Introduction Fires ravage 28,000 industrial facilities each year, causing $596 million in direct property damage. Ninety percent of these fires can be attributed to human errors. Fires can be prevented with an awareness of the hazards and safe work practices. These include: good housekeeping practices, proper procedures when handling flammable material, what to do if a fire breaks out, and the proper use of fire extinguishers.
The Elements of Fire A fire needs three elements to exist: oxygen, heat and fuel. Fuel is anything that will burn when exposed to heat. It can be a solid, liquid or gas. Fuel sources include paper, wood, oil, grease, chemicals, and flammable liquids. The leading heat sources that could cause these fuel sources to burn include electricity, cigarettes, cutting and welding, sparks from tools, and friction.To prevent a fire from occurring, you need to eliminate any of the elements needed for a fire to exist.
The Elements of Fire Good house keeping can help you to separate the heat sources from fuel sources. This is done by keeping waste to a minimum, equipment well maintained, and storage areas organized. A poorly kept facility increases the chances for a fire and allows a fire to quickly get out of hand. Keep all equipment and tools well maintained. Deposits of oil, pitch, and wood dust on tools or machinery can catch on fire by sparks. Loose or work moving parts that rub against each other can create enough heat to cause flammable material to burn.
Flammable Liquids Flammable liquids are used so often in the work environment that they are often taken for granted. Liquids, themselves, do not burn, but they form vapors that do burn.
Flammable Liquids Flashpoint is the lowest temperature at which the vapor from combustible liquid can be made to ignite. The lower the flashpoint, the more dangerous the liquid. Flammable Range is the volume of vapor needed in the air for a fire to start if it needs a heat source. It is measured in percentages. Spontaneous Combustion occurs when a flammable liquid catches on fire without an outside heat source, such as a spark or a cigarette. The temperature at which this occurs is called the Ignition Temperature.
Flammable Liquids Storing & Transferring Flammable Liquids Since flammable liquids are easily ignited and burn rapidly, they must be stored in isolated areas. This is usually away from the main building in an outdoors location or under a roof with few walls. A one-story non-combustible building can also be used. Small amounts of flammable liquids can be stored in safety cabinets. Flammable liquids at the work site should be kept to a minimum. Proper ground systems must be used when storing and transferring flammable liquids to prevent static electricity from igniting flammable material.
Flammable Liquids Storing & Transferring Flammable Liquids A bonding wire must be fastened to the drum and safety can to provide a path for the electricity. Flammable liquids must be manually transferred into safety can. Spring-load lids assure that they automatically close after filling or pouring. A flame arrester is a wire mesh screen inside the safety can that dissipates flames and heat.This prevents the flames from reaching the vapors inside the can.
Fire Extinguishers Fire extinguishers are classified according the type of fire they are effective against. The type of fuel that a fire is composed of determines it classification. Class A Fires Class A fires are composed of dry combustibles like paper, wood, and plastics . Class A extinguishers contain water to remove the heat from the fire. Class A fires form embers that continue to smolder in the fire is not totally extinguished. The burned material must be moved away from the building after the fire is extinguished.
Fire Extinguishers Class B Fires Class B fires are usually fueled by grease, oil, paint, or flammable liquids. Class B extinguishers contain dry chemicals, carbon dioxide, or other agents. Dry chemical shoots out a powdery cloud that smothers fire. Carbon dioxide eliminates the oxygen element of the fire.
Fire Extinguishers Class C Fires Class C fires are electrical. An extinguisher is rated for class C fires if it contains an agent that is nonconductive.
Fire Extinguishers Class D Fires Class D extinguishers are used on exotic metals such as magnesium, sodium, and potassium. No other fire extinguisher is effective against these combustible metal fires. Using an extinguisher that is not properly rated for the fire could actually spread the fire and make it worse. Extinguishers with multiple classifications life the ABC extinguisher eliminate your chances of choosing the wrong extinguisher because they are effective for Class A,B, and C fires, and fries that have more than one fuel involved.
Fire Extinguishers Using Fire Extinguishers When using a fire extinguisher remember the acronym P.A.S.S. • Pull the pin. • Aim low, at the base of the fire. • Squeeze the handle to release the extinguisher agent. • Sweep from side to side to keep the fire from spreading.
Fire Extinguishers Using Fire Extinguishers Remember that fire extinguishers have a limited range and limited amount of extinguishing agent. They are effective against small fires nut should not be used in any of the following situations: • You have not been properly trained to use the fire extinguisher. • The fire spreads beyond its immediate area. • The fire could block your escape route.
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