The use of flammable gases is nowadays a customary situation: the generation of fluorinated gases that is replacing those that have entered the phase out according to the Regulation 517 2014 is characterized by a general mild flammability, which is the main reason of concern of many installation and maintenance technicians from the point of view of regulatory fulfilments.
Some misunderstandings about the management of this factor are caused by a scarce updating affecting those subjects, from engineers to the holders of safety competences, who are not informed about the state of the art of the regulation and consequently risk of misleading or of adding confusion to an already quite nebulous situation in technicians’ minds.
For this reason, Assofrigoristi has decided generating a document that puts order on the matter, starting from an important assumption: the flammability will be a characteristic to be managed in more and more numerous situations in the present and future plant, owing to the boosts that public opinion and legislator are addressing to a more and more massive use of the so-called alternative refrigerants, whose very broad majority is listed in the categories 2 and 3 of flammability. The only “free” refrigerant is the carbon dioxide, but its application is significant in some application fields, certainly not in all.
The document consists of an introductory part, aimed at framing the problem, a section dedicated to the existing regulations, starting from the classification of refrigerants, to illustrate then the provisions of the Fire Regulation.
An in-depth study dedicated to two areas, the EN 378 regulation and the PED Directive, unfortunately scarcely known to the majority, which provide important methodological bases to assess the risk and the prearrangement of formal and substantial management tools of the same.
The regulatory panorama ends with a due reference to the Ministerial Decree 37 dated 2008 that provides the list of the mandatory plant documents, which today it is even more worth knowing since the flammability issue increases the plant technician’s technical responsibility.
We propose for higher efficacy, but just by way of example, an example of correct course for the installation of a plant equipped with an A2L refrigerant, articulated in four phases: risk assessment, design, work execution and work end.
The use of mildly flammable refrigerants is a matter that needs competence, but especially rigor of method and it certainly does not constitute an unsurmountable obstacle for the refrigeration technician.
«Writing this document has been paradoxically easy – comments Andrea Rattacaso, consultant who supports the Scientific Technical Committee of Assofrigoristi – we have reported, as faithfully as possible, the contents of the regulations on the matter, aggregating them in a single text that traces the state of the art on the issue: deploying precise indications about the need of referring to the PED or to the EN 378 Directive is important for an awareness of the basic rules of a designer or refrigeration technician profession, but it has also the value of being able to give some interlocution tools that the technician can use with Firemen to dialogue in an informed, and not inferiority, position caused by the ignorance of the regulation».
The document will be distributed to all participants at any future meeting and will be made available also through our digital channels, to provide its utmost diffusion in the spirit of the sharing and widening of the base of aware and skilled technicians, one of the most important targets pursued by Assofrigoristi since its foundation.