Fill Station Operators do not have to be trained
FACT: The truth is that the
US Code of Federal Regulations, Title 49, requires "Function
Specific" training for all employees. If they fill
cylinders they need Fill Station Operator training.
In Canada the rules are even more
specific. Transport Canada regulation CSA-B340 requires that
persons filling containers be trained although it does not
specify the exact nature of that training.
FICTION: The Code of
Federal Regulations is not law.
FACT: "Law" is a broad term
that includes statute law (laws enacted by legislatures with
executive approval), administrative, or regulatory, law (law
written by agencies usually in direct support of statute law)
and common law (precedential law largely from judicial
decisions). All are enforceable in court. The Code of
Federal Regulations codifies US administrative law.
Compressed air is not a designated Hazardous Material.
FACT: Compressed air is a HAZMAT.
49CFR173.115 defines a compressed air at 40.6 psia or greater at
68ºF as a Class 2, Division 2.2 HAZMAT.
Formal training in HAZMAT is not required.
FACT: Absolutely wrong! 49CFR172.702
requires a hazmat employer to ensure that each of its hazmat
employees is provided appropriate function specific training and
to ensure that each of its hazmat employees is tested by
appropriate means. 49CFR172.704 goes on to specify what this
training must consist of. This training must be completed
within 90 days of employment or change in job function and then
every three years thereafter.
Persons who receive no compensation but who handle high pressure
cylinders are not required to have formal and documented HAZMAT
This is one of the most onerous myths of all.
49CFR171.8 defines a HAZMAT employee as one who, among other
things, is employed by a hazmat employer and who in the course
of employment directly affects hazardous materials
transportation safety. This term includes an individual,
including a self-employed individual, employed by a hazmat
employer who, during the course of employment loads, unloads, or
handles hazardous materials.
Do not confuse “employed” with “paid”. Employ
means to use, whether there is compensation involved or not.
Those divers who just hang around a dive store asking to help
and who are used by the dive store to move, load and fill
cylinders require formal and documented function specific
training just as much as do paid employees. Not conducting this
training can be very costly.
Furthermore. § 1910.101 Compressed
gases (general requirements) provides for:
(a) Inspection of compressed gas cylinders. Each employer
shall determine that compressed gas cylinders under his control
are in a safe condition to the extent that this can be
determined by visual inspection. Visual and other inspections
shall be conducted as prescribed in the Hazardous Materials
Regulations of the Department of Transportation (49CFR parts
71–179 and 14CFR103). Where those regulations are not
applicable, visual and other inspections shall be conducted in
accordance with Compressed Gas Association Pamphlets C–6, C-6.2,
C-6.2 and C6.3 which are incorporated by reference as specified
FICTION: The inspection
guidelines of Compressed Gas Association (CGA) Pamphlets C-6,
C-6.1, C-6.2, and C-6.3 are not mandatory.
FACT: 49CFR180.205 incorporates these
publications “by reference” into the CFR itself. As such, the
guidance on these publications are to be considered by US courts
as being part of the Code of Federal Regulations and treated as
if they were Federal Law.
CGA C-6 is entitled
Standards for Visual
Inspection of Steel Compressed Gas Cylinders
CGA C 6.1 is entitled
Standards for Visual
Inspection of High Pressure Aluminum Compressed Gas Cylinders
CGA C-6.2 is entitled
Guidelines for Visual
Inspection and Requalification of Fiber Reinforced High Pressure
CGA 6.3 is entitled
Guidelines for Visual
Inspection and Requalification of Low Pressure Aluminum
Compressed Gas Cylinders
FICTION: A steel cylinder
may not be authorized for a 10% excess fill after the first
FACT: The US Code of Federal Regulations
establishes the requirements for pressurizing steel cylinders
beyond their stamped service pressure. 49CFR173.302 sets forth
the requirements for pressurizing cylinders 10% in excess of its
marked service pressure. These requirements are:
1) Cylinder must be 3A or 3AA (steel)
2) Cylinder must be equipped with the
proper frangible (burst) disc.
3) Cylinder’s must have been tested or
retested using the hydrostatic water jacket method
4) Neither the average nor maximum wall
stresses exceed the limits established in the CFR
5) An external and internal visual
inspection made at the time of the test or retest shows the
cylinder to be free of excessive corrosion, pitting or dangerous
6) A plus sign “+” is added following the
test date marking.
The use of the term “test or retest” clearly
authorizes hydrostatic retest facilities to reauthorize an
appropriate cylinder for a 10% excess fill. Is this common?
No. Is it legal? Yes.
