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Beland, Bernard and Gamache, Daniel. Heat Tapes As Causes of Fires. Fire and Arson Investigator, Vol 37, Issue 1, Pgs 38-40, September 1986.

Abstract: This article discusses heat tapes and the dangerous situations that may result from their improper use. Heat tapes are installed around pipes or other systems to prevent them from freezing. They resemble extension cords in appearance and has a central core constructed of non-combustible fibers. Resistive wire is wound over the core and the core is then covered with plastic insulation material. A metallic sheathing that acts as a ground covers this device for safety purposes.

All safety instructions should be strictly adhered to when installing heat tape. While most are constructed with non-combustible insulation, they may still ignite if placed near other combustible substances. Most heat tapes should be wrapped no closed than one turn per inch. The pipe or system should not be insulated with more than one half inch of insulation. The tape should also be located at least one inch from any combustible materials.

The article explains the results of experiments conducted on heat tapes. The tapes were tested in unsafe conditions and no fires occurred. Most tests resulted in melting and softening of the plastic insulation. The article concludes that heat tapes are safe if installed correctly.

For more information, contact:
NFPA Library at (617) 984-7445 or e-mail library@nfpa.org

 
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