Each year fires in the workplace cause deaths and injuries, as well as extensive damage to property. On-the-job fires are often the result of not following instructions, using or judgment or not following fire safety rules.
This program contains information on fire prevention. Read it carefully and follow the suggestions you'll find here. They'll help you do your part to prevent on-the-job fires.
What causes fires?
The first step in preventing fires is knowing what causes them.
Gasoline, solvents and naphtha are extremely dangerous. If you must use them:
• Store them only in approved safety cans or storage cabinets. Be sure they are labeled.
• Keep them in areas that are well-ventilated.
• Store them away from heat or sparks.
• Clean up spills right away.
• Never smoke or light a match when you're near flammable liquids or handling them.
• Oily rags must be stored in a covered metal container with a self-closing cover.
• Spontaneous ignition happens when heat builds up in piles of trash, damp waste or oily rags.
Electrical Fire Hazards:
Faulty electrical wiring is a common fire hazard. Loose wiring, overloaded circuits and overheated electric motors are dangerous. Here's how you can prevent electrical fires:
• Check tools, equipment, extension cords and plugs for worn spots and exposed wires.
• Keep switch boxes clean and closed.
• Don't try to use broken power tools or equipment. Report them to your supervisor.
• Don't attempt to repair broken power tools or equipment unless you're a trained and experienced repair technician.
More fire causes:
Some fires are started deliberately. If you see someone or something suspicious, report it to your supervisor.
• Careless smoking can cause fires. Smoke only in areas where smoking is allowed.
• Use butt cans and ashtrays for cigarettes and matches.
• Get a hot-work permit before you use heating tools or appliances, such as welding torches.
• To prevent falling sparks and hot metal from causing a fire, sweep off wood floors and cover them with metal or other non-combustible material.
• Clear the area of anything that could ignite. Surround the area with fire-retardant curtains if they're available.
• When welding is going on, make sure a fire spotter is standing by with a fire extinguisher.
• In some cases, the fire watch may need to continue for up to 30 minutes after the job has been finished.
• Turn off and unplug appliances such as soldering irons and coffee pots when your workday is over.
Friction produces sparks which can cause fires. To avoid them:
• Watch for sparks from metal-to-metal or metal-to-concrete contact. Use brass or plastic containers and tools when you work with flammable materials.
• Check belt drives and conveyors for rubbing, high stress or tautness that can produce sparks.
• Oil motor bearings frequently to cut down on friction and overheating.
Static electricity is a constant danger when transferring flammable or combustible liquids. Surface vapors can ignite when flammable liquids flow from one container to another.
• Use brass or plastic containers when you transfer flammable liquids.
• Make sure containers for flammable liquids are grounded and bonded to prevent static electricity from causing a spark.
Be safety conscious and watch for anything that might start a fire. Here's how you can prevent fires:
• Do you use approved storage confiners that are properly grounded to prevent static electricity?
• Do you move flammables carefully, and only in approved containers?
• Is your work area free of drips and spills?
• Do you follow the rules for disposing of containers and wastes?
• Is the equipment and machinery you use thoroughly inspected at regular intervals?
• Do you check fire-fighting equipment regularly to make sure it will work if you need it?
• Is your work area neat and uncluttered, free of flammable and ignitable materials?
• Are you careful how you handle and store combustible materials?
• Do you deposit oily rags in safety cans?
• Do you smoke only in designated areas?
Follow Fire Safety Rules:
• Do you stay out of prohibited areas?
• Do you avoid fire risks and take time to do your job right?
You're responsible for reporting unsafe conditions. Watch for and report these hazards:
• Spills of flammable liquids.
• Overloaded circuits.
• Faulty connections.
• Frayed, exposed wires.
• Poor ventilation.
• Dirty tools, equipment and machinery.
• Messy trash areas.
• Oily rags that are not covered.
• Clogged flues and pipes.
• Broken fire-fighting equipment.
• No ashtrays.
You can remedy some unsafe conditions if you:
• Clean equipment, tools and machinery.
• Repair any equipment you're qualified to fix.
• Prevent machinery from overheating.
• Keep items that are flammable or combustible away from flames and hot surfaces.
