The Top Industrial Fire Hazards
Fire is a potential wherever heat and volatile materials share space, making industrial sites particularly susceptible to accidents of this kind.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, fire departments across the U.S. respond to an average of 38,000 fires at industrial or manufacturing facilities each year, which kill or injure almost 300 and result in $1.2 billion in property damage annually.
Electrical distribution and lighting equipment is the leading cause, accounting for nearly a quarter of all industrial fires, but other factors also play a role. Let’s run through the top industrial fire hazards.
Top Industrial Fire Hazards
Electrical hazards occur from such things as exposed wiring, overloaded outlets or circuits, defective wiring, extension cords and static discharge. These types of fires can quickly spread if sparks become an ignition source for combustible dust or nearby flammables.
Tips to lessen the likelihood of electrical fires:
- Don’t overload electrical equipment or circuits.
- Unplug temporary equipment when not in use.
- Avoid using extension cords.
- Use antistatic equipment where required by NFPA or OSHA.
- Routinely remove combustible dust and keep other hazardous materials away from areas that contain equipment and machinery.
2. Hot work
Hot work includes welding, sawing, torch cutting and drilling—but any work involving sparks is a potential fire source. According to Occupational Health & Safety magazine, sparks and molten material reach temperatures greater than 1000 degrees and can scatter more than 35 feet.
Some of the greatest risk factors for hot work fires:
- Sparks can fall through cracks and floor openings, starting fires in hidden places.
- Ducts and conveyor systems can carry sparks to other locations.
- Pipes and other metals can conduct enough heat to ignite insulation and combustible walls, partitions, ceilings, and roofs.
Common sense and appropriate training can reduce the risk of these fires.
Make sure hot work areas are free of combustible and flammable materials and that floors are covered in nonflammable surfacing.
Train personnel on hot work hazards and have safety personnel on hand to supervise their work.
3. Combustible dust
Combustible dust is a major cause of fire at industrial sites involved in the manufacture of foods, woods, chemicals, metals and pharmaceuticals. But even materials that aren’t typical fire risks can become so when in dust form.
Combustible dust explosions aren’t easy to contain. Even a small explosion can cause additional accumulated dust to go airborne, igniting a second, larger explosion. If enough dust is present these types of explosions can bring down walls, ceilings and—worst case—entire buildings.
Regular cleanup to ensure dust doesn’t accumulate to dangerous levels is one way to minimize the potential for these types of fires. There also are fire suppression systems that can be installed in certain applications.
4. Flammable liquids and gasses
Certain gasses and liquids commonly used in industrial settings are inherently flammable and can ignite with the slightest spark, even from a small static charge.
Tips to minimize liquid and gas fires:
- Store flammable liquids in OSHA-approved containers in well-ventilated areas away from heat sources.
- Ground containers to safely discharge static electricity.
- Clean up spills immediately.
- Review the material safety data sheet for every liquid on site.
- Compressed flammable gases can ignite at temperatures below room temperature, so even a small leak can cause a fire. Inspect cylinders regularly for leaks and don’t store in temperatures over 120 degrees.
5. Equipment and machinery
Faulty equipment and machinery also are a major cause of industrial fires. This can include such things as improperly installed, operated and maintained furnaces, as well as friction created by insufficiently lubricated machinery—especially if that machinery is covered in dirt or grease, both of which will fuel fires.
Following manufacturer’s maintenance procedures and keeping machinery and their areas clean will minimize the likelihood of fire breaking out or quickly growing out of control.
Consulting with the professionals of an industrial fire suppression company can help you build and maintain safety on site, by:
- Conducting a hazard analysis of your facility of major risk areas;
- Providing employee safety training;
- Installing, inspecting and testing your industrial fire suppression system.
Top Industrial Fire Suppression Systems in Illinois, Iowa
Getz Fire Equipment Company offers state-of-the-art industrial fire suppression systems in Illinois and Iowa that our customers need to protect their businesses, staff and patrons. We supply the full scope of fire alarms and suppression systems—guaranteed to secure everything from ducts and plenums, to cooking supplies and hoods. Whether you’re interested in automatic or manual Ansul systems, our solutions offer:
- Reliable alarm activation
- Speedy detection
- Wet chemical discharge
- Fuel supply cutoff
We employ more than 120 skilled specialists, and work side-by-side with our clients to fulfill their needs and ensure they’re meeting local, state and national codes with their industrial fire suppression systems in Iowa and Illinois. Continuously working to improve our knowledge, we’re adept at pairing our clients with the latest protection solutions.
With 65 years in the industry, we’re fully familiar with our clients’ needs and standards. Our factory-trained, well-practiced employees can assist you with choosing, designing, building and installing the ideal industrial fire suppression system in Illinois and Iowa. Our year-round, fully insured services are licensed and approved by all required municipalities; the State of Illinois and Department of Transportation.