Bulletin 119 January 2009 Propane Explosion Makes People Think About Safety
- Posted at: September 25, 2021 04:16:26

The recent propane fire and explosion in Toronto has made us all stop and think about propane safety, whether it’s using our BBQ, on a forklift or simply storing our cylinders. It is also first in mind for those who enforce the regulations in Ontario and are actively trying to maintain public safety. To assist our customers with safety and compliance, we have outlined some of the basic things that they should be aware of. All propane cylinders must be stored based on the requirements of the Propane Storage and Handling Code. This requires that cylinders are stored outside, at least 10 feet away from any sources of ignition. At commercial or industrial facilities they should be stored either in a cabinet or compound that has a “no smoking” sign. Cabinets with up to 500kg of propane must be at least 3 ft (1m) from any building opening. They must also be 3 ft (1m) from other flammable compressed gas containers and 20 ft (6m) from containers or dispensers for flammable and combustible liquids. At residential locations, they must be stored outside and away from ignition sources. Though there is no Provincial regulation stating that propane cylinders cannot be stored or used on balconies, tenants should check the local by-laws or their landlord-tenant agreements before doing this.

Whether it is a forklift or ice machine, propane is commonly used to power them….and that means that someone has to exchange the cylinder when they run out of fuel. When doing this the operator should shut the cylinder valve off and let the machine run until the fuel in the fuel line runs out. This minimizes the risk of any fuel escaping during the exchange. Once the empty cylinder has been disconnected and taken out, the new cylinder should be inspected for damage and validated for the manufacture or re-qualification date. By law, cylinders cannot be filled if they are more than 10 years past the manufacture or re-qualification date. As the new cylinder is placed in the cradle, it must be positioned so that the relief valve is at the top of the cylinder (in the vapour space). This happens automatically when the cylinder is aligned so that the pin on the cradle can be put through the hole in the cylinder. Operators should check that the O rings are in place and in good condition. This helps to ensure that the connection will be leak-free. Before connecting, the operator should put on neoprene gloves and safety glasses in case there is a leak. Lastly, once the operator has opened the service valve, he/she should check for leaks with a soap and water solution (spray on and look for bubbles) and correct any leaks before starting the engine. Cylinder filling is generally done at a service station, propane marketer filling plant or at a filling station set up at a manufacturing facility. Cylinders can be filled either by weight (using a scale) or by volume (using the “spit” valve). In either case, the person filling must be trained and have a Record of Training (ROT) indicating they have been trained by recognized organization. The requirements for training are outlined in the Fuel Industry Certificates Regulation (215/01) under the Technical Standards and Safety Act. For further information you can visit their web site at www.tssa.org.

When customers are transporting cylinders from the filling location back to their residence or workplace they must follow the Transportation of Dangerous Goods requirements. In an open vehicle, such as a pick up truck, it is permissible to carry up to 5 cylinders provided they are transported upright, secured in place and ventilated with the labels visible from the outside. In a closed vehicle, such as a regular passenger car often used to carry cylinders from the service station to home or work, they should be either in the trunk with the lid blocked open for ventilation, or in the back seat on the floor of the passenger side with the window open. Again, they must be transported upright and secured.

This article was contributed by Firepoint Inc, serving the GTA since 1997, developing fire department approved fire safety plans for newly constructed and existing buildings. Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information, the bulletin publishers and authors do not guarantee, warrant, represent or undertake that the information provided is correct, accurate or current and shall not be liable for any loss, claim, or demand arising directly or indirectly from any use or reliance upon the bulletin information. Bulletin reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without the written consent of Firepoint Inc. Copyright 2021 – All Rights Reserved. See www.firepoint.ca or call 905-874-9400.

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