What Regulations to Use When Installing a Standby Generator System?
Your company is considering a tender invitation to install an emergency generator and supply tank inside a building. What code should this installation follow and do you have people that are qualified and/or approved to do the work? The Alberta Fire Code (AFC) clearly states that supply tanks must be installed in accordance with that code. It’s also clear that the piping and the appliance (gen set) must be installed in accordance with CSA B139, “Installation Code for Oil Burning Equipment”. The rules seem pretty straight forward but watch for potential changes as we expect the next edition of the fire code. The AFC is modelled after the National Fire Code (NFC). The Alberta government would prefer that all technical requirements are exactly the same as the national code.
The NFC only recognizes the 2009 edition of B139 which limits tanks to a maximum capacity of 2,500 litres. Supply tanks for standby generators and fire pumps are typically larger than 2,500 litres. In most jurisdictions in Canada the B139 standard is what’s followed to install a standby generator system, including the tank, any day-tanks, piping and the appliance itself. As a code of 286 pages, B139 is a much more useful guidance document than the Fire Code for these installations. We’ll have to watch for the publishing of the 2021 NFC and the updated Alberta Fire Code to see if the Alberta position changes and reverts to the model NFC. The National Fire Code is not expected to recognize the current edition of B139 (and larger tanks) until 2025 at the earliest.
The Alberta Fire Code can create some confusion around qualification of individuals who install standby generators and fire pumps for building sprinkler systems. Individuals must be approved by the provincial fire administrator to install storage tank systems. The Fire Code defines a storage tank system as a tank and dispensing equipment. Would a generator be considered a dispenser – not if you’re using the nomenclature people in the petroleum industry use. Never-the-less, local fire departments often look for a certification of some sort to install gen-sets in buildings. The Provincial Fire Administrator recognizes our sister organization, CPCA, to train and certify individuals to do installations. CPCA does not, however, provide training or examinations for generator system installations. So, does your company have qualified and approved people for the job? It really depends on the stance taken by the local fire department or the Alberta Safety Codes Authority (depending on the municipality). APSSCA is waiting to see the 2021 Alberta Fire Code before offering suggestions to clarify code and contractor certification inconsistencies. We’ll keep you informed.