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  • EFFECTIVE USE OF THE INTERNATIONAL FUEL GAS CODE

    The IFGC is a model code that regulates the design and installation of fuel gas distribution piping and systems, appliances, appliance venting systems, combustion air provisions, gaseous hydrogen systems and motor vehicle gaseous-fuel-dispensing stations. The definition of fuel gas includes natural, liquefied petroleum and manufactured gases and mixtures of these gases.

    The purpose of the code is to establish the minimum acceptable level of safety and to protect life and property from the potential dangers associated with the storage, distribution and usage of fuel gases and the byproducts of combustion of such fuels. The code also protects the personnel that install, maintain, service and replace the systems and appliances addressed by this code.

    With the exception of Section 401.1.1, the IFGC does not address utility-owned piping and equipment (i.e., anything upstream of the point of delivery). See the definition of “Point of delivery” and Section 501.8 for other code coverage exemptions.

    The IFGC is primarily a specification-oriented (prescriptive) code with some performance-oriented text. For example, Section 503.3.1 is a performance statement, but Chapter 5 contains prescriptive requirements that will cause Section 503.3.1 to be satisfied.

    The IFGC applies to all occupancies including one- and two-family dwellings and townhouses. The IRC is referenced for coverage of one- and two-family dwellings and townhouses; however, in effect, the IFGC provisions are still applicable because the fuel gas chapter in the IRC (Chapter 24) is composed entirely of text extracted from the IFGC. Therefore, whether using the IFGC or the IRC, the fuel gas provisions will be identical. The IFGC does not apply to piping systems that operate at pressures in excess of 125 psig for natural gas and 20 psig for LP-gas (note exception in Section 402.6).

    The general Section 105.2 and the specific Sections 304.8, 402.3, 503.5.5 and 503.6.9 allow combustion air provisions, pipe sizing and chimney and vent sizing to be performed by approved engineering methods as alternatives to the prescriptive methods in the code.

    Arrangement and Format of the 2015 IFGC

    The format of the IFGC allows each chapter to be devoted to a particular subject, with the exception of Chapter 3, which contains general subject matters that are not extensive enough to warrant their own independent chapter.

    Chapter 1 Scope and Administration. Chapter 1 establishes the limits of applicability of the code and describes how the code is to be applied and enforced. A fuel gas code, like any other code, is intended to be adopted as a legally enforceable document, and it cannot be effective without adequate provisions for its administration and enforcement. The provisions of Chapter 1 establish the authority and duties of the code official appointed by the jurisdiction having authority and also establish the rights and privileges of the design professional, contractor and property owner.

    Chapter 2 Definitions. Chapter 2 is the repository of the definitions of terms used in the body of the code. Codes are technical documents and every word, term and punctuation mark can impact the meaning of the code text and the intended results. The code often uses terms that have a unique meaning in the code and the code meaning can differ substantially from the ordinarily understood meaning of the term as used outside of the code.

    The terms defined in Chapter 2 are deemed to be of prime importance in establishing the meaning and intent of the code text that uses the terms. The user of the code should be familiar with and consult this chapter because the definitions are essential to the correct interpretation of the code and because the user may not be aware that a term is defined.

    Chapter 3 General Regulations. Chapter 3 contains broadly applicable requirements related to appliance location and installation, appliance and systems access, protection of structural elements and clearances to combustibles, among others. This chapter also covers combustion air provisions for gas-fired appliances.

    Chapter 4 Gas Piping Installations. Chapter 4 covers the allowable materials for gas piping systems and the sizing and installation of such systems. It also covers pressure regulators, appliance connections and overpressure protection devices. Gas piping systems are sized to supply the maximum demand while maintaining the supply pressure necessary for safe operation of the appliances served.

    Chapter 5 Chimneys and Vents. Chapter 5 regulates the design, construction, installation, maintenance, repair and approval of chimneys, vents, venting systems and their connections to gas-fired appliances. Properly designed chimneys, vents and venting systems are necessary to conduct to the outdoors the flue gases produced by the combustion of fuels in appliances. The provisions of this chapter are intended to minimize the hazards associated with high temperatures and potentially toxic and corrosive combustion gases. This chapter addresses all of the factory-built and site-built chimneys, vents and venting systems used to vent all types and categories of appliances. It also addresses direct-vent appliances, integral vent appliances, side-wall mechanically vented appliances and exhaust hoods that convey the combustion byproducts from cooking and other process appliances.

    Chapter 6 Specific Appliances. Chapter 6 addresses specific appliances that the code intends to regulate. Each main section applies to a unique type of gas-fired appliance and specifies the product standards to which the appliance must be listed. The general requirements found in the previous Chapters 1 through 5 also apply and the sections in Chapter 6 add the special requirements that are specific to each type of appliance.

    Chapter 7 Gaseous Hydrogen Systems. Chapter 7 is specific to gaseous hydrogen generation, storage, distribution and utilization systems, appliances and equipment. Note that hydrogen is not within the definition of “Fuel gas,” but it is, nonetheless, commonly used as a fuel for fuel-cell power generation and fuel-cell powered motor vehicles. The scope of Chapter 7 is not limited to any particular use of hydrogen (see Sections 633 and 635). Hydrogen systems have unique potential hazards because of the specific gravity of the gas, its chemical effect on materials and the fact that it is not odorized.

    Chapter 8 Referenced Standards. Chapter 8 lists all of the product and installation standards and codes that are referenced throughout Chapters 1 through 7. As stated in Section 102.8, these standards and codes become an enforceable part of the code (to the prescribed extent of the reference) as if printed in the body of the code. Chapter 8 provides the full title and edition year of the standards and codes in addition to the address of the promulgators and the section numbers in which the standards and codes are referenced.

    Appendix A Sizing and Capacities of Gas Piping. This appendix is informative and not part of the code. It provides design guidance, useful facts and data and multiple examples of how to apply the sizing tables and sizing methodologies of Chapter 4.

    Appendix B Sizing of Venting Systems Serving Appliances Equipped with Draft Hoods, Category I Appliances and Appliances Listed for Use with Type B Vents. This appendix is informative and not part of the code. It contains multiple examples of how to apply the vent and chimney tables and methodologies of Chapter 5.

    Appendix C Exit Terminals of Mechanical Draft and Direct-vent Venting Systems. This appendix is informative and not part of the code. It consists of a figure and notes that visually depict code requirements from Chapter 5 for vent terminals with respect to the openings found in building exterior walls.

    Appendix D Recommended Procedure for Safety Inspection of an Existing Appliance Installation. This appendix is informative and not part of the code. It provides recommended procedures for testing and inspecting an appliance installation to determine if the installation is operating safely and if the appliance is in a safe condition.