There are specific hazards and challenges that are present at warehouses where fire hazard is the most common. This makes strategizing so important for owners and warehouse supervisors as fire can easily turn millions to waste.
There are several factors to consider when creating an effective fire prevention strategy for warehouses.
What is stored in your warehouse?
The type of materials or products inside a warehouse largely impacts the risk of fire. Products containing combustible materials such as wood, paper or carton, plastic, ignitable liquids, aerosols, etc. should be looked into to access the solution required.
Are all hazards clearly identified?
If hazards are identified ahead of time, prevention can be done hence, reducing risk. Here are the hazards included in warehouse setting:
- Hot work near combustible materials when repairing storage racks damaged by forklifts;
- High-intensity discharge (HID) lamps, which can burst and spread hot elements if the wrong bulb is used in open fixtures;
- High-velocity, low-speed (HVLS) fans, which can displace enough air to push a heat and smoke plume away from the nearest sprinkler head, delaying the activation of a sprinkler system;
- The use of forklift battery chargers in storage racks, which can release gas that collects and ignites; and
- Poor housekeeping, which can allow incipient fires to spread rapidly.
Will the fire protection system be appropriate?
Below are different types of fire protection system. It is a better to ask for clear instructions and guidance from your local government authorities on which kind of system your warehouse should be using that is appropriate with the risk present.
Wet Fire Sprinkler Systems
The wet-pipe system employs automatic sprinklers attached to a piping system connected to a water supply. The water discharges immediately from sprinklers opened by a fire. Only those sprinklers which have been operated by heat over the fire will discharge water.
Dry Pipe Systems
The dry-pipe system employs automatic sprinklers attached to a piping system containing air or nitrogen under pressure. When released, the water flows into the piping system and discharges only from those sprinklers which have been operated by the fire. Dry-pipe systems are installed in lieu of wet-pipe systems where piping is subject to freezing.
Special Hazard Fire Protection Systems
Special systems are designed to detect and extinguish fires in locations where standard suppression systems are not appropriate or adequate.
Dry Chemical Fire Suppression Systems
Pressured dry chemicals, used in conjunction with the proper detection system, can extinguish a fire before it becomes detectable to the eye, thus protecting resources from damage and businesses from any major interruptions.
Gaseous Fire Suppression Systems
Carbon dioxide is a clean and non-flammable gas that is commonly used as a fire-extinguishing agent for areas that are not typically occupied by people. CO2 efficiently and effectively extinguishes fires without leaving any toxic or liquid residue that might damage property or equipment.
Foam Fire Suppression Systems
Foam extinguishing systems are effective for rapidly controlling and extinguishing flammable liquid fires.
Other steps to be added to enhance fire protection and preparedness are:
1 – Set out regular fire emergency drill to employees to ensure that they are ready in case a fire happens. This will help not only to save their lives but also to reduce greater damage on overall business.
2 – In correlation with fire drills and practices, fire emergency evacuation equipment – such as a foldable evacuation mat, a stair chair, or a fire-retardant evacuation mattress – should also be installed in the warehouse for the safe transportation of injured individuals out of the warehouse.
3 – Regularly check fire protection system. When products get updated, so as the materials and quantity of items inside the warehouse which will then increase the risk present. Hence, the existing fire protection system may no longer be appropriate.
4 – Create a back up plan on how to continue operations in case a fire happens.
5 – Ask for property fire protection recommendation from insurance carriers.
Sources: EHS Daily Advisor