DISCLAIMER: Dr. Martin is not a representative of NFPA. He is a committee volunteer, and his opinions may or may not reflect the official position of NFPA.

Most readers are aware that NFPA 86, the Ovens and Furnaces standard, just underwent a major revision, and the new edition will be available in August. The committee addressed nearly 160 proposals and comments in 2009, and only 15% were rejected outright. Several chapters were relocated and a number of major modifications were implemented.

While most furnace users are familiar with the requirements that apply to their specific equipment, some recent changes may need scrutiny. Occasionally, furnace users are not even aware of seemingly “old” changes because they haven’t purchased new equipment in many years and these old requirements are actually too new to apply to their equipment.

This column includes some of the most common questions the author has received as a consultant, a member of the NFPA 86 Technical Committee and an Industrial Heating columnist.

Q: Does NFPA 86 apply to my furnace?
A: If you have a “furnace,” “oven,” “dryer,” “kiln” or “thermal oxidizer,” chances are good that NFPA 86 does apply to your equipment. The primary categories to which the standard does not apply are: boilers, fluid heaters, solid-fuel combustion equipment and listed heating equipment rated for less than 150,000 BTU/hour.

Q: How can I determine whether NFPA 86 applies to my equipment without actually buying the standard?
A: Compared with many other publishers, NFPA’s standards are very inexpensive, so cost should not be an impediment. Also, NFPA actually provides an opportunity to “preview” the content of every document it sells over the Internet using special software. Previewing the “Applicability” statements in Chapter 1 and the related Annex content should provide sufficient information to help a user decide whether or not to buy the document.

Q: How do NFPA, FM, IRI, etc. relate, and which code has authority over the others?
A: Factory Mutual (FM Global) Property-Loss Prevention Data Sheets and XL-Global Asset Protection Service (formerly IRI or Industrial Risk Insurers) GAP Guidelines are generally not considered "national consensus standards," and they are typically not recognized by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Historically, these documents were developed by the insurers for their use in conjunction with their own insured clients. Furnace/oven users and manufacturers are required to comply with all legally enforceable codes adopted in their jurisdiction. Even if a consensus standard is not legally enforceable in a particular jurisdiction, failure to comply with industry-standard safety requirements is not recommended and may constitute a violation of OSHA’s general-duty clause. While many FM Global and XL-GAPS recommendations are virtually identical to NFPA requirements, it is up to the authority having jurisdiction to review any differences and determine whether the implementation selected by the user is acceptable.