Fire Marshal Association Appoints Working Group to Study Pallet Fire Issue

April 1, 2009
CHEYENNE, Wyo.A working group has been appointed by the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) to develop an education program for use by

CHEYENNE, Wyo.—A working group has been appointed by the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) to develop an education program for use by code enforcement personnel when inspecting the adequacy of fire protection of pallets.

Chaired by Jim Narva, chief project manager of NASFM, the working group will develop a plan to present to the NASFM board at its June 17 meeting held in conjunction with the NASFM annual conference. If the board accepts the plan, NASFM will then present it to its members during that week.

The initial working group appointed by NASFM includes:

Jim Narva, National Association of State Fire Marshals
TBD, NASFM Model Codes Committee
Bruce Scholnick, National Wooden Pallet and Container Association
Thomas McCarty, FM Approvals
Dan Steppan, Underwriters Laboratories
LeRoi Cochran, IFCO Systems NA, Inc.
Rodney McPhee Canadian Wood Council
David Deal, CHEP
Robert Davidson, Davidson Code Concepts
Loren Caudill, On Board Engineering
TBD, Non-wooden pallet representative
TBD, Representative of pallet user group

NASFM outlined key deliverables it hopes to achieve. These include:

1. End the confusion about what is and is not covered under the existing codes. “Deliverable one will be a plan and budget to finalize the NASFM code application bulletin and then conduct at least seven regional pallet fire safety workshops for the purpose of educating code enforcement officials, pallet companies and major users about the existing rules.

“We would expect the Working Group to recommend a curriculum, materials, presenters and locations. A Web-based approach may be proposed to augment the workshops, but our experience has shown this would not be effective by itself. While this deliverable is intended primarily to address enforcement issues, we should remain mindful that code officials vote independently on changes to the model codes and standards. The more they know and understand these issues, the more informed they will be if asked to vote on pallet fire safety issues that may emerge in the model codes organizations."

2. Validate statements made by the wood pallet industry. “The first statement was that the fire performance of all wood pallets does not vary much, and the second statement was that there is no evidence of major fire incidents involving pallets.

“Here is the second deliverable for the working group: Data in support of these two statements would be important background information for use in the educational workshops and would really help to clarify any risks. We will leave it to the working group to identify possible sources of this information and to fill those gaps that exist, but we all know data is important to good decisions.”

For more on this controversial issue, see MHM's cover story in the April issue.