The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), Lauderdale Marine Center (LMC) and National Fire Protection Committee on Spray Finishing have drafted and approved a new standard that reduces fire risks for spray-painting large objects, including yachts, inside temporary membrane enclosures.

The move towards developing a new standard started in 2010 after fire marshals in Ft Lauderdale ordered that work on a yacht at LMC be halted unless a fire official and fire-trucks stayed on site during the painting process. The fire marshals were not convinced that it was safe.

LMC, working with NMMA, developed a nationwide standard that would alleviate the concerns of fire marshals as well as insurance companies. The new standard will be published in Chapter 18 of the 2015 edition of the National Fire Protection Association’s code 33 (NFPA33). Promoting best practices across the industry, the new code is not expected to increase the costs of painting a yacht. But it will instead create straightforward guidance for the industry and local governments.

"Insurance companies are not comfortable taking the word of the marine facility on fire safety; they need guidelines," said John McKnight, vice president of government relations for NMMA in a statement. "The standard sets the bar for fire protection during paint spraying, which is critical for the yard and those who permit and insure it."

LMC last year undertook a controlled test-fire, inviting the Ft. Lauderdale Fire Department to observe. Results from the test were used to write the standard.

Jim Parks, operations manager at LMC, said the great lengths that the NFPA task force took to create the code were worth the effort. "LMC takes pride in operating in a safe manner,” Parks said in the statement. “But without consensus safety standards, good intentions do not satisfy the fire marshal and insurance companies.”