Hazardous Location Services

Meeting the needs of end users and EPC's requiring expertise in Hazardous Area Classification.

Vince Rowe P. ENG Work History 

  • Graduated from University of Manitoba in 1960 – BSC Electrical Engineering , Power Option
  • 1960 – 1963 Plant Engineer, Manitoba Hydro Great Falls Generating Station
  • 1963-1965 Generating Stations Maintenance Engineer Manitoba Hydro Winnipeg Office (Hydro and Thermal Stations)
  • 1965-1967 Plant Electrical Engineer –International Minerals and Chemicals Potash Mine and Refinery Esterhazy, Sask.
  • 1967-1969 Plant Electrical Engineer – Federation Chemicals Ammonia Plant in Trinidad
  • 1969-1973 Plant Electrical Engineer Allan Potash Mines, Allan Sask.
  • 1973-1974 Supervising Electrical Engineer , International Minerals and Chemicals, Thompson Manitoba
  • 1974-1994 Shell Canada Limited – various positions within Shell – Head Electrical Engineer at retirement
  • 1994-1995 Engineering Consultant – As Chairman of the Hazardous Locations Section 18 of the Canadian Electrical Code, led the initiative to modify Section 18 to introduce IEC Hazardous Locations Technology
  • 1995 -2000 Partner at Ramco Electrical Consulting Ltd.
  • 2000 to 2003 Freelance Engineering Consultant
  • 2003 to Present Electrical Engineer and Partner, Marex Canada Ltd.
  • Over the early years in my career I gained experience with industrial electrical systems at voltages up to 220kV.  When I joined Shell Canada I continued to my industrial experience related to medium and high voltage distribution systems and Industrial distribution systems.  However as Shell was planning to develop tar sands projects I also got involved in equipment and wiring for hazardous locations. It was clear that the mandated equipment and wiring methods were considerably more expensive than they needed to be, however, as the cost were driven by mandatory codes and standards, it was clear that it would be necessary to become involved in these codes and standards if we were to be effective in reducing Shell’s costs for their hazardous locations electrical systems.

My initial efforts were working in concert with Esso electrical staff on a CSA standard for electrical cable for use in hazardous locations (Standard c22.2 No. 174). Prior to the 1984 edition of the Canadian Electrical Code (CEC), cable was not allowed in Class I hazardous locations.  The conduit and wiring systems that were allowed were expensive and difficult to modify. We were successful in getting “cable approved for hazardous locations” into the 1982 CEC and in getting a standard for hazardous location cable approved in 2004. The 2004 edition required cable approved for hazardous locations for Divisions 1 and 2.

The next step was the development of a CSA standard for non-armored (tray) cable. Shell and Esso asked for (and worked on), a CSA tray cable standard.  Tray cable had been allowed in Class I, Division 2 in the NEC for some years. While the cable manufacturers opposed it, we were able to get the standard approved in 1988. (I chaired the standard committee)  The 1990 edition of the CEC allowed the use of tray cable in Class I, Division 2 hazardous locations. I had become a member of the Section 18 committee prior to the 1990 edition of the code.

I was appointed vice chair of Section 18 prior to the 1994 edition of the CEC and was appointed chair in late 1994. (The previous chair had waited until after the 1994 code was finalized to step down (June 1993), in order to have his name in the 1994 edition. We added to the types of cable allowed in Class I, Division 2 by allowing type ACWU (armored) cable and armored instrumentation cable. The important distinction was that other armored cables in Class I, Division 2 did not have to be approved to the Hazardous Location cable standard.

By this time I was leading the initiative to introduce the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) “Zone” method of classifying Class I hazardous locations. The North American Hazardous Location equipment manufacturers (with the exception of Killark) did not want us to be able to use equipment designed to IEC standards, and they fought hard to prevent us adding the IEC method of area classification and equipment design, but we were successful in adding it to Section 18 of the 1998 CEC. The initial Zone definitions were confined to Class I and were a hybrid of the IEC and old CEC definitions until the 2006 edition when they were modified to eliminate the old descriptive CEC wording. Non-armored instrument cables were allowed for Class I, Zone 2 hazardous locations.

The 2009 definition of the CEC was modified to make it clear that any armored cables with a non-metallic jacket could be used in Class I, Zone 2 locations. There were only minor changes to section 18 in the 2012 edition of the CEC. There was one remaining part of the adoption of IEC techniques in Section 18 which was the conversion of Class II (dust) and Class III (fibers and flyings) to Zones 20, 21 and 22. As I was no longer in a position to travel for the numerous meetings required to implement the necessary changes, I stepped down as chair of section 18 but I remained a member of the committee.  The 2015 edition removed the three classes from section 18 leaving a classification of Zones 0, 1 and 2 for flammable gases and vapors and Zones 20,21 and 22 for Dusts and fibers and flyings.

The 2018 edition of the CEC has now been finalized and a major change to area classification has been adopted as follows:

18-004 Classification of hazardous locations (see Appendices B, J, and L)

(1) Hazardous locations shall be classified according to the nature of the hazard, as


(a) explosive gas atmospheres; or

(b) explosive dust atmospheres

(2) Hazardous location classification shall be carried out and documented by

qualified persons.

(3) The hazardous location classification required by Subrule (2) shall be

authenticated by the person assuming responsibility for the classification.

(4) Notwithstanding Subrules (2) and (3), installations within the Scope of Section

20 shall be permitted to be classified in accordance with Section 20.

The new area classification requirements are further explained in an appendix B note as follows:

Rule 18-004(2)

If a hazard assessment determines that an area is a hazardous location, an area

classification would be performed. Due to the nature of hazardous locations and the

risk of fire and explosions associated with them, involvement by various individuals

who understand the relevance and significance of the properties of the hazardous

materials outlined in Subrule (1), are knowledgeable in the appropriate classification

standards / guidelines, and who are familiar with the process and equipment, is

essential to ensure that appropriate measures are taken to mitigate the hazard. For a

small or simple facility this may be a single discipline, whereas for a large or complex

facility, this may involve more than one discipline such as electrical, mechanical,

process, safety, and operations specialists.

 Documentation is an essential element in area classifications, and may include items

such as drawings, studies and calculations, reports and operating descriptions. This

documentation should be maintained and updated over the life of the facility.

Appendix L contains more details on area classification guidelines.

I continue to serve as a member of the section 18 committee.

The CEC Rule requiring area classification be done by “qualified persons” should cause companies doing area classification to rethink their approach to area classification. While we have often been asked to assist consultants in classifying hazardous facilities I think we can expect this to increase as a result of the new Rules.  One of the current problems with inexperienced individuals doing area classification is that most tend to use reference documents such as API RP505 as if they are codes.  The method we use of starting from basic principles with the focus of meeting the Zone definitions eliminates a lot of the issues we have seen.

Vince Rowe