Are you storing your flammable liquids in accordance with the South African National Standard 54470-1 for fire safety cabinets? Hazardous situations or accidents can easily occur in the workplace due to various factors. The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) recently published the SANS 54470-1:2017 for fire safety cabinets which aims to educate users about the safe storage of flammable liquids.

In the event of a fire, the most important protection feature of a good quality safety storage cabinet is to reliably shield flammables against a critical temperature increase over a defined period. 

While there are many types of fire-resistant cabinets on the market, it is important to take note of how much protection they will offer if a fire breaks out.  Use of a superior quality cabinet with a good rating for fire protection will help prevent explosions that could accelerate a fire, allowing adequate time for personnel to escape and for fire rescue services to get the situation under control.

Which fire safety cabinet should you choose?

Steel Storage cabinets – NOT recommended

Steel storage cabinets are usually made from single or double wall steel to the BS476 standard. These cabinets offer only 3 minutes of safe time before the temperature increases to dangerous levels inside the cabinet. After this time the contents of the cabinet will catch alight and intensify the impact of the original fire. The likely result is increased damage to property, serious bodily harm, or even fatalities among employees that were unable to evacuate the building in time. 

Flammable safety storage cabinets approved to SANS 54470-1

The fire safety cabinets approved to SANS 54470-1 standard are designed and built to comply with the European standard for safety storage cabinets, EN 14470-1. These cabinets minimise the risks associated with storing flammable substances by protecting the contents of the cabinet for a known and tested length of time (fire rating). For the first time ever, consideration has been given to the time period required not only for personnel to leave the workplace in the case of a fire, but also for the emergency services to gain access to the facility before stored flammable liquids contribute to an uncontrollable blaze.

The fire resistance of a SANS 54470-1 approved cabinet is defined as the time taken for the temperature inside a cabinet to increase by 180°C at any measured internal point. This means that cabinets can be classified as:

Type 30 - Guarantees a safe time of 30 minutes before the temperature increase on the inside gets critical – 10 x safer than a double wall steel cabinet.

Type 90 - Offers maximum safety.  It takes more than 90 minutes of exposure to a fire before the temperature inside rises to dangerous levels providing the highest possible safety for people and the environment.

For cabinets compliant to SANS 54470-1 and EN 14470-1, Lasec® has you covered with cabinets from German manufacturer, asecos.  These safety cabinets offer the maximum fire rating and will provide peace of mind to those working with flammable liquids daily.  With various sizes and different configurations to choose from, it is possible to have convenient storage of flammables at your workbench while still being safe in your workplace.

Still have questions? We have the answers to correct storage and handling of chemicals, labelling of hazardous materials as well as meeting legal guidelines – Come and visit our asecos expert or attend one of our live experimental lectures on the Storage of Hazardous Materials in 21st Century Laboratories at analytica Lab Africa.

- Meghan Magnussen, Product Manager - Instruments