11 - Heating & Cooling

Heating and cooling applies to systems providing building heating, ventilation and air conditioning.

For boilers, steam generators and water heaters, this Fire Risk Factor only pertains to the firing side of the unit (e.g. fuel supplies, burners, and burner controls).

Black liquor recovery boilers are assessed under the Risk Factor 13 - Control of process hazards.

What do we look for?


  • The type, amount and extent of the heating and cooling equipment present and available to cause or support a fire
  • Heating and cooling systems introducing an unusual (higher or lower) degree of exposure to the occupancy compared to normal expectations.


  • Compliance with local regulation with regard to installation, periodic review and testing
  • Containment of spillage for liquid combustibles
  • Ventilation to avoid explosive atmospheres
  • Appropriate controls for heated equipment (e.g. low water cutoffs, fan pressure switches, pre-ignition purge intervals, fuel pressure switches, flame failure detectors, boiler temperature or pressure controls, etc.) interlocked with automatic fuel safety shutoff valves
  • Appropriate equipment operating procedures
  • Periodic, visual, and recorded inspections. Frequency suited to system age, equipment type, and environmental conditions. Inspections are intended to identify and manage systems with conditions such as:
    • Aged equipment
    • Signs of damage
    • Inappropriate equipment for the occupancy Inappropriate equipment location (e.g. burners close to storage, fuel sources or combustible construction)
    • Inadequate physical protection (guarding)
    • Exposures to combustibles too close to equipment
    • Accumulations of dust or oily residues
  • Annual testing of equipment controls
  • Avoiding cooling towers of combustible construction (e.g. wood or plastic components).

Risk improvement ideas

  • Assess the risk posed by heating and cooling systems by conducting a formal technical hazard analysis. Consider applying the Zurich Hazard Analysis (ZHA) or other Hazard Analysis methodology to identify the hazards, analyze the risk and implement suitable control measures.
  • Verify heating and cooling systems are designed and installed per applicable standards.
  • Verify heating and cooling systems are inspected and maintained per applicable standards by qualified technicians. Combustion controls for fuel-fired equipment should be serviced and tested annually.
  • Implement a permit program to evaluate and authorize the use, location, and arrangement of portable heating equipment.

Risk Topics

RT Template

Type: pdf (51Kb)

Cold weather preparation

Type: pdf (93Kb)

NFPA standards

  • NFPA 31 Standard for the Installation of Oil-Burning Equipment
  • NFPA 54 National Fuel Gas Code
  • NFPA 58 Liquefied Petroleum Gas Code
  • NFPA 85 Boiler and Combustion Systems Hazards Code - addresses boilers at or above 3.7 megawatts (12.5 million Btu/hr)
  • NFPA 211 Standard for Chimneys, Fireplaces, Vents, and Solid Fuel–Burning Appliances
  • NFPA 214 Standard on Water-Cooling Towers.