With serious fires damaging cannabis growing and processing facilities, watch for NFPA’s upcoming guidance

by Brianna Crandall — June 28, 2021 — The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recently announced that the NFPA Standards Council has approved the development of NFPA 420, Standard on Fire Protection of Cannabis Growing and Processing Facilities. The new standard, which was originally proposed in response to serious fires that have occurred at cannabis facilities in recent years, will provide clear guidance on fire protection standards for facilities that produce, process and extract cannabis.

NFPA logoKristin Bigda, technical lead of Building and Life Safety at NFPA, stated:

With the rapid legalization of medical and/or recreational use of cannabis throughout the U.S. and the exponential growth of cannabis facilities around the globe, developing provisions that minimize fire and associated risks for facility staff and first responders — as well as nearby structures and occupants — is critical to safety.

NFPA 420 will build upon the work started several years ago in NFPA 1, Fire Code, which addresses the fire protection aspects of the growing and processing facilities. The new stand-alone document will expand upon those requirements, referencing appropriate resources as needed, with the overall goal of addressing the protection of facilities from fire and related hazards where cannabis is being grown, processed, extracted and/or tested.

Blazes at cannabis facilities across the U.S. continue to be reported in the news, underscoring the timeliness and relevance of the new standard, says NFPA — in April, a three-alarm fire destroyed a cannabis facility in Shelton, Washington.

NFPA 420 is envisioned by the council to include requirements for inspecting, systems testing, and maintenance of cannabis growing, processing, and extraction facilities. It also is anticipated to establish the general skills, knowledge and experience required among facility operators and facility managers (FMs) responsible for ensuring adequate levels of safety at these facilities.

The start-up roster for the Technical Committee on Fire Protection of Cannabis Growing and Processing Facilities (CGP-AAA) will be appointed at the NFPA Standards Council meeting in August 2021. Applications to serve on the committee are being accepted through June 15, 2021.

Code officials and enforcers, AHJs, facilities managers, business owners, and others interested in the fire protection of cannabis facilities, are encouraged to visit the NFPA Cannabis Fire Safety Resources page to access and/or download a wide range of associated information and resources.