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Paint Booth Fire Protection

NFPA-33 Spray Application for Flammable and Combustible Materials requires an automatic fire protection system for all spray booths.  Here are some frequent questions about this paint booth issue.  This information is offered as a guide; your local inspector and fire marshal will be experienced in their interpretation and local codes.

  1. Who do I buy this system from? – These systems are made by only a few certified manufacturers like Amerex, Pyrochem, Anzul and Badger.  They can often be purchased through the spray booth seller.
  2. Can I do the installation myself? – No.  Installation should be done by a licensed installer.
  3. What if I have a wet sprinkler system in the building? – A self-contained system is designed to extinguish a fire in the paint booth, plenums or ductwork, all areas that the building’s system will rarely reach.  Some smaller, limited-use open-face paint booths may be approved by your local authorities as being adequately protected with the building’s wet sprinkler system.  Consult your local inspector and fire marshal for that specific application.
  4. Are there size limitations to the booth? – Yes.  Open-face spray booths should be no more than 12’ high due to the design limits of these systems.  Higher open-face booths can be protected but at a significant cost.  The larger the spray booth, the more ductwork and the greater number of fans all add to the cost of the fire protection system.
  5. What are the maintenance requirements? – After the initial installation, most system providers can be contracted for annual inspections.   This annual inspection will include checking the pressure of the chemical tanks, the mechanics of the system, the fusible links (the automatic part of the system) and the control panel.  They will apply an inspection tag much like a portable fire extinguisher’s.  This contractor should be notified after any trigger event of the system or when any question arises about the system.
  6. What is the major difference in wet versus dry systems? – NFPA-33 allows either system.  The dry system is designed using the same technology as restaurant fire protection system made to work on oil/grease fires, mush like the solvents found in most paints.  A wet system simply works with water and may not stop a solvent-laden fire as quickly as the dry system.  The dry system should work better in corners, ductwork and plenums.  The dry system should be easier to clean up after a suppression event.

Fire protection is one of the main reasons to have a spray booth, along with providing a clean spraying environment, fume/overspray controls and safe lighting.  A paint booth owner must complete the process of building a spray booth by making sure that a certified installer completes a pre-designed fire protection system and that the system is maintained.

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