NFPA 704: Standard System for the Identification of the Hazards of
Materials for Emergency Response
Abstract: This standard addresses the health, flammability, instability,
and related hazards that are presented by short-term, acute exposure to
a material under conditions of fire, spill, or similar emergencies.
This standard provides a simple, readily recognized and easily understood
system of markings that provides a general idea of the hazards of a material
and the severity of these hazards as they relate to emergency response.
The objectives of the system are:
(a) To provide an appropriate signal or alert and on-the-spot information
to safeguard the lives of both public and private emergency response personnel;
(b) To assist in planning for effective fire and emergency control operations,
(c) To assist all designated personnel, engineers, plant and safety
personnel in evaluating hazards.
It is recognized that local conditions will have a bearing on evaluation
of hazards; therefore, discussion shall be kept in general terms.
This standard is applicable to industrial, commercial, and institutional
facilities that manufacture, process, use, or store hazardous materials.
This standard is not intended to address:
(a) Occupational exposure;
(b) Explosive and blasting agents, including commercial explosive material
as defined in NFPA 495, Explosive Materials Code;
(c) Chemicals whose only hazard is one of chronic health hazards;
(d) Teratogens, mutagens, oncogens, etiologic agents, and other similar
This system is intended to provide basic information to fire fighting,
emergency, and other personnel, enabling them to easily decide whether to
evacuate the area or to commence emergency control procedures. It is also
intended to provide them with information to assist in selecting fire-fighting
tactics and emergency procedures.
This system identifies the hazards of a material in terms of three principal
categories: "health," "flammability," and "instability."
The system indicates the degree of severity by a numerical rating that ranges
from four (4), indicating severe hazard, to zero (0), indicating minimal
For more information, contact:
The NFPA Library at (617) 984-7445 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org