OmegaFlex: Lightning Protection Institute Ignores Science and Lightning Codes

Recent press release expresses concern over bonding of metal gas piping that is required by codes and previously supported by LPI

US Home Structure Fires 2009-2013 Leading Causes * (Graphic: Business Wire)

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EXTON, Pa.--()--In a recent press release, the Lightning Protection Institute cautioned its member contractors to take liability precautions when installing lightning protections systems in homes with corrugated stainless steel tubing. LPI stated that “the efficacy of [CSST] bonding practices hasn’t been verified.” However, that statement by LPI contradicts its prior statements and one of the basic principles of lightning protection – bonding of metallic systems to the electrical ground will mitigate arcing and attendant damage.

In August of 2008, the Lightning Protection Institute issued an LPI Tech Letter on the new changes to the National Fuel Gas Code (NFPA 54). The 2009 version of NFPA 54 required that if a “lightning protection system is installed for a structure, metallic gas piping shall be bonded to the lightning protection grounding system.” At the time, LPI noted with approval that this change and other changes in NFPA standard “clarify language with regard to lightning protections systems, which has helped to highlight the importance of equipotential bonding . . .”

Furthermore, LPI’s recent press release ignores a key principle of lightning protection, which is the equipotential bonding of metal systems inside a building to side flashes. That principle is evidenced in the lightning protection code, “Standard for the Installation of Lightning Protection Systems.”1 Sections 4.14 and 4.16 of that code specifically require that metal systems, including gas piping, must be bonded to the lightning protection system.

LPI also ignores recent work performed by the corrugated stainless steel tubing (CSST) industry working with the Fire Protection Research Foundation and Gas Technology Institute (GTI). GTI and its vendors conducted independent experiments at a leading lightning laboratory to conclusively prove that bonding of gas piping systems, including CSST systems, would suppress transient arcing caused by a near-by lightning strike. The GTI study concluded that the “connection of a 6AWG copper direct bonding conductor between the CSST and earth ground diverts sufficient energy to prevent perforation over a wide range of conditions.”2

Finally, in the recent LPI press release, there is a statement that calls for statistical information about lightning fires involving CSST. That statement also ignores the current existing information published by the NFPA3 that clearly shows that the number of lightning fires to residential homes in the United States is about 1% of the total of all residential fires, and that fires caused by lightning in which natural gas or propane are the materials first ignited are about 0.06% of all residential fires. It should be noted that those lightning/gas fires also include rigid pipe systems as well as CSST systems. It is clear from existing data that the threat of lightning damage to a CSST system and fires, while a serious issue, is not a significant major fire threat in the United States (see chart above regarding the leading causes of US home structure fires).

The CSST industry has not waited for regulatory mandates, but has taken the initiative to develop a new generation of conductive-jacket CSST products that provide an additional measure of safety against damage from electrical arcing caused by lightning. These products have been proven to be able to withstand damage from electrical arcing caused by lightning by an order of magnitude compared to the original CSST designs. We invite you to learn more by going to our website www.tracpipe.com to learn more about our lightning resistant CSST, CounterStrike® - the best CSST on the market today.

About CSST

CSST was initially developed during the early 1980s as a safe and effective gas distribution system that can withstand damage that can occur during earthquakes and other natural disasters. The comprehensive CSST system consists of flexible pipe between the building gas source and appliances. The flexibility of the tube allows it to be routed throughout the building in continuous lengths without the many joints required with rigid piping, and without the need for any special tools. Corrugated stainless steel tubing now commands slightly over one-half of the market for fuel gas piping in new and remodeled residential construction in the United States, and the use of rigid iron pipe, and to a lesser degree copper tube, accounts for the remainder of the market.

For more information about CSST, visit www.tracpipe.com.

About TracPipe CounterStrike

TracPipe CounterStrike is designed to be more resistant to damage from transient electrical arcing than conventional gas piping materials. In a lightning strike, the electrical energy of the lightning can energize all electrical and mechanical components in a building. This electrical energy in attempting to reach ground may arc between systems that have different electrical potential, and arcing can cause damage to any of these systems. TracPipe CounterStrike CSST is designed with an electrically conductive jacket to dissipate this energy, protecting the gas carrying stainless steel core. In 2007, TracPipe CounterStrike was tested to be six times more resistant to damage from electrical arcing than the original TracPipe CounterStrike version, and between 50 to 400 times more effective than traditional competitive CSST products.

About OmegaFlex

Established in 1975, Omega Flex, Inc. (NASDAQ:OFLX) is the pre-eminent international producer of flexible metallic piping products. With more than 90 patents registered worldwide, OmegaFlex supplies proprietary products for a broad number of applications and markets, which include primary steel production, semi-conductor, medical, pharmaceutical, petrochemical, residential and commercial construction, and power generation.

OmegaFlex®, TracPipe® and CounterStrike® are registered trademarks of OmegaFlex®. All rights reserved

1 National Fire Protection Association, “Standard for the Installation of Lightning Protection Systems,” (NFPA 780, 2017 ed.)

2 Gas Technology Institute, “Validation of Installation Methods for CSST Gas Piping to Mitigate Indirect Lightning Related Damage,” Issued September 5, 2013, Revised October 12, 2015

3 National Fire Protection Association, “Structure Fires Started by Lightning,” Jennifer Flynn, April 2017

Contacts

For OmegaFlex, Inc.
Ron Low or Lindsay Andrews, 415-618-8750

Contacts

For OmegaFlex, Inc.
Ron Low or Lindsay Andrews, 415-618-8750