Self-Storage & Warehouse Fire Safety Checklist
Your warehouse fire risk assessment
You should conduct a warehouse fire risk assessment immediately. It’s important that when you do this, you take into account the goods you are storing, who is at risk, and how you can minimise those risks.
Remember, your warehouse fire risk assessment should be ongoing. If ever you start storing new or different goods, you will need to update your warehouse risk assessment.
Fire equipment for warehouses
The warehouse fire equipment you will need depends on the risks you identify, and the goods you store.
It’s safe to say that you’ll definitely need class A fire extinguishers, because of the sheer volume of packaging stored (click here to read our brief extinguisher guide).
If you store flammable liquids, you’ll need at least a class B fire extinguisher (foam or dry powder).
On top of this, you’ll also need to install a sprinkler system. This is incredibly important in warehouses; with so much fuel crammed into a tiny space, once a fire ignites, it will spread quickly. A sprinkler system will keep it at bay while you wait for firefighters to arrive.
Not only will this reduce fire and smoke damage, but it will also reduce water damage. This is because sprinkler systems release far less water than the fire services use each minute. And since the fire is kept from spreading, firefighters don’t have to spend as long quelling the fire.
Warehouse packaging – the obvious risk
Class A fires are the ones caused by ordinary combustibles, such as paper, fabric cardboard and wood. If you use packaging, you need to prepare for a class A fire.
In warehouses, they’re an obvious risk; so many products will be enclosed in cardboard boxes, wrapped in plastic and stacked on wooden pallets.
A water or water additive fire extinguisher will be able to fight these. However, depending on the other items you store, you may need multi class fire extinguishers. (Read our fire extinguisher guide here).
Of course, the best way to prevent a fire is to remove the risk. Never leave loose packaging lying around; always dispose of it away in a locked, wheelie bin.
Storing warehouse flammable goods
When storing flammable liquids or gases, think of the VICES of a fire…
A good flow of fresh air will mean any flammable vapours from liquids or gases will be diluted.
Have all obvious sources of ignition been removed from the storage area?
Think of sparks, electrical appliances, welding equipment and hot surfaces. Make sure you store your materials well away from your smoking area, too.
Ensure your substances are kept in secure, lidded containers. They should never be dented or damaged, either.
Make sure your container or canister is in a steady, upright position.
Of course, if you store flammable liquids, spillages are inevitable. Use a spillage catchment tray so that seepages and leaks won’t spread.
Although it’s last on the list, it should probably be the first thing you consider. It’s not always possible, but when it is, exchange flammable substances for non-flammable or less flammable ones.
It’s crucial that you segregate flammable substances. Keep them away from working spaces and other supplies. Keep them separate from doors, exits and stairways. If you can, put in a physical barrier, partition or wall.
Warehouse fire safety training
Fire safety in warehouses can become complex, so your staff should be properly trained in how to use flammable goods. This includes moving them, storing them, responding to spillages and the like.
If somebody’s job changes and they are exposed to different substances, they will need to be re-trained.
Which warehouse fire detection system?
ASD (air sampling) smoke detection units are a good choice for warehouses. This is because they give early warning, and can detect smoke before it is even visible to the naked eye. In fact, one of the leading brands, VESDA, stands for Very Early Smoke Detection Apparatus.