Why are special requirements for heating units needed to mitigate fire risk in vehicle repair shops?

December 3, 2021

by Nils Deacon, Manager, Inspections and Rating Services

Flammable liquids, including gasoline, diesel oil, and oil-based paints are an integral part of operations in various vehicle repair shops. These hazardous liquids need to be handled carefully in order to prevent a catastrophic fire loss. Accidental ignition from open flame heating sources is a major reason for fires in these facilities. Flammable vapors can migrate along the shop floor to the combustion chamber of the heating unit and ignite.

NFPA 30A, The Code for Motor Fuel Dispensing Facilities and Repair Garages provides specific guidance in dealing with these hazards.

The combustion chamber of heating sources are required to be a minimum of 8’ above the floor if located in the shop area. Alternately, the heating unit should be located in a separate room from where flammable liquids are present, with no openings to the repair area.

DISCLAIMER: This information reflects the interpretation of MSO, Inc. with regard to NFPA Standards and Codes. It does not represent NFPA’s official position on the items discussed.

Suspended heating unit