Massachusetts Fire Safety Code Updates
This past December, Massachusetts updated its Massachusetts fire code 527 CMR 1.0. Now any project permitted after December 9th, 2023, must conform to this updated fire code. This update is based on the new 2021 NFPA 1 and contains Massachusetts amendments. Remember that the new Fire Code 527 CMR 1.0 should always be looked at in conjunction with the NFPA standard it is referencing. Along with adopting a new fire code, the state has also adopted a new electrical code, 527 CMR 12.0, this January based on the 2023 version of NFPA 70. Both documents can be found on the Massachusetts State web page. (Fire Code-Massachusetts Fire Code | Mass.gov, Electrical Code-Massachusetts Electrical Code | Mass.gov) Along with these updates, a new state building code is anticipated to be adopted during the summer of 2023.
If a project cannot adhere to these new changes, the Authority having jurisdiction has the opportunity to apply section 1.4. This allows a compliance alteration in the event that the code cannot be complied with and that the intent of the design meets the requirements.
The significant chapter updates are as follows:
Chapter 1 has been updated to adjust the permitting and storage amount for explosives and black powder.
527 CMR Chapter 16 now references the 2022 NFPA 241. This update is significant and will be broken out in a future blog. The update specifically expands building-specific requirements, covers improved communication with the AHJ, added signage, on-site storage hazards, and temporary protection.
527 CMR Chapter 26 specifically covers laboratories and now references the building code 780 CMR. It makes some modifications to the amounts of materials stored in laboratory space and emphasizes the need to communicate quantities and materials to the AHJ and building owner. This Chapter adopts the 2019 version of NFPA 45.
527 CMR Chapter 28 is new to 527 CMR. It covers the commercial storage of boats. It outlines best boat storage practices. It outlines if batteries may be stored with the boats and what other precautions need to be taken.
Parking structures have been a big topic as electric cars have become more popular. 527 CMR new Chapter 29 addressed this new configuration. It covers how fuel such as hydrogen may be stored and defines how car stackers should be treated as elevators. It also has requirements for textile covering dropped on the outside of the garage potentially making it a closed-space garage. (i.e. advertising banners)
527 CMR Chapter 38 covers cannabis grow facilities it now calls for proper carbon dioxide (CO2) monitoring complying with NFPA 55. It also outlines how grow racks and other areas may be set up so that they do not impede egress. Ventilation standards are also now set by this update requiring compliance with NFPA 90A standards.
527 CMR Chapter 44 is new to CMR 527 and addresses the solvent extraction process referencing chapter 60.
527 CMR Chapter 46 addresses 3D printing and is new to the code. It fully adopts NFPA 1’s base language. This outlines the proper handling and processing of the printing materials.
Chapter 50 addresses commercial cooking in particular it calls for more regulations for food trucks. It calls for them to comply with NFPA 96. It also addresses the maintenance of the cooking equipment and its extinguishing system.
527 CMR Chapter 52 adopts the 2020 version of NFPA 855 for energy storage. The added amendments Address how these are permitted and where they may be installed based on size. The update also includes the adoption of UL 9540A test reports to address thermal runaway. It also calls for a hazard mitigation analysis to be done.
New to the code Chapter 55 references NFPA 56 and addresses means and methods of cleaning and purging flammable gas piping systems. This was added to help prevent future accidents and to outline the process.
527 CMR chapter 60 did not have any significant changes to it. The storage amounts tables were just updated to be cleaner and in line with traditional Massachusetts standards.
A significant change to 527 CMR is Chapter 65 blasting. Now pre, blasting surveys do not need to be conducted if an FP297 permit is pulled and is in compliance with the scale distance 50 requirements. This will increase the efficiency of blasting.
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