Conflict Brewing Over Potential New Fire Standards

March 4, 2009
A fight appears to be brewing within the pallet industry after the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) proposed revisions to existing compliance standards for pallets.

Opponents charge that those changes would cost billions of dollars to already struggling industries and would not necessarily improve safety.

Neither the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) nor the International Code Council, which help develop fire and electrical codes, has proposed changes related to pallets.

The NASFM plan would affect facilities housing composite blocks and other pallet components made from wood chips and sawdust bound together with plastic resin. Under National Fire Protectors Association 13 standards, reinforced plastic pallets require a two-commodity class sprinkler protection system or large 16.8 k-factor sprinkler protection.

“Our industry supports standards that will contribute to workplace safety,” said Bruce Scholnick, President and CEO of the National Wooden Pallet and Container Association. “But to date, the NASFM has presented no body of evidence to suggest the need for such changes."

NASFM is holding a public hearing March 12 at the offices of Underwriters Laboratory in Northbrook, Ill., to discuss implementation of its proposals. A June 19 conference could see its members implement the proposals.