Looking for toolbox talks fire safety topics? Here are 5 you’ll enjoy — and they should make your day a little safer too. As always, we recommend that you edit our general messaging to make it a little more specific to your own work conditions.
A Toolbox Talk about Fire Safety and Prevention
As you know, fires are very costly to any industry, but especially the construction industry. So, how can you do your part to prevent them? The best thing to do is observe and comply with fire prevention rules and regulations. If you see a potential fire hazard, report it to your supervisor immediately.
Here are some excellent fire prevention tips to keep in mind:
- Practice good housekeeping. Properly discard of all trash and litter in areas before they accumulate.
- Know where fire alarm boxes and extinguishers are located.
- Know the different types of fire extinguishers and how to use them.
- Store hazardous materials in designated areas and in proper containers.
- Keep exits free of obstructions that could prevent people from exiting quickly.
- Know the proper exits and procedures in case of an emergency.
- Ensure electrical connections are working properly and grounded.
- Smoke in designated areas ONLY. Did you know that the temperature of ash is often as high as 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit?
- Use fireproof receptacles to extinguish smoking materials.
- Keep equipment clean and use it properly.
- Handle flammable liquids with caution. Use only approved containers. Paint, paint thinner, alcohol, naphtha, lacquer thinner and gasoline should only be used for their intended purposes.
- Clean oil and gasoline spills immediately. Place oil-soaked rags in proper safety containers.
- Fire-resistant covers, spark shields and a fire watch should be used as appropriate to prevent fires.
Protect Yourself From Fires
The scary thing about fires is that you can’t really predict when they might happen. Meaning they do not occur with frequency or regularity which is why workers are not particularly concerned about them. Another word for this is complacency. It is difficult to motivate someone to take an active interest in fire prevention when they have never been involved in a serious fire. Workers tend to face other imminent hazards on a daily basis, and fires tend to be the last thing on their mind. This leads to the common misconception that fire prevention is someone else’s problem (hint: it’s not).
Almost every construction worker has at one time or another seen someone injured by a fall or being struck by an object. Very few have seen a person burned in a fire or seen valuable property and months of work reduced to smoke and ashes. It’s for this reason that we need to be reminded regularly of the danger of fires. Here are a fire safety tips to keep in mind:
- Observe all ‘NO SMOKING’ signs, especially near flammables.
- Make sure the area is free from all combustibles when burning or welding.
- Place all construction debris in the proper area for disposal.
- Know where fire extinguishers are located.
A fire today could mean loss of life, loss of a job, personal injury or property damage. Are you doing your part to prevent one? Check both your job and your home for fire hazards.
Fire Protection Plan Tips
Constant attention to the fundamentals of fire prevention is vital – especially in the construction industry.
For each job site, a fire protection plan should be developed and contain the following information:
- Procedure for reporting fires.
- All fire fighting equipment locations should be clearly visible. For multi-level sites, each floor must contain fire extinguishers in clearly marked locations. (Consistent locations floor to floor)
- Emergency escape procedures and routes.
- Procedure for accounting for personnel
- Rescue and medical duties, if applicable.
All workers, subcontractors, property owners, and the local fire department should review the fire protection plan. The plan must also be posted in full view of workers.
The Superintendent/Safety Representative must make fire hazard inspections of the entire project on a regular basis. Immediate correction of substandard conditions is mandatory.
7 Things to Remember to Prevent Fires
- Particular care should be taken when welding and cutting in locations where combustibles are exposed. When such welding or cutting is done, the surrounding area must be protected with fire resistive material and an adequate number of approved fire extinguishers must be immediately available.
- The operation and maintenance of temporary heating equipment must create no fire hazards. The use of solid fuel salamanders must be prohibited. Clothing must not be dried or placed on or near heaters.
- All flammable and combustible materials must be stored, piled and handled with due regard to their fire characteristics. Flammable liquids must be stored in an approved manner and dispensed only in acceptable safety containers. Welding gases must be stored in isolated areas and segregated by type of gas. Lumber should be stacked in small piles that are interspersed with side aisles. Lumber storage should be as far as possible from any structure.
- Temporary shacks or similar structures must be constructed of fire-resistant materials.
- Debris must not be allowed to accumulate adjacent to any electrical equipment, buildings or structures.
