3 keys to prevent fires from spreading

by on January 19, 2012 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: Workplace Safety Network

Most workplace fires are contained quickly, for one of two reasons: The company had its act together, or it got lucky.

You don’t want to rely on luck. To make sure your work area’s protected against spreading fires, inspect for the following:

  1. Identify equipment and materials that can ignite. Last November, a DOE facility suffered severe damage when an infrared heater shot out some sparks. A subsequent DOE investigation of other facilities found almost every work area contained at least one area where flammable chemicals were stored next to combustible materials.
  2. Look for materials that can spread a fire. In the DOE case, the infrared heater’s sparks should have fallen harmlessly to the concrete floor. But there was a pallet of flammable absorbent pads nearby. They ignited, spreading the fire to cardboard boxes containing protective clothing. Then groundskeeping equipment not far away lit up. By the time the fire was over, smoke and flames caused $200,000 worth of damage.Note: Not all flammables are obvious. During its subsequent inspections, DOE identified a
    5-gallon plastic container of mercury as a fire hazard because plastic can spread fire.
  3. Watch for damaged controls. Check that fire doors, firewalls, catch basins and the like remain in good condition. That way, they’ll work as designed in an emergency. In a separate fire cited by DOE, burning chemicals flowed as designed into a concrete catch basin. But the basin had cracks in it, and the fire spread to two nearby warehouses.

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