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Designing a robust gas control system is paramount for ensuring safety in science laboratories. From preventing gas leaks to facilitating quick emergency shutdowns, implementing best practices is essential. In this guide, we’ll delve into the key considerations and strategies for designing effective gas control systems tailored for science laboratory environments.

Understanding the Importance:

Gas control systems play a critical role in maintaining safety standards within science laboratories. The presence of various gases and volatile substances poses inherent risks, making it imperative to have comprehensive control mechanisms in place. By integrating advanced technologies and adhering to industry standards, laboratories can mitigate potential hazards and safeguard personnel and assets.

Key Components of Gas Control Systems:

  1. Utility Controllers: Canadian Gas Safety offers state-of-the-art utility controllers designed specifically for science laboratories. These controllers provide centralized management of gas distribution through keyed authority operation.
  2. Emergency Gas Shutdown: Incorporating emergency gas shutdown systems is essential for rapidly isolating gas supplies during hazardous situations. These systems feature gas solenoid valves that automatically shut off gas flow in emergencies, preventing accidents and minimizing damage.
  3. Natural Gas Leak Detection: Early detection of gas leaks is crucial for averting potential disasters. Utilizing gas leak detection technologies, such as those offered by Canadian Gas Safety, ensures prompt identification of gas leaks, allowing for swift intervention and shutting down the use of gas until resolved.
  4. Automatic Time-Out Feature: For added protection, implementing automatic time-out features is recommended. These features deactivate gas supplies during non-operational hours, reducing the risk of leaks and unauthorized usage.
  5. Gas Pressure Proving Technology: Canadian Gas Safety’s original gas pressure proving technology ensures the integrity of gas systems by verifying the absence of leaks at gas taps and appliances. This proactive approach enhances safety and minimizes the likelihood of gas-related incidents

What The Codes State:

NFPA 101 Life Safety Code 2012 Edition.

4.1.1* Fire. A goal of this code is to provide an environment for the occupants that is reasonably safe from fire by the following means:
(1)* Protection of occupants not intimate with the initial fire development
(2) Improvement of the survivability of occupants intimate with the initial fire development

4.2.3 System Effectiveness. Systems utilized to achieve the goals of section 4.1 shall be effective in mitigating the hazard or condition for which they are being used, shall be reliable, shall be maintained to the level at which they were designed to operate, and shall remain operational.

4.5.1 Multiple Safeguards. The design of every building or structure intended for human occupancy shall be such that reliance for safety to life does not depend solely on any single safeguard. An additional safeguard(s) shall be provided for life safety in case any single safeguard is ineffective due to inappropriate human actions or system failure. For the purpose of this code, a complete fire alarm system shall provide functions for the initiation, notification and control, which shall perform as follows:
(1) The initiation function provides the input signal to the system.
(2) The notification function is the means by which the system advises that human action is required in response to a particular condition.
(3) The control function provides outputs to control building equipment to enhance protection of life.

9.6.6 Location of Controls. Operator controls, alarm indicators, and manual communications capability shall be installed at a convenient location acceptable to the authority having jurisdiction.

NFPA 45 – Standard on Fire Protection For Laboratories Using Chemicals, 2011 Edition

6.6 Fire Prevention

6.6.1 Fire prevention procedures. Fire prevention procedures shall be established.

6.6.3* Emergency Plans Plans for laboratory emergencies shall be developed, which shall include the following:
(1) Alarm activation
(2) Evacuation and building re-entry procedures
(3) Shutdown procedures or applicable emergency operations for equipment, processes, ventilation devices, and enclosures
(4) Fire fighting operations
(5)* Non-fire hazards
(6) Information as required by the AHJ to allow the emergency responders to develop response tactics

7.1 Explosion Hazard Protection

7.12 Protection shall be provided by one or more of the following:
(4) Remote control of equipment to minimize personnel exposure

12 Laboratory Operations and Apparatus. Unattended or automatic laboratory operations involving hazardous chemicals shall be provided with regular surveillance for abnormal conditions. (see and Unattended operations shall be provided with over-ride control and automatic shutdown to prevent systems failure that can result in fire explosion. Operating controls shall be accessible under normal and emergency conditions.

