A Refresher on Factory Fire Safety

A tortilla chip factory in Austin, TX, had two separate instances of fires at its factory last week, both a result of food waste that caused chips to spontaneously combust. While the fires didn’t harm anyone or do any damage to property (and it’s a shame such a tasty snack burned), it does bring to mind the importance of fire safety in and around a manufacturing facility.

We’ve covered general fire safety tips and fires caused by arc faults in wires in the past, but it’s important to revisit fire safety tips, especially in the dry heat of the summer when rainfall is minimal. In no particular order of importance, here are a few key things to remember with fire safety in factories:

  • Stack items on shelves and racks no closer than 18” to your sprinkler system’s heads. Keeping this distance allows all sprinklers to spray properly without being blocked.

  • Leave several inches of space between stacked supplies, such as pallets. This extra space can help limit the spread of fires over entire rows of supplies.

  • Review all electrical components of machinery for possible loose wires or faulty ballasts, especially on any used equipment you’ve purchased.

  • For flammable items such as propane, make it easy for employees to remember where to properly store them by taping off sections of the floor of your facilities.

  • Prevent garbage cans from overflowing. This may seem simple, but the smallest spark can catch hold of any number of flammable items like waste paper, rags, etc.

  • Make sure fire extinguishers are fully charged by checking the extinguisher gauge and checking the maintenance tag. Any maintenance older than one month indicates the extinguishers should likely be checked again.

  • Keep fire retardant supplies on hand such as fire blankets, jackets and gloves for employees to wear and use in areas with flammable materials.

As always, proper education and review of fire safety protocol goes a long way in preventing fires in facilities. It’s often the smallest detail that can turn a spark into a blaze, such as a piece of equipment being improperly stored or not turned off after use. While the dry summer heat is at its peak, take the time to review fire safety procedures in your facility. What are some additional measures your company takes to practice fire safety, especially in the summer? Share with us in the comments below.

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