fire suppression is required to be provided in accordance with NFPA 853. A gas detection system that will activate an audible alarm at a gas concentration of no more than 25% of the lower flammable limit (LFL) is also required to shut down the system and close safety valves in the fuel supply.
The 2018 NFPA 1 Fire Code does not address fuel cells specifically because it is addressed by its own standard. However, Hydrogen is addressed as a component issue for hydrogen fuel cells in Chapter 42 Refueling, Chapter 52 Energy Storage Systems, Chapter 60 Hazardous Materials and Chapter 63 Compressed Gases and Cryogenic Fluids with references to NFPA 2 and NFPA 853 which references ANSI/ CSA FC-1 just as the IFC does.