Every few years, the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) releases reports on the different kinds of fires that started in the United States over a given period of time. In the last four years, there were over 37,000 fires at industrial facilities to the tune of almost $1.2 billion in actual property damage, and at the cost of 16 lives and nearly 300 people injured.
Industrial fires are serious business – and anyone dealing with an industrial business needs to take fire safety seriously. Today, we’re going to talk about some of the different kinds of fires you’ll commonly encounter in an industrial facility and discuss some of the ways you can prevent them. Let’s jump right in!
In most industrial settings, combustible dust is a common thing you’ll have to deal with. Even when particles and materials aren’t considered flammable, they can be combustible when mixed in with other elements in a specific concentration.
When these particles explode- they first cause particles to become airborne and then the cloud from the dust can create a secondary explosion that’s even worse than the first one. Given the right conditions, combustible dust explosions can level an entire facility.
Preventing these fires is a considerable priority for most industrial businesses and having a hazardous dust inspection, ongoing testing, and cleaning program is a must. Never leave dust residues out in the open and clean them up whenever you can using the proper collection systems. And above all else, make sure there’s no smoking, open flames, or sparks of any kind.
Liquid and Gas Fires
The most common kind of fire in chemical plants is flammable liquid and gas fires. They can ignite from a whole bunch of sources and sparks – and can be particularly difficult to contain if you don’t have the proper equipment.
Every industrial business should be aware of the hazards that each flammable liquid and gas present to a business. Make sure employees read and follow the information provided in safety data sheets and manuals and make sure any materials are stored according to OSHA regulations. The other important piece is to make sure all personnel are wearing proper PPE (personal protective equipment) like gloves, bodysuits, goggles, and the like. And of course – keep any sort of ignition sources well clear of any area where flammable liquids and gases are being used.
Industrial facilities take a real building. Heavy machinery is roaring, equipment is banging away, production lines are whirring and your employees are always on the move. As such, it can be easy for things like wires to become exposed or not perform up to code. Outlets can be overloaded, there can be circuit overloads and even static discharge. And even worse – a spark from an electrical source can cause the ignition of combustible dust and flammable liquids and gas.
Staying safe from electrical fires is a whole blog itself, but the key takeaways are to practice basic electrical safety like you would at home. That includes things like not overloading circuits, not overloading outlets, not using unnecessary extension cords, and just like at home – unplug high-energy consumption assets when they’re not in use.
Employees should always follow a regular cleaning schedule and should be trained and equipped as recommended by OSHA and NFPA.
If you would like more information on this or any other fire protection topics, please contact Protegis Fire & Safety.