Accreditation Resource Services Newsletter
October 2020

CIHQ-ARS Blog

Cylinder Storage Requirements

By: William (Billy) Kinch
Cylinder storage requirements can be confusing. I will try to explain it as best I can. One of the biggest misconceptions around the storage of cylinders is when it comes to quantities. Most organizations think that you cannot store more than 12 e-size cylinders in a room. This is NOT true. Let’s start with the basics:
  • One e-cylinder has approximately 24.96 ft.³
  • Twelve e-cylinders equals to 299.52 ft.³
  • One H-cylinder equals to 290 ft.³
Individual cylinders associated with patient care areas with contents totaling ≤ 300 ft.³ may be stored per smoke compartment (22,500 ft.²) and shall not be required to be stored in enclosures provided they are secured. Additionally, tanks may be stored in the corridor in an alcove preferably, so egress isn’t obstructed. The 12 E cylinders counted per smoke compartment is based on full tanks therefore, “in-use” or opened cylinders are not included in the count. Wooden racks are permitted for storage of cylinders with contents totaling ≤ 300 ft.³.
Organizations are permitted to store more than 300 ft.³. (12 e-cylinders) in a room provided that they meet the requirements listed below. These requirements are for areas that are storing 300 ft.³ up to 3,000 ft.³:
  • Storage locations shall be outdoors within an enclosure or within an enclosed interior space constructed of non-combustible / limited combustible materials (gypsum wallboard, tiled walls, etc.) with doors (or gates outdoors) that can be secured against unauthorized entry.
  • In the interior space, gasses shall be separated from combustibles or materials by either:
    • 20’ in areas not protected by sprinklers.
    • 5’ in areas that are protected by sprinklers.
    • An enclosed cabinet of non-combustible construction having a minimum fire protection rating of ½ hour.
  • Cylinders stored outside shall be protected as follows:
    • Against extremes of weather and from the ground below to prevent rusting.
    • During winter against accumulation of ice and snow.
    • During summer, screened against continuous exposure to direct rays of the sun in those locations where extreme temperatures prevail.
For areas that are used to store quantities between 3,000 ft.³ to 30,000 ft.³ the following must be adhered to:
  • Storage shall be constructed with sufficient room to maneuver cylinders.
  • Doors or gates shall be lockable.
  • If outdoors, be provided with an enclosure (wall or fencing) constructed of noncombustible materials.
  • If indoors, walls, floors & ceilings are a minimum of 1-hour fire resistance rating (no allowances for fully sprinklered).
  • Rooms containing gas manifolds are constructed of building materials with a minimum of 1-hour fire resistance rating.
  • Any electrical devices such switches and outlets are compliant with NFPA 70 National Electric Code and are located at, or 5 ft. above, a finished floor to avoid physical damage.
  • Be heated by indirect means (e.g. steam, hot water) if heating is required.
  • Be provided with adequate racks constructed of noncombustible or limited combustible materials and have chains, or other fastenings to secure all cylinders whether full or empty from falling.
  • Provided with a dedicated, continuously operating mechanical ventilation system that draws air from within 1 ft. of the floor with a means of make-up air provided.
  • Where natural ventilation is permitted, it shall consist of two louvered openings, each having a minimum free area of 72” with one located within 1 ft. of the floor and one located within 1 ft. of the ceiling.
Some general storage requirements for all cylinders are as follows:
  • All medical gas cylinders should be physically supported either in a stand, rack, chain, or strapped to the wall. Unsecure cylinders could fall, breaking the valve and possibly result in a rapid release of gas inside propelling the cylinder and creating a dangerous projectile.
  • No flammable materials, cylinders containing flammable gasses, or containers of flammable liquids shall be stored with medical gas cylinders.
  • Cylinders in use and in storage shall be prevented from reaching temperatures in excess of 130º.
  • Cylinders containing compressed gas shall be kept away from radiators, steam piping, and like sources of heat.
To finish it off, here is some more information to keep in mind about the storage of cylinders:
  • Medical gas cylinders are considered to be “in use” if they are:
    • Actually, being used on a patient.
    • Placed in a patient room for immediate use.
    • Secured to equipment such as a gurney, wheelchair, or crash cart.
  • Full cylinders must be segregated from empty cylinders
  • Segregation can be accomplished by:
    • Staff’ know at a glance which cylinders are full, so if needed in a rapid manner there is no delay.
    • Separate racks.
    • Physical barriers.
    • Color coded racks.
    • Other effective means such as the full/empty/in service tag system.
  • Full vs. Empty
    • A full cylinder is one that has never been opened. An empty cylinder is usually considered to be one that has < 500 psi left in the cylinder or is in the “red” section of the pressure gauge.
    • Regulations only address full and empty cylinders. They do not address partial cylinders (i.e. cylinders that have been opened and still have some level of gas > 500 psi remaining). Organizations need to determine how they will manage partial cylinders.
There it is. Storage of cylinders made simple.
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