Review of Suggestions For Preventing Fires
Industrial Fire Safety
Realizing that many of our readers are on the go night and day and do not have the time to digest all the fire protection information delivered to them, we will pick out segments of our columns printed in 1973 for their review in the hope that they will read the entire column if an excerpt pushes their interest button.
February: “Brigades Need Training for Storm Emergencies”
You should tour your entire plant site, going through all the buildings, at various times during the year to determine the areas subject to flooding. Plans should be made to channel or dike wind-driven water away from buildings. This applies especially to boiler rooms, power stations, fire pump houses, transformer installations and flammable tank areas, both below and aboveground.
Through normal weekly inspections, or daily during times of immediate danger, special items must be checked, provided, repaired, tied down, or structurally reinforced to prevent damage.
March: “Fire Pumps and Water Sources for Private Fire Protection”
In many facilities, the lack of adequate municipal water supplies for automatic sprinkler systems and fire hose lines makes private or secondary water supplies a must. A vital part of any improved distribution system is an automatic fire pump connected to either a municipal water system or water in storage on the site.
Drivers for the pump can be diesel, gasoline, or LPG internal combustion engines, steam-operated turbines or electric motors. The final choice, of course, must be based on the plant location, pump location, and source of electricity and steam.
April: “Installation of Fire Pumps to Ensure Dependability”
All pump installations in buildings should be in separate rooms of adequate size with standard cutoffs from the rest of the facility. The construction must be noncombustible and there must be adequate lighting, heat, humidity control, drainage and automatic sprinkler protection for the equipment.
Outside pump houses, we feel, should be of noncombustible construction properly sprinklered, have the other safeguards just mentioned and be secured by locked doors or a locked fence—or both.
May: “Inspect and Maintain Automatic Fire Pumps”
Automatic fire pumps cannot be neglected after they have been installed. These vital fire protection system components require welldocumented inspections and maintenance on a scheduled basis by trained personnel.
All pumps should be started weekly and operated at full rated speed.
June: “Signaling Systems for Fires and Supervisory Purposes”
A fire starts and electric bells and water motor gongs sound as a result of water flow or other detection devices. Is the signal heard? The loss records show that many times the signal will not be heard because there are neither workers nor a watchman in the plant. The alarm signal should be transmitted automatically to a receiving agency to ensure response to the fire.
Sprinkler water flow alarms are installed in sprinkler risers and operate when water flows through the system piping. This flow can be the result of a fused sprinkler head, ruptured pipe or system leak. These devices can cause prompt, automatic transmission of a trouble signal to a supervisory agency or directly to a fire department.
Sprinkler system supervisory service can also be used to report a non-fire problem, such as a closed sprinkler valve, water level deviation in a pressure or gravity tank, improper tank water temperature, low air pressure in a dry-pipe system or fire pump power failure. Other things, like industrial processes, heating units and building temperature, also can be supervised by alarm circuits.
July: “Self-Inspections Improved by Use of Printed Rx Forms”
Self-inspections of properties have long been an accepted way of life with many industries. They have learned the value of self-analysis and correcting their violations.
The inspector should take a printed form with him on his tour, record his findings and present them to a supervisor. Then, if the inspections are to be meaningful, there should be a followup—daily, weekly, or monthly—to see that the hazards are removed.
These inspections are performed by maintenance crew and fire brigade members on a rotation basis, if manpower allows it, so as to familiarize as many men as possible with plant conditions and to make use of new eyes looking into every nook and cranny.
Note: In this article we stated we would forward to all who asked, a sample inspection form and booklet. It has been a great pleasure to have sent out, so far, some 100 kits, overseas as well as here in the States.
August: “Changes in NFPA Standard for Portable Extinguishers”
National Fire Protection Association Standard No. 10, “Installation of Portable Fire Extinguishers,” was amended at the NFPA annual meeting in May. The changes should be noted in your copies of the standard until new individual pamphlets or National Fire Code Volume 8 are available so that your inspections, reports and advices to others will be correct. (Note: Volume 8 is now available.)
An added paragraph 4111 states: “Up to one-half of the complement of extinguishers as specified in Table 4110 may be replaced by uniformly spaced small hose stations for use by the occupants of the building. When hose stations are so provided they shall conform to the standard, “Standpipe and Hose Systems,” NFPA No. 14. The placement of hose stations shall be in such a manner that they do not replace more than every other extinguisher.”
Paragraph 5220 was amended to read: “Stored pressure dry chemical extinguishers (except non-refillable factory-sealed disposable containers) that require a 12-year hydrostatic test shall be emptied and subjected to the prescribed complete maintenance procedures every 6 years. Periodical recharging or hydrotesting of such extinguishers meets the requirements of this paragraph.”
By using the last sentence of 5220, you can save a lot of expense. Keep adequate records; it’s worth it.
In Table 5321, the test interval for dry chemical extinguishers with aluminum shells was increased to 12 years. We hope test data was available to the committee when this change in hydrostatic test interval for aluminum shells was changed.
September: “Fire Prevention Education Can Take Many Forms”
Americans must be, educated about fire safety. Most destructive fires are caused by the careless actions of people, largely through lack of concern and ignorance of hazards. Many fires caused by faulty equipment rather than carelessness could be prevented if people were trained to spot the faults before it’s too late. And many injuries and deaths could be prevented if people knew how to react to a fire, whatever its cause.
It will take time and some money— but more time than money. It is not difficult as the ammunition is readily available. You have the guns, now you only have to organize a schedule and present the story to the general public completely uneducated in our field.
By using materials that have been available for years, you can conduct a fire safety program in schools, both public and sectarian, that will prepare the future adults for the flammable world we live in.
October: ‘Precautions for Handling Flammable Liquids Safely”
Flammable liquids are waiting for ignition from the surrounding temperature, a spark or an outside source of applied heat. They vaporize quickly from temperatures well below freezing and higher. Therefore, they are extremely easy to ignite. As in all burning phenomena, it is the vaporized portion of a fuel that burns.
Here are some recommendations:
- Warn employees about the liquids they are using by requiring the common name—not just the trade name— to be marked on all storage drums from which safety cans will be filled.
- Mark all dispensing approved safety cans or containers with the name of the liquid contained or circle each can with a yellow warning band, as required by OSHA.
It is recommended that you read NFPA No. 30, “Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code”; NFPA No. 325A, “Flash Point Index of Trade Name Liquids”; and NFPA No. 325M, “Fire Hazard Properties of Flammable Liquids, Gases and Volatile Solids.”
November: “Strict Rules Needed to Match Dangers of Smoking in Plants”
Smoking and matches account for a substantial portion of our yearly fire losses. In industry, there is a need to remove the dangers of indiscriminate disposal of smoking materials and to establish safe smoking areas.
All areas of a premises require a complete survey by management to determine which areas must be designated as no-smoking areas and where smoking rooms or zones shall be established.
Evaluate your risks and prevent fires by removing this needless source ol ignition known as smoking materials. We know smoking can never be eliminated, but it can be controlled through sensible, enforced rules and regulations.