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NMMA joins on new spray-painting standards

A National Fire Protection Association committee approved a new standard that reduces the fire risks involved in spray-painting large objects, including yachts, in temporary membrane enclosures.

Such enclosures are used in the marine industry for the painting of yachts that are too large to fit into a spray booth. The standard, which requires approval from the full association, not only makes painting safer, but also eases the concerns of fire marshals and regulators who oversee the work.

The new standard will be published in Chapter 18 of the 2015 edition of the NFPA’s code 33.

It also will alleviate concerns of local fire marshals and lift the restrictions that halted work unless a fire official was onsite. It is not expected to increase the cost to paint a yacht and instead will create straightforward guidance for the industry.

The standard has been several years in the making. In 2010, Fort Lauderdale’s fire marshal grew concerned about the shrink-wrapped enclosures he saw at the Lauderdale Marine Center. In 2011, the fire marshal ordered that operations be stopped until firetrucks could be on site and regulatory issues could be discussed. The marine center spearheaded a proposed standard and presented it to the NFPA committee.

NMMA vice president of government relations John McKnight chaired a membrane enclosure standard task force, assisting in the development and passage of the standard. The NFPA is a standards-setting body that the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, local fire marshals and insurers refer to and often cite in regulations.

To support its proposal, last year the marine center designed a controlled test fire, inviting the Fort Lauderdale Fire Department. Results from the test were used to write the standard.

"Insurance companies are not comfortable taking the word of the marine facility on fire safety; they need guidelines," McKnight said in a statement. "The standard sets the bar for fire protection during paint spraying, which is critical for the yard and those who permit and insure it."

The standard includes prohibiting people from sleeping onboard and prohibiting smoking and mixing flammables outside, as well as ensuring adequate ventilation and appropriate fire sprinklers.

"LMC takes pride in operating in a safe manner,” said marine center operations manager Jim Parks, who served on the fire protection committee’s task force.” But without consensus safety standards good intentions do not satisfy the fire marshal and insurance companies.”

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