CSB Commends International Code Council for Prohibiting "Gas Blows"

Published February 13, 2014

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) commends the International Code Council’s (ICC) revisions to ICC’s 2015 International Fire Code and International Fuel Gas Code, which prohibit the practice of “gas blows,” or the use of flammable gas to clean piping. CSB Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso noted in a press release that ICC’s revised codes will likely gain the force of regulation as state and local jurisdictions move to adopt them.

According to CSB, ICC’s code revisions align with the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) new gas process safety standard, “Standard for Fire and Explosion Prevention during Cleaning and Purging of Flammable Gas Piping Systems.” NFPA’s standard was developed based on an urgent recommendation from CSB following the Feb. 7, 2010, natural gas explosion at an electric plant in Middletown, Conn. The explosion occurred during a gas blow and killed six workers and injured at least 50 others.

According to CSB, the practice of using flammable gas to clean piping is inherently unsafe, and there are alternative non-flammable methods to clean piping available, such as blowing with compressed air.

“ICC’s actions reflect an important shift in industry good practice,” said Moure-Eraso. “The strong actions by both ICC and NFPA on fuel gas safety blaze a trail for regulatory action by OSHA on this topic.”

According to CSB, the agency’s recommendation for OSHA to develop a fuel gas standard has not yet been acted upon.

Read more in CSB’s press release.