Steel cylinders do not have to be visually inspected for cracks.
FACT: Yes they do. CGA Pub. C-6 lists a
crack inspection as part of the inspection procedure – and
remember that C-6 has been “incorporated by reference” into the
A condemned cylinder must be rendered incapable of holding air
by drilling a hole in the sidewall or by destroying the neck
FACT: 49CFR180.207 prescribes the procedures
for the condemnation of cylinders. They are to be condemned by
stamping a series of “X”s over the DOT specification number and
the service pressure or by stamping “CONDEMNED” on the cylinder
shoulder. Only at the direction of the cylinder owner may
the requalifier render the cylinder incapable of holding
pressure. Additionally, the cylinder owner must be notified IN
WRITING that the cylinder is condemned and may not be filled
with a hazardous material.
Cylinders failing hydrostatic retest or
visual inspection cannot be returned to their owner without
being condemned. However, those facilities that destroy your
cylinder neck threads or drill a hole in the sidewall WITHOUT
YOUR PERMISSION are in violation of the law.
The law requires all 6351-T6 alloy aluminum cylinders to be
inspected with an eddy current tester.
FACT: 49CFR180.205 requires only that
6351 alloy cylinders in SCUBA, SCBA and oxygen service be eddy
current tested at time of hydrostatic requalification.
6351-T6 alloy aluminum is still authorized for the manufacture
of high pressure 3AL cylinders.
FACT: 49CFR178.46 is the specification for 3AL
seamless aluminum cylinders. It specifies 6061-T6 alloy only.
This DOES NOT mean that existing 6351-T6
alloy cylinders are to be pulled from service. It only means
that no new 3AL cylinders can be manufactured from this alloy.
All 6351-T6 alloy cylinders have been recalled.
FACT: This is closely related to the above
myth and is absolutely untrue. 49CFR178.46 simply no longer
authorizes 6351-T6-T6 for future manufacture on 3AL
cylinders (all new 3AL cylinders must be manufactured using
6061-T6 alloy). 6351-T6 cylinders in use may be used so long as
they remain within established hydrostatic testing and visual
inspection standards for continued service. Postulating this
myth to customers is unethical.
No special training is required to visually inspect the Luxfer
fiber wrapped (FRP2) SCUBA cylinder E12479
FACT: DOT Special Permit SP-12479 specifically
requires that the cylinder be given an annual visual inspection
by a Professional Scuba Inspectors, Inc. (PSI) certified person.
An external visual inspection of a cylinder is not required
FACT: 49CFR173.301 requires that before each
cylinder filling the person filling it must visually inspect the
outside of the cylinder for cracks, leaks, bulges, defective
valve, leaking or defective burst disc, evidence of physical
abuse, fire or heat damage, and detrimental corrosion. Any such
cylinder may not be filled.
Failure of the Fill Station Operator (FSO) to
conduct this routine informal visual inspection may have a
highly memorable consequence.
Paintball and Spare Air cylinders do not require hydrostatic
though paintball and Spare Air cylinders are filled by the
cylinder owner, they still require periodic requalification.
49CFR180.205 requires that each cylinder bearing a DOT
specification marking be requalified (hydrostatically retested)
as specified in the Requalification Table of section 180 of the
CFR. Cylinders bearing a DOT Special Permit number (SPxxxxx) must be
requalified in conformance the terms of the applicable
There is an
exception. 49CFR180.209 Table 1 exempts cylinders
not exceeding 2 inches outside diameter
AND less than 2 feet in length from periodic volumetric
expansion tests. If either dimension exceeds the limit a
periodic requalification is required. Paintball cylinders and
most Spare Air cylinders usually exceed at least one of these
Steel cylinders with a marked service pressure of 2400 psig are
low pressure cylinders
FACT: Nothing could be further from the
truth. CGA Pub C-6 defines a high pressure steel cylinder as
one containing pressures of 900 psig or greater – and don’t
forget that CGA Pub C-6 has been “incorporated by reference”
into the CFR.
Strangely, the high pressure definition for
aluminum cylinders is different. CGA C-6.1 defines a high
pressure aluminum cylinder as one containing pressures of 1800
psig or greater.
Aluminum cylinders manufactured prior to 1990 are no good.
To tell a customer this boders on fraud. The only place where
the US DOT has established a terminal use date for cylinders are
in the various Special Permits for the fiber wrapped cylinders. The
terminal date for wrapped cylinders is usually 15 years, but
some Carbon Fiber wrapped cylinders are now authorized a 30 year
life. 3A, 3AA and 3AL cylinders, even 6351 alloy aluminum
cylinders, are authorized for continued
service as long as they are within established hydrostatic test
and visual inspection standards.
