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December 21, 2010

OSFM alert to Illinois fire departments: Labels on professional dry cleaning machines possibly altered
Mislabeling could lead to increased fire danger

CHICAGO – The Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal (OSFM) is informing fire departments throughout Illinois that it has received complaints regarding professional dry cleaning equipment that could potentially affect property and life safety.

Specifically, complaints received by the OSFM indicate that the listing labels affixed to some dry cleaning machines may have been altered to identify the machines as being listed for use with Class III (combustible) solvents, when in fact the machines are listed for only Class IV (noncombustible) solvents.

“These alterations can produce a dangerous situation to property or life safety because owners are under the mistaken belief that their machines are safe for use with flammable or combustible cleaning solvents,” said State Fire Marshal Larry Matkaitis.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 32 “Standard for Dry Cleaning Plants” governs dry cleaning machines and solvents used in dry cleaning machines. Local authorities may have this standard adopted by reference through your adoption of the NFPA 1 Fire Code or one of the ICC/BOCA Fire Prevention Codes. NFPA 32 requires all dry cleaning machines to be listed. It defines four different classifications for solvents: Class I through IV.  Classes I through III solvents have varying levels of flash points and are either flammable or combustible solvents as defined in the standard.  Class IV solvents are neither flammable nor combustible. 

Class I, II and III cleaning solvents should only be used in dry cleaning machines that are legitimately tested, listed and labeled for use with these classes of solvents and never in machinery that has been listed only for use with Class IV solvents.

Therefore, the OSFM is advising local fire authorities to have owners of dry cleaning machines contact the independent third-party organization that listed the equipment to verify that it is properly labeled to reflect the Class of solvent that should be used. OSFM also alerted the Illinois Attorney General’s office of the possibility that labels had been altered.

For more information about fire safety and prevention, please visit www.state.il.us/osfm or www.nfpa.org.


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