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NFPA 704 or the Fire Diamond

What Is NFPA 704 or the Fire Diamond?

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This is an example of a NFPA 704 warning sign.

This is an example of a NFPA 704 warning sign. The four colored quadrants of the sign indicate the types of hazards presented by a material. This is the NFPA 704 for sodium borohydride.

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You probably have seen NFPA 704 or the fire diamond on chemical containers. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in the United States uses a standard called NFPA 704 as a chemical hazard label. NFPA 704 sometimes is called a "fire diamond" because the diamond-shaped sign indicates flammability of a substance and also communicates essential information about how emergency response teams should deal with a material if there is a spill, fire or other accident.

Understanding the Fire Diamond

There are four colored sections on the diamond. Each section is labelled with a number from 0-4 to indicate the level of hazard. On this scale, 0 indicates "no hazard" while 4 means "severe hazard". The red section indicates flammability. The blue section indicates health risk. Yellow indicates reactivity or explosivity. The white is section is used to describe any special hazards.

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Hazard Symbols on NFPA 704

Symbol and NumberMeaningExample
Blue - 0Does not pose a health hazard. No precautions are necessary.water
Blue - 1Exposure may cause irritation and minor residual injury.acetone
Blue - 2Intense or continued non-chronic exposure may result in incapacitation or or residual injury.ethyl ether
Blue - 3Brief exposure may cause serious temporary or moderate residual injury.chlorine gas
Blue - 4Very brief exposure may cause death or major residual injury.sarin, carbon monoxide
Red - 0Will not burn.carbon dioxide
Red - 1Must be heated in order to ignite. Flash point exceeds 90°C or 200°Fmineral oil
Red - 2Moderate heat or relatively high ambient temperature is required for ignition. Flash point between 38°C or 100°F and 93°C or 200°Fdiesel fuel
Red - 3Liquids or solids that readily ignite at most ambient temperature conditions. Liquids have a flash point below 23°C (73°F) and boiling point at or above 38°C (100°F) or flash point between 23°C (73°F) and 38°C (100°F)gasoline
Red - 4Rapidly or completely vaporizes at normal temperature and pressure or readily disperses in air and readily burns. Flash point below 23°C (73°F)hydrogen, propane
Yellow - 0Normally stable even when exposed to fire; not reactive with water.helium
Yellow - 1Normally stable, but may become unstable elevated temperature and pressure.propene
Yellow - 2Changes violently at elevated temperature and pressure or reacts violently with water or forms explosive mixtures with water.sodium, phosphorus
Yellow - 3May detonate or undergo explosive decomposition under the action of a strong initiator or reacts explosively with water or detonates under severe shock.ammonium nitrate, chlorine trifluoride
Yellow - 4Readily undergoes explosive decomposition or detonates at normal temperature and pressure.TNT, nitroglycerine
White - OXoxidizerhydrogen peroxide, ammonium nitrate
White - WReacts with water in a dangerous or unusual way.sulfuric acid, sodium
White - SAsimple asphyxiant gasOnly: nitrogen, helium, neon, argon, krypton, xenon

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