Question: Do flammable cabinets need to be vented?
Answer: Some local jurisdictions require flammable storage cabinets to vent to an ambient outdoor location, which is one reason why you find vent ports near the top and bottom of flammable safety cabinets.
In most cases, however, cabinets do not need to be vented. In fact, the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) and most cabinet suppliers recommend keeping the vent plugs on flammables cabinets closed.
The NFPA sets the design criteria for flammable liquids storage cabinets in Code 30, 9.5, which include:
- Construction details for the types of materials that may be used
- How joints must be fastened
- How the doors must latch
- Limits for the internal temperature of the cabinet when subjected to a 10-minute fire test
The Code specifically states that venting is not required [NFPA Code 30, 9.5.4] and further suggests that venting could compromise a cabinet’s ability to properly protect contents in the event of a fire [NFPA Code 30, A.9.5.4]. NFPA does acknowledge that some local authorities having jurisdiction (AHJ) require cabinets to be vented and, in some cases, it may be “desirable for other reasons, such as health and safety.”
NFPA Code 30, 184.108.40.206 outlines the requirements for ducting vented cabinets:
“If a storage cabinet is ventilated for any reason, the vent openings shall be ducted directly to a safe location outdoors or to a treatment device designed to control volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and ignitable vapors in such a manner that will not compromise the specified performance of the cabinet and in a manner that is acceptable to the AHJ.”