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Jesse Handel
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Category: General
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Experience:  B.S. Degree Chem. & Bact. 7 yrs tax preparation.
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What are the top ten recommendations for ensuring adequate

Resolved Question:

What are the top ten recommendations for ensuring adequate fire prevention and protection in a 50,000 square foot warehouse operation where paints and paint supplies are stored
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: General
Expert:  Jesse Handel replied 2 years ago.

Hello and thank you for coming to Just Answer. We appreciate the opportunity to help you with your questions. Sorry about changing your question format from chat to Q&A, but my computer doesn't deal well with the chat format.

Part of one of my previous jobs was the proper storage of chemicals with all types of dangers. OSHA regulates the storage of flammable material in businesses based on

OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.106 - Flammable and Combustible
Liquids, which is based upon the 1969 version of NFPA 30 Flammable and
Combustible Liquids Code. OSHA requires that the storage of flammable and combustible liquids meet with the OSHA standard or the most recent NFPA standard.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) sets the national standards for storing all types of chemicals safely, among other fire protection issues. Their website can be found at nfpa.org. NFPA 30 is the standard that you can purchase from the NFPA website that provides all of the code requirements for storing flammable liquids, such as your paint and paint supplies. They sell NFPA 30 for $48.50. If you register for membership with the NFPA at $150 per year, you can also go to the NFPA website, look under "codes and standards", and access the NFPA 30 standard for reading online or printing yourself, as well as other information and advice provided by the NFPA. OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.106 - Flammable and Combustible Liquids, which is based upon the 1969 version of NFPA 30 Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code can be found here.

The rules and recommendations you will have to follow to store your flammable (paints and solvents) and combustible materials (rags, coveralls, anything made of paper or cloth, generally) depend on the amount of materials you have stored in a single storage area. A single storage area can be your entire warehouse if you have all your materials stored in the open or it can be an UL-approved flammable storage cabinet. If you split up your materials into flammable storage cabinets, you can store more material in your building without needing expensive built-in fire safety systems.

Unfortunately, I would need lots of information about your paints and solvents in storage, how much you store, what combustible materials are present, the sprinkler system and fire control systems built into your warehouse and other information in order to give you specific requirements for your fire protection needs.

Flammable and combustible materials are sorted into a number of categories based on their flash point. The flash point and the classification of your chemicals should be listed on the MSDSs (Material Safety Data Sheets) that you are required to have readily available under OSHA requirements. NFPA 30 lists the classifications of flammable and combustible materials and lists how much of each type of material can be stored in a single storage area. Depending on the amount of paint you store, there are specific requirements for sprinkler systems and the design of your warehouse if you designate the warehouse as one storage area. Based on the classifications and amounts of paint you store, you may find that it is cheaper to purchase flammable storage cabinets and store your materials in a number of storage cabinets (each being its own storage area), than it will be to try to retrofit your warehouse to meet the fire protection code.

OSHA requirements section 1910.106(d)(5)(v) contain the requirements for which would apply to your warehouse if you store your paints and solvents outside of flammable liquid storage cabinets. Our paint storage facility contained hundreds of cans of paint and had sprinklers, raised door thresholds to contain spills, and a six-foot deep tank with a grill to walk on built into the floor to contain spills. The amount of flammable liquids in a warehouse is not restricted as long as the warehouse meets requirements.

I'm sorry that this is much more complicated than the simple recommendations that you requested, but these are the legal requirements that businesses have to follow to be in compliance with OSHA. Your local fire department would be happy to send a fireman over to review your current storage and provide advice on changes you should make to your existing situation, but you have to weigh that easy source of simplified information with the risk that by asking for a fire inspection, your company comes to official notice and you assume liability in the event that you don't implement the recommendations and a fire happens.

I will be happy to continue discussing this question and providing interpretation from the government "legalese" as necessary until you are satisfied with your answer.

Expert:  Jesse Handel replied 2 years ago.

Also, here are some articles on storing flammable liquids that are easier to understand and aren't written in government legalese.

princeton

Workplace group

Canadian Occupation Safety

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I was thinking it would be more like looking at a fire preventon and protection plan and the top ten recommendations would be in the lone of, Emergency evacuation, fire detection system, fire brigades, and training but thats all I can think of. And give a justification for each.

 

Do you know if this would be right? Sorry it was a vague question and thats why I am having a hard time with it.

 

Expert:  Jesse Handel replied 2 years ago.

No problem. Chemical storage and chemical safety is a much more complicated issue than most people would ever expect.

You'll need sprinkler systems with maintenance and testing schedules (keep records); evacuation plans with posted evacuation maps and evacuation drills; a fire detection system and manual fire alarm stations with maintenance and testing schedules (keep records); fire extinguishers with maintenance and testing schedules (keep records) and fire extinguisher training for your workers; MSDSs for all of your chemicals either available in binders or on computers available for workers to review; chemical spill kits for flammable materials available at various locations in your warehouse; goggles and safety glasses requirements posted and available in places where workers can get them before going where chemicals are used; a safety shower for washing chemicals off workers and eyewash stations in the event of materials in a worker's eyes (those can be plumbed in or purchased as stand-alone stations but they have to be tested and maintained with records kept); proper signage warning of flammable materials, exits, evacuation maps, safety shower and eyewash stations; lighted exit signs; and storage that ensures that exit paths are kept free of flammable materials.

Unless your business is located in an area that is very far from public firefighters, a fire brigade of trained workers would be a bigger legal and insurance risk than a help. Fire extinguisher training should emphasize that workers only fight trashcan-sized fires and that one of the first actions taken should be to call 911 or whatever your local emergency number is. Workers should call the fire department, evacuate, assemble at a predesignated spot and there should be a designated emergency coordinator who will hopefully have a roster of employees so that it can be confirmed that all employees have evacuated or the firefighters can be notified if there might be people still in the building.

All of this stuff should be written down in a fire prevention and emergency response plan, and workers should be trained on the content of the plan.

You should consider working with your local fire department. Not only will they have great suggestions, they will be grateful for knowing what is in the facility and knowing something about the facility before a fire happens, so that if something does occur; they will have some idea what they're getting into.

Jesse Handel, Scientist
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 262
Experience: B.S. Degree Chem. & Bact. 7 yrs tax preparation.
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