RMSC Safety Sentinel: October 2013

RMSC Safety Sentinel: Oct. 2013

FIRE SAFETY – October 2013


The month of October is recognized as National Fire Safety Month. Statistically fires account for approximately 5% of all workplace fatalities; however, fires result in innumerable injuries, significant property damage, work stoppages and shutdowns.

OSHA has various safety regulations that address fire safety, protection and prevention in the workplace. These standards address requirements for firefighting equipment on job sites and in fixed facilities, requirements for fire watch, as well as the storage and protection of combustible / flammable materials in the work place. One of the most frequently cited violations related to fire safety is the failure to provide available portable fire extinguishers.


In industry, employers must provide written plans and employee training concerning emergency action and fire protection described in Subpart E. Subpart L – Fire Protection concerns selection, distribution, and employee training regarding workplace fire protection features such as fire brigades, portable fire extinguishers, automatic sprinkler systems, and fire detection equipment. In general, portable fire extinguishers will be accessible in locations no more than 75 ft. from employee work stations for Class A fires (ordinary combustibles); and no more than 50 ft. for Class B fires (flammable liquids and gasses.)


In construction, employers must provide at a minimum a readily available, fully charged and inspected portable fire extinguisher on all job sites for every 3000 square ft of the protected building area. Unimpeded and unobstructed travel distance cannot exceed 100ft. One or more portable fire extinguishers, rated not less than 2A, shall be provided on each floor. In multistory buildings, at least one portable fire extinguisher shall be located adjacent to stairway.


Is a fire watch required? In work done in industrial or commercial facilities, Fire watchers shall be required whenever welding or cutting is performed in locations where other than a minor fire might develop, or any of the following conditions exist: combustible material, in building construction or contents, closer than 35 feet (10.7 m) to the point of operation, or if combustibles are more than 35 feet (10.7 m) away but are easily ignited by sparks. Wall or floor openings within a 35-foot (10.7 m) radius expose combustible material in adjacent areas including concealed spaces in walls or floors. Combustible materials are adjacent to the opposite side of metal partitions, walls, ceilings, or roofs and are likely to be ignited by conduction or radiation. These requirements are often adopted by new construction projects as well.


Take time today to check all portable fire extinguishers for annual inspections, full charge, and access. Make sure all employees are trained in proper use and selection of fire extinguishers. Check the work place for proper storage of combustible and flammable materials in relation to possible ignition sources. Train all employees in fire safety precautions and procedures. Use extreme caution when performing hot work such as welding, cutting, and grinding operations. Review emergency action plan for fire response and evacuation plans.

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