Hazardous Chemicals and Fire

You’ve probably seen more than one article on how to save money while making your property greener. In today’s tough economic climate, these ideas are more relevant than ever. Here are a few:

  1. Know your chemical – consult the MSDS sheet.
  2. Remember, it’s not the flammable liquid itself that burns, but rather the invisible vapor that forms, mixes with air, then burns when the liquid is heated to its flashpoint or above and ignited.
  3. Maintain adequate ventilation; avoid confined areas where vapors can accumulate.
  4. Eliminate potential ignition sources.
  5. Think "covered" or "closed" for containers.
  6. Properly bond and ground when transferring liquids.
  7. Maintain good housekeeping; keep liquids segregated, organized, and safely stored according to fire codes.
  8. Use approved storage equipment.
  9. Never become complacent; flammables and the fire danger they present are very serious matters.
  10. Remember the “Fire Triangle.” To ensure your equipment and practices follow established regulations and procedures that reduce fire risks. The fire triangle consists of air, heat, and fuel. All three components must be present for a fire to start.

Air provides oxygen for combustion.

The amount of heat required for ignition varies with the characteristics of the fuel and may be introduced by a variety of sources, including electric or friction sparks, open flame, or heating elements.

Fuel is any substance that will sustain combustion after the initial application of heat to start it: paper, wood, plastic, fabric, natural or bottled gas; the vapors from gasoline, kerosene, diesel fuel, butane, etc.; cooking oil, or nail polish remover.

Removing any one leg of the fire triangle stops a fire from starting. Safety equipment used for storing, transporting, or dispensing flammable liquids is designed to control one or more legs of the fire triangle: containing the liquid fuel, dissipating heat, or closing out oxygen.

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