NFPA 54 – National Fuel Gas Code

5.12 Shutoff Valves. Shutoff valves shall be approved and shall be selected giving consideration to pressure drop, service involved, emergency use, and reliability of operation. Shutoff valves of 1 in. (25mm) National Pipe Thread and smaller shall be listed. Shutoff Valves for Laboratories. Each laboratory space containing two or more gas outlets installed on tables, benches, or in hoods in educational, research, commercial, and industrial occupancies shall have a single shutoff valve through which all such gas outlets are supplied. The shutoff valve shall be accessible, located within the laboratory or adjacent to the laboratory’s egress door, and identified.

NSTA – Electricity P34

“Manual shut-off switches should be located so that the teacher can easily access them and shut off the electricity, gas or water in different zones when not needed for science activities”

“Emergency shut-off controls for electrical or gas service should be highly visible, clearly labeled, and available to the teacher, but not easily accessible to the students. They are normally located near the teacher’s station and not far from the hallway exit, but not immediately adjacent to the hall door. The placement should be such so that the students are not able to hit the switch as they exit the class each period causing repetitive problems.”

NSTA Heat Sources P34

“The clearly labeled emergency gas shut-off valve should be activated by pushing a highly visible button, with a keyed reset mechanism to turn the gas supply back on when the emergency is over. The keyed reset feature can also be used by the teacher to shut off the gas when it is not needed in lieu of the control valve mentioned above. Models that have red shut off buttons recessed into a metal frame minimize the possibility of an inadvertent shutoff. All emergency controls in the laboratory / classroom should be in a location that is readily accessible by the teacher, but not easily reached by students.”

NSTA Utilities P63

Designing Facilities for the Middle School (6-8)

“If central gas is used, it should be located at the perimeter, near the sinks. The room should have a button-activated emergency shut-off valve.”

“Place emergency shut-off controls for electrical service, and gas near the teacher’s station, not far from the door, and not too easily accessible to students.”

NSTA Utilities P81

Designing Facilities for the High School (9-12)

“When gas is provided by a central system, an emergency shut-off valve, activated by pushing a highly visible visible button, will be needed. A central control valve can enable the teacher to shut off the gas in the room when not in use. Emergency shut-off controls for electrical service and gas should be near the teacher’s station, not far from the door, and not easily accessible to students.”

IMC 2021: 409.6 Shutoff valve for laboratories.
Where provided with two or more fuel gas outlets, including table-, bench- and hood-mounted outlets, each laboratory space in educational, research, commercial and industrial occupancies shall be provided with a single dedicated shutoff valve through which all such gas outlets shall be supplied. The dedicated shutoff valve shall be readily accessible, located within the laboratory space served, located adjacent to the egress door from the space and shall be identified by approved signage stating “Gas Shutoff.”

[F] 907.2.3 Group E.
A manual fire alarm system that initiates the occupant notification signal utilizing an emergency voice/alarm communication system meeting the requirements of Section 907.5.2.2 and installed in accordance with Section 907.6 shall be installed in Group E occupancies. When automatic sprinkler systems or smoke detectors are installed, such systems or detectors shall be connected to the building fire alarm system.

404.3.1 Fire evacuation plans.
Fire evacuation plans shall include the following:
2. Procedures for employees who must remain to operate critical equipment before evacuating.
6. The preferred and any alternative means of notifying occupants of a fire or emergency.

Best Practices for Design:

  • Ensure compliance with industry regulations and standards, such as NFPA, NSTA & IMC to uphold safety protocols.
  • Opt for integrated gas control solutions from reputable providers like American Gas Safety to ensure reliability and performance.
  • Regularly inspect, test, and maintain gas control systems to address any issues promptly and uphold operational efficiency.


Designing gas control systems for science laboratories requires careful planning and adherence to best practices. By prioritizing safety, integrating advanced technologies, and partnering with trusted providers like Canadian Gas Safety, laboratories can create environments that prioritize personnel safety and asset protection.

With Canadian Gas Safety’s science laboratory utility controllers and comprehensive gas control solutions, laboratories can achieve optimal safety and operational efficiency.