ASB calls for urgent action on critical US oven issue

by Dan Malovany
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Bakers who are looking to buy a new oven or modify, expand or refurbish an existing one face more stringent process restrictions because of recent revisions of the standards approved by the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), according to Rowdy Brixey, chairman of the American Society of Baking.

Mr. Brixey is urging the baking industry to send a letter to the NFPA to support a temporary interim amendment (TIA 1011) to prompt an NFPA committee to reexamine the new revised regulations, specifically as to how they impact the baking industry’s safety journey. The deadline for sending a letter to the NFPA is January 10, 2011.

According to Mr. Brixey, updates to the NFPA 86 Standard for 2011 applies new safety regulations that will require bakeries to re-purge the oven when more than 400,000 BTUs of baking burners are turned off or faulted for any reason.

Depending on the size of the oven, such a purge might take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes, resulting in the loss of all product that’s currently in the oven as well as a significant amount of products in the proofer and elsewhere on a production line.

NFPA approved the standard to reduce or eliminate the chance of a dangerous conditions caused by excess gas building up in an oven as a result of unlit burners. However, most modern baking ovens today are outfitted with zero gas pressure regulators that eliminate any possibility of gas buildup as a result of unlit burners and pose little safety hazard, Mr. Brixey said.

Additionally, he noted, that modern direct spark ignition systems (DSI) frequently shut off a number of oven burners automatically during a typical baking cycle to stabilize the oven’s temperature or maintain a steady temperature when the oven might be all or partially empty during product changeovers.

Although existing ovens are grandfathered from enforcing the regulation, the revised NFPA 86 Standard for 2011 impacts any new, modified or future refurbishment of an oven. ASB is calling on bakers and US oven suppliers to send in a letter supporting the TIA.

ASB asks bakers to submit a letter stating that they be allowed to expand their operations with new more efficient and safe equipment without the complexities and restrictions in the current NFPA 86 2011 revision. Compliance of the standard as written would require numerous oven shut downs to reignite burners. Since the purge cycle during the shutdown in some cases exceed the baking time for certain products, it would result in a significant hardship, loss of product and production time. The suggested TIA 1011 will more than maintain the safety of their operations and allow for uninterrupted production.

Mr. Brixey also urged equipment manufacturers to contribute letters regarding how the new standards will make it difficult to them to manufacture ovens at reasonable prices. Since some ovens can have up to 300 burners, the revisions to NFPA 86-2011 would add significant cost and complexity to already safe systems. This would be highly burdensome to our customers and the complexity will increase.

Public comments should be addressed to Secretary of the Standards Council using the following e-mail address TIAs_Errata_FIs@nfpa.org. For more technical information and sample letters, ASB recommends that bakers and equipment manufacturers contact the society at www.asbe.org or visit NFPA’s site at www.nfpa.org.

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