The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) defines a flammable liquid as a liquid with a flash point of 100 degrees F or lower, while a combustible liquid has a flash point of 100 degrees F or higher. Diethyl ether and ethylene oxide are examples of extremely flammable liquids while cooking oils, motor oil and lubricating oils are less dangerous combustible liquids.
If you work with flammable or combustible chemicals in your plant, shop or laboratory, safe storage is essential for your health, safety and fire protection. Follow these basic tips to comply with Houston fire codes and help keep your building safe while storing hazardous chemicals.
Safe chemical storage begins with creating an accurate inventory. Write out an inventory sheet and keep a copy handy in an easily accessible location. This inventory helps facilitate an accurate appraisal of the danger level in your chemical storage area and can also help emergency responders put out chemical fires more effectively.
During the inventory process, make sure all your chemicals are stored in properly labeled approved storage containers on stable, wall-secured shelving. The storage area should be out of direct sunlight and away from sources of heat. Segregate chemicals that could interact, such as acids and bases or organic materials and oxidizing mineral acids.
Flammable and combustible materials are least likely to cause health problems or fires if they’re stored in a cool, well-ventilated space. The ventilation your storage area requires depends on the amount and type of chemicals stored there. Your building’s existing ventilation controls may be adequate, or you may need to install a system of ducts and hoods to provide sufficient ventilation.
Some chemicals are so toxic that they must be stored and handled in a fume hood or gas cabinet. Constant ventilation helps reduce exposure to fumes or dust emitted by these dangerous chemicals. If you’re not sure about the ventilation requirements for your specific chemicals, check the manufacturer’s instructions, Section 9.5 of NFPA 30 and applicable Houston fire codes.
So far, these tips have involved ways to prevent a flammable liquid fire. Despite your best efforts, it’s still possible that a blaze could ignite. If this happens, your lab’s fire protection equipment becomes vital for saving lives and reducing property damage. Here’s what your building needs:
If you need help selecting, installing, testing, repairing or replacing fire protection equipment, Kauffman Co. is proud to provide these services in the Houston area. To learn more about our fire protection services, please contact us online or call us at 713-893-1090 today.
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