Page: Last modified: 2024-02-15
Code Reference(s):
NFC20 Div.B (first printing)
NFC20 Div.B (first printing)
NFC20 Div.B (first printing)
NFC20 Div.B (first printing)
NFC20 Div.B (first printing)
Storage Tanks
Reference to CSA B139:19 Series without Capacity Restriction
This proposed change removes the capacity restriction on aboveground storage tanks from the reference to CSA B139 Series, “Installation code for oil-burning equipment.”
This change could potentially affect the following topic areas:


The National Fire Code of Canada (NFC) 2020 currently references the 2019 edition of CSA B139 Series, "Installation code for oil-burning equipment." However, the NFC limits the application of the standard to individual aboveground storage tanks that have a maximum individual capacity of 2 500 L and a maximum aggregate capacity of 5000 L (based on a previous edition of the standard). For aboveground storage tanks having an individual capacity of greater than 2 500 L and aggregate capacity of more than 5 000 L, Part 4 of Division B of the NFC would apply.

This tank capacity restriction requires owners, engineers and contractors to rely on the NFC for specifications on larger aboveground storage tank installations. But, CSA B139 Series:19, the most current edition, contains more comprehensive and specific requirements for such applications than the NFC does.

Furthermore, there is much confusion among regulators, consultants, stakeholders and building owners with regard to which Code or standard (and which edition) applies. Various jurisdictions across the country have varied ways of regulating storage tanks by applying the NFC or different editions of CSA B139 Series.

As of May 2020, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba (which covers about 67% of the Canadian population) had adopted CSA B139 Series:15 for large tanks installed inside buildings. The status of adoption is unknown for Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Yukon; however, the rest of the provinces and territories (PTs) have adopted the NFC, as illustrated in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Regulatory authority (NFC, CSA B139 Series:15 or unknown) for storage tanks with an individual capacity greater than 2 500 L by percentage of the Canadian population in 2020

It is worth noting that neither British Columbia nor Alberta actively uses CSA B139 Series. Moreover, British Columbia does not enforce Part 4 of the NFC, which is used on a voluntary basis. In Alberta, Part 4 of the NFC has been adopted for oil-burning equipment, but the use and installation of this type of equipment are largely unregulated. Installations tend to be approved and installed as part of a larger building design, with very little regulatory oversight. PTs may adopt the NFC and CSA B139 Series through separate statutes or government departments, potentially presenting regulatory conflicts without an understanding of precedence (i.e., which edition of a standard applies, which Code or standard applies).

Some jurisdictions only adopt the NFC, and some fire officials either use little guidance from the NFC or use CSA B139 Series without regulatory authority. The regulatory conflict is quite evident for tank systems used by federal departments and on federal lands. Most federal departments use the NFC directly or as referenced in other legislation. Some federal departments have also adopted CSA B139 Series without harmonization with the NFC.

It would be beneficial to provide consistent, harmonized requirements for aboveground storage tanks across Canada.


CSA B139 Series has been a recognized standard for the installation of oil-burning equipment since 1956. Until 2015, the standard primarily addressed heating oil systems for domestic use. In 2015, the standard underwent a major overhaul to include tanks greater than 2 500 L. CSAB139 Series:15 standard was divided into the following sections:

  • General requirements for large installations
  • General requirements for stationary engines
  • General requirements for special installations
  • Installation code for oil-burning equipment for residential and small commercial buildings

On May 13, 2020, representatives of the CSA B139 Technical Committee compared the CSA B139  requirements with those of the NFC. The presentation concluded that there were no major differences or conflicts that would present additional risk to personal safety or structures. CSA B139 Series offers more options for individual and aggregate tank capacity but with increased levels of protection, commensurate with increased liquid volumes. The presentation included a summary of harmony and variance between the NFC and CSA B139 Series, as well as unique requirements contained in the standard.

Results of the comparison are as follows. Of a total of 256 requirements,

  • 170 requirements are the same
  • 22 requirements are not applicable to CSA B139 Series because the NFC item only applies to flammable liquids (Class I), which is outside the scope of CSA B139 Series
  • 27 requirements are in agreement, based on the reasonable interpretation that the CSA B139 Series requirement is equivalent to the NFC requirement
  • 5 are permitted by the NFC but not by CSA B139 Series, are duplicates, or are general statements that cannot be demonstrated.
  • 32 requirements in CSA B139 Series do not comply with those of the NFC.

Note that the above requirements include CSA B139 Series requirements related to the same or similar NFC requirements. They do not include additional CSA B139 Series requirements unique to the standard, to which the NFC does not have a similar requirement.

An explanation of CSA B139 Series differences from the NFC follows:

  • Many are related to operations, such as the removal of combustibles for fire prevention and protection, emergency response plan, drainage/removal of liquid from the secondary containment, leak detection, etc.
  • Some are related to oil clean-up when a spill occurs and removal of contaminated soil (possible cross-over with environmental legislation).
  • Some requirements are related to the termination location of a tank’s normal and emergency vents.
  • A number of differences are related to leak detection commissioning and periodic testing of underground and aboveground tanks and associated piping. CSA B139 Series does not include ongoing monitoring of aboveground piping.

