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Public Affairs Office: 617-984-7275

Does your backyard gas grill have the new required safety valve?
NFPA reminds consumers propane cylinder upgrade goes into effect April 1

Quincy, MA, March 15, 2001A new provision of an existing safety code developed by NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) which takes effect on April 1, requires overfilling prevention devices (OPDs) on propane cylinders weighing between 4 and 40 lbs., commonly used for appliances like outdoor gas grills.

An OPD is a safety valve that shuts off the flow of gas to a cylinder after 80 percent capacity has been reached. This limits the potential for release of gas when the cylinder is heated, averting a fire hazard or personal injury. Since 1998, all new propane cylinders from 4- to 40-pound propane capacity, have been equipped with OPDs.

Cylinders manufactured after September 30, 1998, are equipped with OPDs and require no change.

Older cylinder models must now be retrofitted with the device before refilling can occur, under the requirement, or the cylinder should be discarded properly and replaced with an OPD-equipped cylinder. Many filling outlets have the capacity to retrofit or recycle obsolete cylinders. In many parts of the U.S., exchange cylinder racks can be used to swap an empty cylinder without an OPD for a full cylinder equipped with an OPD, for a nominal fee, eliminating the need to dispose of the cylinder or to have it retrofitted.

NFPA 58, Liquified Petroleum Code, a consensus code developed by NFPA which contains the new provision, is adopted in every U.S. state and is enforceable by the authority having jurisdiction in individual states, be it the fire service, building officials, state agencies, or other bodies. Because adoptions within states are not always to the current editions, there are some states that have not adopted either the 1998 or 2001 edition of the Code, which include the OPD requirement.

However, because manufacturers have been producing OPD-equipped cylinders since 1998, these cylinders will eventually replace the non-OPD cylinders even in states where the current NFPA 58 has not been adopted.

"OPDs will protect against overfilling cylinders and decrease the number of possible fires from this source," said Ted Lemoff, principal gases engineer at NFPA. "This requirement will enhance consumer safety."

How can one tell if a cylinder currently lacks an OPD?  If the cylinder valve has either a round or star-shaped hand wheel, it needs an OPD. OPDs have hand-wheels that are triangular in shape, but a small number of early production OPD-equipped cylinders did not. These are stamped "OPD" on the brass valve body.

Costs to upgrade or replace a cylinder vary. For information on discarding an old cylinder, please contact your propane refiller, or hazardous waste collection site.



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