Preventing Fires at Manufacturing Plants: 3 Key Points

January 27 2022

Preventing Fires at Manufacturing Plants: 3 Key Points

Fires at manufacturing facilities kill and injure hundreds of employees. They create billions of dollars worth of property damage each year. And generally speaking, they’re preventable.

While there is no such thing as a completely fireproof industrial plant, there are steps you can take to prevent fires and protect your business. Here are three crucial fire prevention points your manufacturing facility needs to implement today.

1. Perform an In-Depth Special Hazard Assessment

Manufacturing facilities face more special fire hazards than other industries. From critical Computer Numerical Control (CNC) equipment to electrical enclosures and process areas, manufacturing plants require specialized knowledge and equipment to control potentially hazardous situations.

But the potential risks are not always evident to people who aren’t trained fire protection professionals. While you may believe your facility is protected, you could be missing dangerous hazards.

Special hazard assessments are not only intended to help your facility with code compliance, although that is undoubtedly a benefit. Fire hazard assessments allow a professional to walk through your facility and identify fire and life safety risks that put your employees and your business in danger. You’ll not only gain an understanding of what the risks are, but you’ll also receive a complete plan for mitigating those risks.

2. Invest in Special Hazard Fire Suppression Systems

Management often hesitates at some of the costs associated with fire protection. Purchasing state-of-the-art special hazard fire suppression systems and equipment for new buildings or retrofitting older buildings with fire protection systems can certainly be expensive. But the cost of having a fire is much higher.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) report, an estimated 37,000 fires at industrial or manufacturing properties (including the utility, defense, agriculture, and mining sectors) are reported to U.S. fire departments each year. Those fires create annual losses of $1.2 billion in direct property damage.

But the cost of fire is even higher than the dollar amount of the damage. Consider the loss of business and production downtime that can occur due to a fire. If the damage is bad enough, you may even have to rebuild or relocate your facility—if your insurance will cover the costs. On top of that, bills keep coming in, even when production is stopped.

Beyond the financial costs of fire, it also takes a toll on human lives. According to the same report above, fires at industrial and manufacturing properties cause an estimate of 16 civilian deaths and 273 civilian injuries every year.

Special hazard fire suppression systems for manufacturing facilities and various environments are vital for preventing costly fires. Designed to fill the gaps left by traditional water-based fire sprinkler systems, special hazard suppression systems use cutting-edge technologies, custom setups, and different suppression agents to effectively detect and neutralize fires without damaging building contents, endangering facility occupants, or compromising business continuity.

Various special hazard suppression systems are available to provide industrial facilities with a custom solution to their unique special hazard areas, including clean agent, dry chemical, CO2, and foam. Don’t wait to install or upgrade a state-of-the-art system for your business’ environment, a fire in your building or industrial facility will cost much more than a special hazard suppression system.

3. Train Your Employees in Fire Prevention and Safety

While fire protection systems are critical for any manufacturing facility, developing a culture of prevention is just as important. Protection equipment may extinguish a minor fire from getting out of control, but prevention stops the fire from starting in the first place.

Heated equipment, shop tools, and industrial equipment are the leading causes of structural fires in industrial or manufacturing facilities. According to figures from Factory Mutual, three-fifths of fires and nearly three-fourths of property damage could be avoided through preventative maintenance and frequent inspection and testing. Make it a top priority to train all employees on fire prevention techniques such as proper maintenance and storage of materials.

In addition to fire prevention training, employees at manufacturing facilities should also be trained in fire safety in case a fire does break out. Hands-on fire extinguisher training is required in every workplace but is essential for industries with increased hazards, such as manufacturing.

Depending on your type of plant, you could have a combination of Class A, B, C, and D fire extinguishers located within easy access of employees. Training staff on proper fire extinguisher use is necessary for any manufacturing facility.

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Prevent Fires at Your Manufacturing Plant with a Special Hazard Fire Protection Solution

People often make the mistake of thinking that a fire won’t happen to them — not in their facility. But in manufacturing, the risks of fire are constant and varied. Take the necessary steps today to prevent your business from going up in smoke tomorrow.

Businesses in the industrial and energy sector should partner with an experienced fire protection company to design, install, and maintain a special hazard fire suppression system tailored to their facility, ensuring regulatory compliance and continual protection of expensive assets.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on February 3, 2019, and has been updated for accuracy and current best practices.

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Special Hazard Fire Suppression Systems: A Guide For All Business Environments
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