Research found that United States fire departments responded to an approximate average of 1,450 warehouse structure fires yearly, excluding cold or refrigerated storage. The fires resulted in an annual average of $283 million in property damages, 16 injuries and two civilian deaths. Electrical hazards, hot work, machinery and equipment, flammable gasses and liquids, and combustible dust may cause warehouse and factory fires.
Understanding these fire causes allows you to prepare adequately to prevent the fires before they occur. This article outlines nine ways to prevent fire in warehouses and factories.
1. Invest in fire extinguishers
Fire extinguishers are essential for any fire protection plan. They’re the first line of defense and usually extinguish or contain a fire, averting costly damage. However, no one extinguisher can handle each fire. And since different fire extinguisher types have varying fire categories they’re effective for, selection can be stressful.
The right fire extinguisher should be suitable for the right fire class. Water fire extinguishers are primarily for class A fires, the film-forming foam type can be used on both class A and B fires, and carbon dioxide fire extinguishers can be used on class B and C fires.
Halogenated agent fire extinguishers can be used for class A, B, and C fires. Wet chemical extinguishers will protect against class K and A fires. Buy dry powder fire extinguishers for class D fires. Schedule regular fire extinguisher maintenance to keep the equipment in optimal working condition and ready for use in an emergency. Refer to NFPA 10 to learn the rules for storing fire extinguishers.
2. Conduct fire risk assessments
Warehouses and factories are always susceptible to fire hazards, so caution is crucial to prevent life and property loss. Incorporating periodic fire risk assessments and fire extinguisher training into warehouse and factory fire safety plans can help avoid potential fire hazards. They involve identifying and pinpointing fire hazards, determining possible fire hazard sources, and identifying the safety systems best suited for warehouses and factories.
Review your fire risk assessment yearly to ascertain that the proper safety measures stay in place and to spot new fire hazards. This may include reviewing the existing fire prevention measures, how well a fire can be suppressed, the escape routes, how well you can communicate with those in the factory/ warehouse in case of a fire, and the staff’s fire awareness and training level.
3. Organize fire safety training
Since factories and warehouses have some fire risk levels, ensuring your employees understand that risk is essential for fire prevention. This is fire safety education, and training comes in.
The training equips your staff with skills like identifying fire hazards, completing fire risk assessments, taking measures to prevent fires, and learning how to respond to emergencies. Fire safety training and education teach employees how to avoid fires, significantly improving workplace safety.
4. Store flammable materials safely
Storing warehouse and factory flammables safely is crucial for reducing fire risk. Familiarizing yourself with hazardous material handling and storage rules and regulations is key to improving safety. Flammables shouldn’t be kept near electrical and heating equipment or near exits. They should be stored in separate, properly-ventilated storage areas away from possible ignition sources.
Portable storage containers are ideal for flammable liquids and should be authorized to store portable amounts. They’re usually made of plastic or metal, are vapor-proof, and consist of flame or spark arrestors and welded seams. The containers should be well-labeled. If flammable liquid containers aren’t in use, they should be kept in safe storage cabinets.
5. Schedule regular electrical inspections
Regular electrical inspections can help catch potential hazards and code violations that may result in electrical fires. While an electrical inspection may be costly upfront, it’s a worthy investment for protecting your property and employees. Getting your electrical equipment checked and tested regularly ensures electrical safety.
Electrical inspection professionals usually assess your warehouse or factory’s electrical system for exposed electrical wires, overloaded circuits, frayed wires, and other possible hazards or code violations.
To prevent fire risk, competent professionals should inspect and test electrical equipment and components, including switches, sockets, electrical wiring, fuses, circuit breakers, electrical appliances, and portable electrical equipment.
6. Ensure proper waste management
Busy warehouses and factories generate significant waste and rubbish, which can contribute to a fire. The trash may contain combustible materials and should thus be kept away from unmonitored heat sources or open flames to reduce fire risk.
Develop an effective waste management plan and invest in the right equipment. Create a proper in-house waste storage and sorting plan and implement the reduce, reuse, and recycle approach. While you can dispose of waste yourself, renting a dumpster can help ascertain proper disposal.
7. Organize regular machinery and equipment maintenance
Machinery and equipment are major causes of warehouse and factory fires. Electrical and lighting equipment, shop tools, and heating and cooking equipment may start the fires. Improperly installed furnaces and other electrical equipment, like heavy industrial presses, can be a fire hazard.
Things with moving parts and friction or machinery that utilizes hot oils, such as hydraulic fluids, and any equipment that may malfunction or create a spark can be a potential fire risk. Routine equipment and machine maintenance, excellent housekeeping practices, and awareness creation can help prevent these fires.
8. Restrict smoking
Smoking in factories and warehouses is a fire hazard and should be prohibited. Use signage throughout the premises to inform everyone that smoking isn’t allowed. You may also construct an external smoking zone using non-flammable materials to ensure smokers have a dedicated area for smoking and disposing of their cigarettes. This can help prevent or reduce the risk of smoking-related fires.
9. Install fire detection systems
Detecting a fire early enough is vital and helps protect and save lives and property. Installing a fire detection system can substantially optimize fire control efforts and lower damages. It’s also fundamental for your fire prevention plan.
Early fire detection warns you and helps you respond faster to avert costly damages. You can install smoke detectors, fire alarms, and other fire detection tools.
Warehouse and factory fires may cause extensive property damage and loss of life. Use these tips to prevent fire and increase factory and warehouse safety.