Note that there is no change required for the requirements in the NFC 2020 that are not addressed by the CSA B139 Series listed above; the Code requirements prevail.

CSA B139 Series was developed to address the specific requirements of the application. The specificity is found in system requirements such as for auxiliary tanks, control valves, return lines, and appliance exhaust installation. Incremental requirements found in CSA B139 Series are primarily developed for systems inside buildings.

In 2022, the variances between the NFC and the standard were reviewed. No major differences in requirements between the two documents were concluded to exist that would present a safety concern. As a result of this analysis, the CSA Technical Committee is also endeavouring to make minor changes to CSA B139 Series to address the minor conflicts identified.

Without the restriction on tank capacity, referencing CSA B139 Series for appropriate technical guidance would reduce the possibility of incorrectly installed systems that could lead to failures, environmental pollution, fires and explosions.



[1] 1)Except as provided in Sentences (2) and (3), this Part applies to the storage, handling, use and processing of
[a] a)flammable liquids and combustible liquids in buildings, structures and open areas,
[b] b)water-miscible liquid mixtures classified as flammable liquids or combustible liquids in conformance with Article in buildings, structures and open areas, and
[c] c)dangerous goods classified as flammable gases at fuel-dispensing stations.
(See Note A- CHANGE A-
[2] 2)Areas in process plants, where conditions must be addressed by design and operational details specific to the hazard, need not conform to this Part, where alternative protection is provided in conformance with Article of Division A. (See Note A- CHANGE A-
[3] 3)This Part shall not apply to
[a] a)the transportation of flammable liquids or combustible liquids under TC SOR/2001-286, "Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations (TDGR)",
[b] b)except as provided in Sentence (4)-2025, appliances and their ancillary equipment within the scope of CSA B139 Series, "Installation code for oil-burning equipment", except for aboveground storage tanks with an individual capacity exceeding 2 500 L(see Note A- CHANGE A-,
[c] c)except as provided in Sentence (54), the storage of flammable liquids or combustible liquids on farms for individual farm use, or
[d] d)the storage of aerosol products covered under Subsection 3.2.5.
[4] --)The appliances and ancillary equipment referred to in Clause (3)(b) shall comply with the applicable operational requirements of this Part.
[5] 4)The storage of flammable liquids or combustible liquids on farms for individual farm use shall be in conformance with Section 4.12.
[6] 5)In addition to the requirements in this Part, the storage, handling and use of flammable liquids and combustible liquids in laboratories shall be in conformance with Section 5.5.
[7] 6)Unless otherwise specified, this Section shall apply to all areas involved in the storage, handling or use of flammable liquids and combustible liquids covered in this Part.

Note A-

Ancillary equipment covered in CSA B139 Series, "Installation code for oil-burning equipment", includes storage tanks and piping that supply oil-burning equipment, diesel-engine-driven emergency generators and fire pumps. Part 4 of the NFC does not generally apply to such tanks and piping systems.
However, the operational requirements contained in Part 4, which are not included in CSA B139 Series, are applicable to appliances and ancillary equipment within the scope of this standard. Examples of such operational requirements include keeping storage tanks free of vegetation, performing liquid inventory reconciliation, providing tank vehicle access to storage tanks, and providing safe storage of oily rags.


[1] 1)Except as provided in Article, storage tanks located inside buildings shall conform to Subsections 4.3.13. to 4.3.15. and be permitted in
[a] a)industrial occupancies, and
[b] b)occupancies other than industrial occupancies where combustible liquids are stored and used as fuel for oil-burning equipment, emergency generators and fire pumps.

[] Quantities and Location

[1] 1)Except as provided in Subsection 4.2.8. and in Sentence (2), storage tanks for flammable liquids or combustible liquids shall be
[a] a)located in dedicated storage rooms conforming to Subsection 4.3.14., and
[b] b)located in conformance with Tables and (see Note A- CHANGE A-
Table []
Indoor Tank Storage in Industrial Occupancies
Forming Part of Sentences [][1] 1) and ([2] 2), and
Class of Liquid Storage Level Maximum Quantity per Storage RoomPROPOSED CHANGE Table Footnote (1), L
One or More Tanks
Protected StoragePROPOSED CHANGE Table Footnote (2) Unprotected Storage
Class I First storey 40 000 25 000
Storeys above the first storey 7 500 Not permitted
Basement Not permitted Not permitted
Classes II and IIIA First storey 200 000 100 000
Storeys above the first storey 20 000 Not permitted
Basement 20 000 Not permitted
Table []
Indoor Tank Storage in Occupancies Using Oil-Burning Equipment, Emergency Generators and Fire Pumps
Forming Part of Sentences [][1] 1) and and (2)
Class of Liquid Storage Level Quantity per Protected Storage RoomPROPOSED CHANGE Table Footnote (1), L
Individual Tank Aggregate
Classes II and IIIA First storeyPROPOSED CHANGE Table Footnote (2) > 2 500PROPOSED CHANGE Table Footnote (3) 200 000
> 20 000PROPOSED CHANGE Table Footnote (4)
Basement and storeys above the first storey > 2 500PROPOSED CHANGE Table Footnote (3) 20 000
> 20 000PROPOSED CHANGE Table Footnote (4) 45 000
[2] 2)When quantities greater than those permitted for incidental use in Subsection 4.2.8. are required for special process operations, storage tanks for flammable liquids or combustible liquids are permitted to be located outside of a storage room referred to in Sentence (1), provided that
[a] a)total quantities per fire compartment are not more than one-half the quantities permitted in Table,
[b] b)they are located on the first storey, and
[c] c)the installation conforms to Articles to