• Repair or replace leaking tanks, pipes and gas lines.
• Put oily rags in covered containers.
• Wipe up spills.
• Remove doorstops or wedges used under fire doors. Report broken fire doors or exits that are blocked or locked.
• Don't let materials pile in corridors, stairwells and exit lanes.
• Don't use portable space heaters indoors.
• Keep flammable materials away from incompatibles, such as acids. Don't store flammable gases near oxygen tanks.
Practice good housekeeping:
Make it a part of your work routine to clean up as you go.
• Do you put trash in the proper container?
• Is the floor clear of spills, trash, ravings and filings?
• Are storage areas clean, with bins stacked in an orderly way?
• Are walkways and exits free of obstructions?
• Is electric equipment inspected and protected?
• Are your tools and equipment clean and well-cared for?
• Is your clothing and personal protective equipment clean and in good shape?
• Is fire-fighting equipment in good working order, located nearby and ready to use?
In case of fire:
Sometimes, no matter how careful you are, fires can happen. When a fire breaks out:
Report it !:
If you detect smoke or a fire:
• Warn your coworkers.
• Close any fire doors.
• Report the fire immediately, no matter what size it is. The longer you wait, the more dangerous the fire can be to you and your coworkers. Follow your employer's fire emergency notification policy.
• Stay calm, and evacuate the area or building. Go to your pre-designated evacuation location. Wait for orders from your supervisor or the fire fighters.
• When fire fighters arrive, direct them to the fire area. Warn them of any special hazards you know about.
• Familiarize yourself with the fire emergency procedures for your facility before a fire. Ask your supervisor about your company's fire plan and how it applies to your department.
If a fire is small, you may try to fight it after you report it. To fight a small fire:
• Use the right fire extinguisher. Refer to the chart on page 11.
• Break the seal and remove the pin from the fire extinguisher.
• Stay 8 to 10 feet from the fire.
• Press the lever and aim the fire extinguisher nozzle or horn at the base of the flames. Sweep the base of the fire.
• Continue with a steady stream, not short bursts.
• Don't try to use a fire extinguisher unless you've been trained in which one to use and how to use it.
If the fire is large and out of control, escape may be your best choice:
• Move quickly, but don't panic.
• Don't use elevators. You could get trapped inside if the power fails. Take the stairs instead.
• Use the evacuation plan for your work area.
• Head for the designated fire exit.
• Use a secondary exit if the first is blocked.
• Close doors behind you as you go.
Fire extinguishers are your first line of defense in case of a fire:
• Know the location of the closest fire extinguisher.
• Don't try use a fire extinguisher unless you've been trained.
• Learn which fire extinguisher to use on what kind of fire.
• Most fire extinguishers are rated for more than one kind of fire.
Other Fire Equipment:
Find out where other emergency equipment is located, such as:
• First aid kit.
• Fire blanket.
• Respiratory protection.
Class of Extinguisher Kind of Fire Contains
Class A Wood, paper, cloth, cardboard and most ordinary combustibles water
Class B Flammable liquids, such as oil, solvents, greases and gases Dry chemicals, carbon dioxide or halogenated agents, to smother the fire with foam
Class C Energized electrical equipment, such as electrical boxes, panels, transformers, etc. Never use water on this kind of fire, because water conducts electricity and causes the fire to spread Dry chemicals, carbon dioxide or halogenated agents, to smother the fire with foam
Class D Combustible metals Special liquid or dry powder agent
Fire safety tips:
Use this checklist to make sure your workplace is safe from fire:
• Is your work area neat and uncluttered, free of trash?
• Is wiring safely insulated and grounded?
• Are flammable liquids stored safely in approved containers?
• Do you keep combustibles away from heat and sparks?
• Do you wipe us spills promptly?
• Do you keep tools, equipment and machinery clean and in good repair?
• Do you smoke only in designated areas, and always use ashtrays?
• Are the right extinguishers available?
• Are exits and passageways clear and unobstructed?
• Do you know the right evacuation procedure and the closest exit?
It's your responsibility to keep yourself, your coworkers and your work area safe from fire. Your job and your life may depend on it!