The impact and damages caused by fire in a manufacturing facility should never be underestimated. Fire at manufacturing plants kill and injure many workers. They cost a lot of property damage every year. Significant injuries to workers, fatalities and costly damage to property all have the potential to spell the end of a business. However, they’re also preventable.
Often, machines are custom built to produce specific products, and if damaged or destroyed in a fire, they may take months or even years to rebuild, resulting in significant downtime and lost revenue. While there is no such thing as a totally fireproof manufacturing plant, there are steps you can take to forestall fires and secure your business.
It’s crucial to assess the fire risks of the combustibles in your manufacturing plant, as well as ensure that your fire protection systems will operate as intended in the event of a fire. Here are some of the factors that usually contribute to structure fires in manufacturing plants: flammable or combustible liquids or gases, piping or filter dust, fiber and lint (including sawdust or excelsior), electrical wire or cable insulation, trash or waste, and structural framing.
Hence, here are some important fire prevention tips a manufacturing facility needs to implement:
- Establish responsibility for fire safety
It’s important that clear systems are established, including exercising due diligence to ensure appropriate policies, procedures, safety practices and resources are in place. It is ultimately your and your company’s responsibility to select safe equipment. You can be held accountable by multiple authorities.
- Perform an in-depth hazard assessment
Fire hazard assessments allow a professional to walk through your facility and identify fire and life safety risks that are putting your employees and your business in danger. A hazard assessment is not only intended to help your facility with code compliance, although that is certainly a benefit. You’ll not only gain an understanding of what the risks are, but you will also receive a complete plan for mitigating those risks.
- Invest in fire protection systems
Management often hesitates at some of the costs associated with fire protection. Purchasing state-of-the-art fire protection systems and equipment for new buildings can certainly be expensive, but the cost of fire incident is a lot higher. Consider the loss of business and production downtime that can occur as a result of a fire. If the damage is bad enough, you may even have to rebuild or relocate your facility. A range of affordable fire protection solutions is available for manufacturing sites, including basic fire extinguishers, water spray deluge systems, gas or foam systems.
- Regularly revisit training and emergency response processes
While fire protection systems are critical for any manufacturing facility, developing a culture of prevention is just as important. A confident team that is able to respond well in the event of a fire is an invaluable investment and can substantially reduce the impact of a crisis. Protection equipment may extinguish a minor fire from getting out of control, but prevention stops the fire from starting in the first place. Emergency evacuation procedures for industrial parks should be regularly reviewed, and everyone working in a manufacturing facility should be trained on how to respond appropriately to a fire incident.
- Regularly audit fire protection equipment
People often make the mistake of thinking that a fire won’t happen to them—not in their facility. But in manufacturing plants, the risks of fire are constant and varied. Reliability is vital when it comes to fire protection. Systems and equipment should always perform to the standard to which they were originally designed and installed. Regular testing can help to uncover any faults or issues that may cause malfunction. Don’t wait to install or upgrade a state-of-the art system; a fire in your plant will cost much more than a suppression system.