Note A-

Table deals with storage tanks that are outside the scope of CSA B139 Series, "Installation code for oil-burning equipment" (which limits the capacity of individual storage tanks to 2 500 L and their aggregate capacity to 5 000 L) and harmonizes requirements for all occupancies using oil-burning equipment, emergency generators and fire pumps.

[] Tank Construction

[1] 1)Storage tanks with an individual capacity exceeding 2 500 L but not exceeding 20 000 L that are used in conformance with Table shall be
[a] a)of double-walled construction in conformance with Clause or a minimum of 300 deg. secondarily contained construction, and
[b] b)monitored for leakage in conformance with Sentence
[2] 2)Storage tanks with an individual capacity exceeding 20 000 L that are used in conformance with Table shall
[a] a)conform to Clause, and
[b] b)be monitored for leakage in conformance with Sentence

[] Systems

[1] 1)Piping systems serving oil-burning equipment, diesel-engine-driven emergency generators and fire pumps shall conform to CSA B139 Series, "Installation code for oil-burning equipment".

Impact analysis

Although CSA B139 Series has much more specific guidance on the installation of oil-burning equipment (especially for inside building application) than the NFC does, compliance with CSA B139 Series instead of the Part 4 of NFC is not more expensive. In most cases, companies responsible for the design and installation of oil-burning equipment are qualified and use the same industry standards that led to the development of CSA B139 Series. In practice, the NFC is not used to design and install these systems.

However, the NFC requirements were extensively used in the development of the 2015 edition of CSA B139 Series. There are many commonalities in the two documents, such as the recognition of technical standards for storage tanks, piping, leak detection, overfill prevention, and sump construction and setbacks. At least the 2015 edition of CSA B139 has been adopted by authorities having jurisdiction that represent 67% of the Canadian population. Referencing the most current edition of CSA B139 Series in the NFC without tank capacity restriction would simplify the enforcement of the Code and eliminate potential confusion for the industry and authorities having jurisdiction.

This proposed change clarifies the application of the NFC and the referenced standard for regulators and Code users to eliminate potential confusion in practice. Specific requirements in CSA B139 Series provide clarification for all stakeholders, as follows:

  • for installers, the standard provides more details and clear guidance on the installation, and
  • for regulators, the standard provides more specifications for compliance.

No training for Code users is anticipated to be required since the industry and regulators are already familiar with the requirements in the NFC and CSA B139 Series, and apply the requirements during equipment installation.

Enforcement implications

This proposed change can be enforced by the infrastructure currently available to enforce the Code.

Who is affected

Regulators, engineers, building owners, contractors, fire services, and storage tank manufacturers.


[] ([1] 1) no attributions
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[] ([3] 3) ([a] a), ([b] b), ([d] d)
[] ([3] 3) ([c] c)
[] -- ([4] --) ([b] b),
[] ([5] 4) no attributions
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[] ([7] 6) no attributions
[] ([1] 1) [F01,F02-OS1.1]
[] ([1] 1) [F01,F02-OP1.1]
[] ([1] 1) ([a] a)
[] ([1] 1) ([b] b)[F01-OS1.1][F02-OS1.2]
[] ([1] 1) ([b] b)[F01-OP1.1][F02-OP1.2]
[] ([1] 1) ([a] a)
[] ([2] 2) ([c] c)
[] ([2] 2) no attributions
[] ([1] 1) ([a] a)[F01,F20,F43,F80,F81-OS1.1]
[] ([1] 1) ([a] a)[F01,F20,F43,F80,F81-OP1.1]
[] ([1] 1) ([b] b)[F01,F43,F82-OS1.1]
[] ([1] 1) ([b] b)[F01,F43,F82-OP1.1]
[] ([1] 1) ([b] b)
[] ([1] 1) ([b] b)[F20,F43,F80,F81-OH5]
[] ([2] 2) ([a] a)
[] ([2] 2) ([b] b)[F01,F43,F82-OS1.1]
[] ([2] 2) ([b] b)[F01,F43,F82-OP1.1]
[] ([2] 2) ([b] b)
[] ([2] 2) ([b] b)[F20,F43,F80,F81-OH5]
[] ([1] 1) [F01-OS1.1]
[] ([1] 1) [F01-OP1.1]
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