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FLAMMABLE LIQUID FIRES
We think of a flammable liquids fire usually occurring at an industrial plant. However, these type fires have also caused death, serious injury and tremendous damage on construction job sites. Here are a few incidents that recently occurred:
- A welder decided to cut the end out of a 55 gallon drum which had been used for storing concrete curing compound. Only residual liquid remained in the drum, but enough vapor and air existed to cause an explosion. The mechanic was seriously injured.
- Two equipment operators were attempting to start a truck by priming the carburetor with gasoline. The open container of gasoline spilled onto our worker and ignited after the engine backfired. The worker suffered severe burns to his arms and face.
- A portable can of gasoline was damaged after being struck by equipment. Workers left it on the floor of an apartment complex under construction. Leakage from the can covered a wide area of the flow and later ignited, probably from a cigarette or match. The building sustained a total loss from fire.
Flammable liquids may be on the job site for many reasons. The important thing is to respect them and know how to handle them properly. Some important points to remember are:
- Never smoke while handling or using flammable liquids and especially near areas where flammable liquids are stored.
- Flammable liquids must have good cross ventilation. If the smell of vapors is heavy, check to make sure the adequate ventilation is provided.
- Large drums of flammable liquids must be bonded to a good ground, and portable containers filled from these drums must be grounded to prevent static sparks.
- Never allow flammable liquid spillage or leakage to go unattended inside of buildings or storage rooms.
- If flammable liquids are being used, a suitable fire extinguisher should be available close to the area, but not immediately adjacent to the liquid. (A fire extinguisher sitting next to a can of gasoline won't be much good if the can catches on fire.)
- You should know how to use and care for fire extinguishers. Don't wait for the fire to find out you don't know how to use an extinguisher.
- If a fire does occur, make sure it's reported to someone.
- When cleaning, use nonflammable solvents. Never use gasoline to clear floors.
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