- Personnel must be trained on the types of fire extinguishers and their use.
Fire Safety Reminders
When it comes to fire safety, protection is the name of the game. We need to protect ourselves, co-workers, tools and equipment, storage trailers, and the location where we work in case of fire. So, how can we do this? Here are a few tips:
Report it to the Fire Department:
- Is the fire department’s emergency phone number posted next to the telephone?
Check Your Fire Extinguishers
- Are there fire extinguishers available in our work areas?
- Is there a fire extinguisher in the job truck?
- Is there a full extinguisher in the job office trailer?
- Do you have extinguishers and smoke alarms at home?
Flammables and Combustibles Safety
- Are flammable liquids stored in approved containers?
- Have combustible materials been removed from all cutting and welding areas?
- Are ‘No Smoking’ areas posted so all workers know not to smoke in areas where flammable liquids or containers are stored?
Practice Good Housekeeping
- Clean up all work areas several times per day. Don’t wait until the areas are cluttered.
Know Your Fire Exits and Escape Plans
- Do you know the one closest to your work area?
- Do you have a back-up exit in case the first one is blocked?
- Do you have an escape plan at home?
Check Smoke Alarms
- Replace batteries twice a year.
- Test smoke alarms once per month.
Remember that fire protection starts with you. Always plan what to do, who to call and where to go should a fire break out. Do your part to protect yourself and others from fire. It doesn’t take much for a small fire to start and become out of control. With proper training and knowledge, you can protect yourself, your workplace and your home.
The Fire Triangle
Let’s talk about what makes a fire and what we can do to prevent one. Fire can be compared to a triangle. What does this mean? Well, three sides are necessary to make a triangle and there are three ingredients needed to cause a fire (1. heat, 2. air, and 3. Fuel). If any one of these three sides are missing, there can be no fire.
Heat, the first side of the fire triangle, can come from many sources. It can be generated by sparks from welding operations, discarded cigarette butts, electrical shorts, frayed wiring, friction from power tools, and hot exhaust pipes.
Fuel, the second side of the fire triangle, may be liquid, such as gasoline or solvents; a solid, such as paper or wood scrap; or a gas, such as propane.
Air, the third side of the fire triangle, contains oxygen that is necessary to sustain a fire. This is one side of the triangle we can’t do much about. Air is usually present. Heat, fuel, and air must be in the proper proportion for fire to occur.
How to Eliminate the Triangle?
Let’s talk about what we can do to prevent the fire triangle from forming. Remember that if you remove any one of the three ingredients, you will prevent or extinguish the fire. We can help prevent fires by doing the following:
- Maintain a neat and clean work area.
- Put oily or paint-soaked rags in covered metal containers.
- Observe all “No Smoking” signs
- Keep all combustible materials away from furnaces or other sources of ignition.
- Report any fire hazards that can’t be eliminated including electrical hazards.
- Arrange cold weather heating devices so that tarps won’t blow into them.
When you know the angles, it’s easier to prevent and control fires. Remember the fire triangle: heat, air, and fuel. When you find these three ingredients present, take heed because a fire could be in the making.
Fire Safety 101
There’s plenty of air, fuel, and ignition sources – especially on construction sites, so we’ve all got to be on our toes to prevent fire. Here are some ways to keep the job from going up in smoke:
- Keep the site clean. Store combustible materials away from ignition sources.
- Report any possible fire hazards: open flames, sparks, and electrical equipment in need of repair.
- Be sure combustibles are safe from ignition. Have a fire extinguisher handy for welding and cutting operations, or when open flame equipment is used.
- Protect temporary electric wiring from possible damage. In case of a fire in or near live electrical equipment, use a dry chemical extinguisher, and not water.
- Don’t smoke near flammables, in “No Smoking” areas, or while re-fueling equipment. Make sure cigarettes and matches are out. Smoke only in designated areas.
- Use approved safety cans or the original manufacturer’s container to store flammable liquids. Keep these containers closed when not in use, and never store them near exits or passageways.
- Clean up any spills as soon as they occur. Put saturated rags into closed metal containers.
- Know where the closest fire-protection equipment is located, and how to use it. Check to see that fire-fighting equipment is in the clear, in proper condition, and ready for instant use.
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