Cylinders are hydrostatically tested to 5/3 of their stamped
FACT: While this is generally true, cylinders
containing a stamped test Pressure (TP) are to be tested to the
specified test pressure. Usually, but not always, this is 3/2
service pressure rather than 5/3.
A cylinder exposed to excessive heat must be condemned.
FACT: While simple exposure to high heat may
require a cylinder to be pulled from service for further
examination, it does not condemn a cylinder. Condemnation
requires some portion of the cylinder itself to be heated to the
49CFR 180.203 defines overheating as
a condition in which
the temperature of any portion of an aluminum cylinder
has reached 176 °C (350 °F) or higher, or in which the
temperature of any portion of a steel or nickel cylinder has
reached 343 °C (650 °F) or higher. The various Special
governing fiber wrapped cylinders specify overheating as when
any portion of the aluminum liner reached a temperature of 250
The Code of Federal Regulations does not apply to me because I
am not in interstate commerce
FACT: In establishing the applicability of
the CFR, 49CFR171.1 uses the term “in commerce” which has been
misinterpreted by many as meaning in commercial and interstate
commerce. If we read the CFR further, however, we find in
49CFR171.8 that it defines “commerce” more broadly as meaning
“trade or transportation in the jurisdiction of the
United States within a single state; between a place in a state
and a place outside of the state; or that affects trade or
transportation between a place in a state and place outside of
the state” (Emphasis mine).
Do you use state and federal roads and
highways to transport your Division 2.2 Hazmat (compressed air)
to/from a dive site or an emergency? If so, the code applies to
The Exemption or Special Permit number on a cylinder is the
authorization to manufacture cylinders and has nothing to do
with the longevity of the cylinder.
FACT: In order for an E or SP cylinder
to remain in service its Special Permit (as of 1 Jan 2006 the
terminology has again changed and Exemptions are again called
Special Permits) must be current. That means it must be in
effect. Requalifiers are required by DOT to have on hand
the "current" Special Permit of the cylinder being requalified.
If the Special Permit has expired it cannot be current.
Hence the cylinder is no longer authorized for service.
when in need of a requalification, may be requalified by either
a DOT or a TC authorized requalifier and then be filled and
transported in both the United States and Canada.
FACT: While a cylinder manufactured to
DOT/TC standards may be used and transported in both Canada and
the United States, when the cylinder receives its periodic
hydrostatic test requalification its usability may be limited.
To be filed and transported in the United States it MUST be
requalified by a USDOT authorized requalifier. To be
filled and transported in Canada it MUST be requalified by a TC
There is no authority for SCUBA cylinders to have an
annual visual inspection. This is
just a standard of practice in the SCUBA industry
FACT: In CGA Pub P-5 Paragraph 6.1 the Compressed Gas
Association requires all cylinders in SCUBA service to be
visually inspected annually.
All UN cylinders may be used to transport hazardous material in the United States
FACT: To be transport hazardous material
in the United States UN cylinders must bear the additional
marking of USA or CAN (alternatively, US or CA).
All Aluminum cylinders manufactured prior to 1990 must be eddy
FACT: Using the date 1990 is the lazy
and inaccurate method of determining cylinder alloy.
49CFR180.209 requires only
cylinders manufactured of 6351 alloy to be eddy current tested.
Not all cylinders manufactured prior to 1990 meet this
criterion. NO Catalina cylinder is made from this
alloy regardless of its date of manufacture. ALL Walter
Kidde cylinders were made from this alloy. Only
SOME Luxfer cylinders were made from this alloy.
For SCUBA. SCBA and Oxygen cylinders Luxfer phased a changeover in alloys from 6351 to 6061 over
an thirteen month period from May 1987 through June 1988 and
based it on cylinder size.
To ascertain the specific alloy
for Luxfer cylinders you need to refer to the Luxfer Technical
Bulletin dated November 12, 2003. Here
is a link to the Luxfer document.
The usability of the
PSI Evidence of Inspection sticker expires.
FACT: Unlike other EOI stickers which
show the year of the visual as the last two digits in the
century (00-99), the PSI-PCI sticker shows the year of the
inspection as the last single digit in the decade (0-9).
Determining the decade of the inspection is really not
significantly more difficult than determining the century of the
inspection. If there is confusion as to the decade, a simple
look at the hydro date should help. You NEVER have to replace
your sticker inventory because you passed the highest two digit
date on the sticker.