Vol. 1, Issue 19 (Mar 03) Thoughts on Fire!

We can all help prevent the spread of fire in the workplace, by the understanding of what is needed to produce a fire in the first place.

Should a fire break-out we can control the spread of fire by the removal of one of the elements of fire.

For a fire to start, three elements are necessary: -

  • FUEL Combustible materials that can either be a solid, liquid or gas.
  • HEAT Sufficient heat to raise the temperature of the fuel to a point where it vaporises and ignites.
  • AIR To provide oxygen to support the combustion process.

This is described as the ‘triangle of fire’

We can prevent a fire from occurring by keeping these elements apart. Should a fire start we can extinguish it by removing one of them and breaking the ‘triangle of fire’.

FUEL is removed by starving.
Remove the fuel source, close window, remove oxygen tanks or cylinders, paper, wood etc

HEAT is removed by cooling.
Fire extinguisher, hose reel etc.

AIR is removed by smothering.
Fire extinguisher, hose reel etc.

Fire Prevention.

Being aware of common causes of fire in the workplace and introduction of simple and effective routines for checking for dangers at any time can help.

Particular care is to be taken when leaving at the end of the working day this will reduce the risk of fires occurring.

The following inventory list gives common causes of fire, it is not meant. intended to be exhaustive. Things you found in your workplace should be added to your list.

Faulty electrical wiring, plugs, sockets and overload protection devices and circuits that are not suitably protected.

Electrical equipment left on when not in use, unless it has been specifically designed for that purpose.

Cooking and other comparable activities, poorly maintained and cleaned cookers, ventilation grilles, ducts and fans.

Poorly maintained and cleaned work equipment, this includes heating and air conditioning plant.

Smoking and careless disposal of smoking cigarettes materials.

Obstruction of ventilation grilles on various work equipment, leading to overheating.

Carelessness by contractors and other employed maintenance workers, lack of control of employed contractors.

Gathering of rubbish and waste products and other combustible materials.

Portable heaters not being used properly.

Overstocking and careless storage of flammable materials and substances.

Your workplace should have a fire routine, advising you and others what to do in the event of a fire. All should be familiar with the requirements of this fire routine.

To assist in the understanding and what the routines require and to be able to familiarise themselves with the means of escape, the fire drills, evacuation and practise, needs to be completed regularly.

Everyone located in the workplace should practice the fire drills and the fire routines and learn from those lessons and mistakes that can occur during the routine operation. It is very important that all members of staff, at whatever level and where appropriate other visitors or occupants give their full support at any time the practice is initiated.

Regular checks should include and not be limited to: -

Checking fire routine notices and exit signs are in place, are clear and are not damaged or defaced.
Checking fire exits and exit routes are clear and immediately available.
Checking fire doors are closed properly and are un-obstructed.
Checking fire extinguishers are in place and that they are not damaged or have been discharged and that they have been inspected within the required maintenance period.

If a fire breaks out

Make sure that the evacuation is completed orderly and calmly from the area.
Complete a room by room and / or floor by floor check of the workplace on the way out of the building, and closing, but not locking doors and windows where it safe and possible to do so.
Close down or shut off hazardous processes.
Where a fire has been discovered in your area, make sure the alarm has been sounded and the fire services called.
Report to the person in charge at the agreed assembly point, giving details of all persons accounted for and any persons not accounted for, following the safe evacuation.

Only tackle the fire if it is safe to do so.

We are able to provide safety seminars on fire awareness and training at the workplace.

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Wednesday, June 10th, 2009 news