OSHA 30 Subpart F Fire Protection and Prevention
Note: In a previous article that was posted on December 14, 2016, we gave an overview of OSHA’s 30 hour training course. You can read that article here: hvac-blog.acca.org/osha-30-need-know/
The OSHA 30 hour Construction Industry Training course covers a number of specific topics. However, there are certain topics that OSHA may require contractors to complete extra training on based on the industry that the person participating is associated with.
Contact your local OSHA office to determine whether you are required to participate in extra training as part of the OSHA 30 hour Construction Industry Training course. More information can be found at www.osha.gov.
Fire safety work practices are addressed in Subpart F. It is important for contractors to review the elements of this subpart most applicable to their companies and industry. Fire safety should be an important part of a company’s health and safety program. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to implement fire protection and prevention programs in the workplace.
A contractor’s emergency action plan for the job site must include:
- Emergency escape procedures.
- Equipment operation procedures prior to evacuation.
- Procedures to account for all employees.
- Rescue and medical duties for those employees responsible for such duties.
- Preferred means of reporting emergencies.
.· Names and titles of employees with duties under the plan.
OSHA requires that all employees be trained to use fire extinguishers. Training is required upon employment and at least annually thereafter. It is recommended that the training session cover how to determine when a fire is too big to handle, and what type of extinguisher to use. It also is recommended that live fire training be conducted periodically (this level of training is not needed each year). Live training exposes employees to the pressure released from a fire extinguisher when the handle is squeezed and provides hands-on practice extinguishing a fire. Some local fire departments and most fire extinguisher suppliers offer this type of training.
All company fire – prevention training sessions should be documented.
Fire Alarm Devices
OSHA requires an alarm system be established by an employer to alert workers on the job site and local fire departments of fire emergencies. Job site telephones and employee entrances must have alarm codes and reporting instructions.
Fire Extinguishers and Safety Practices
All fire extinguishers will be examined at least yearly and/or recharged or repaired to ensure operability and safety. A tag must be attached to show the maintenance or recharge date and the signature or initials of the person performing the service.
There are different types of fire extinguishers designed to put out the different classes of fire. Selecting the appropriate fire extinguisher is an important consideration for any contractor. The wrong extinguisher may make a fire emergency worse. For example, failing to use a C-rated extinguisher on energized electrical components may endanger workers by causing the extinguishing material to be electrified by the energized components that are on fire. C-rated fire extinguishers put out the fire by using a chemical that does not conduct electricity.
- Each fire extinguisher must be inspected monthly to make sure it is in its designated location and has not been tampered with or actuated.
- Each fire extinguisher will be clearly visible with nothing obstructing or obscuring it from view.
- Before each project begins, the project manager or designee will contact the local fire department to determine whether any variations from the company’s standard fire-prevention procedures are required.
- No – smoking signs will be posted in all regulated areas.
- Only approved containers will be used to store flammable or combustible materials.
- All containers will be bonded together and grounded when transferring flammable or combustible liquids.
- All work areas will be kept free of debris and other combustible materials.
- Inside company – owned or leased buildings, fire extinguishers will be spaced no more than 100 feet apart and will have no less than a 2A rating for every 3,000 feet of protected building.
- No employee will be permitted to use an extinguisher without having been fully trained.
- Fire extinguishers will be stored at a distance no greater than 10 feet from torch users.
- A fire extinguisher, rated not less than 10B, will be provided within 50 feet of the location where more than 5 gallons of flammable or combustible liquids or 5 pounds of a flammable gas are used on a job site.
- In buildings, all fire extinguishers will be mounted on a wall and properly marked.
- All vehicles will carry at least one ABC – rated extinguisher.
- When at a job site, all employees will know the location of each fire extinguisher.
Using Fire Extinguishers
When using fire extinguishers, employees should employ the “PASS” system of early – stage firefighting.
P — Pull the pin on the extinguisher.
A — Aim at the base of the fire.
S — Squeeze the handle.
S — Sweep at the fire, moving from side to side.
Employees should be instructed that if a fire cannot be extinguished using one full extinguisher, they should evacuate the site and let the fire department handle the situation.
Fires are classified as A, B, C, D, or K based on the type of substance that is the fuel for the fire.
Class A — Fires involving ordinary combustibles, such as paper, trash, some plastics, wood, and cloth.
Class B — Fires involving flammable gases or liquids, such as propane, oil, and gasoline.
Class C — Fires involving energized electrical components.
Class D — Fires involving metal including aluminum, magnesium, beryllium, and sodium.
Class K — Fires involving vegetable or animal cooking oils or fats.
Key definitions that apply to this subpart:
- Approved, for the purpose of this subpart, means equipment that has been listed or approved by a nationally recognized testing laboratory such as Factory Mutual Engineering Corp., or Underwriters’ Laboratories, Inc., or Federal agencies such as Bureau of Mines, or U.S. Coast Guard, which issue approvals for such equipment.
- Closed container means a container so sealed by means of a lid or other device that neither liquid nor vapor will escape from it at ordinary temperatures.
- Combustion means any chemical process that involves oxidation sufficient to produce light or heat.
- Fire is a chemical reaction that requires three elements to be present for the reaction to take place and continue. The three elements (also referred to as “the fire triangle” are heat or an ignition source, fuel, and oxygen.
- Fire brigade means an organized group of employees that are knowledgeable, trained, and skilled in the safe evacuation of employees during emergency situations and in assisting in firefighting operations.
- Fire resistance means so resistant to fire that, for specified time and under conditions of a standard heat intensity, it will not fail structurally and will not permit the side away from the fire to become hotter than a specified temperature. For purposes of this part, fire resistance shall be determined by the Standard Methods of Fire Tests of Building Construction and Materials, NFPA 251-1969.
- Flammable means capable of being easily ignited, burning intensely, or having a rapid rate of flame spread.
- Flammable liquid means any liquid having a vapor pressure not exceeding 40 pounds per square inch (absolute) at 100 ºF (8 ºC) and having a flashpoint at or below 199.4 ºF (93 ºC). Flammable liquids are divided into four categories as follows:
Category 1 shall include liquids having flashpoints below 73.4 ºF (23 ºC) and having a boiling point at or below 95 ºF (35 ºC).
Category 2 shall include liquids having flashpoints below 73.4 ºF (23 ºC) and having a boiling point above 95 ºF (35 ºC).
Category 3 shall include liquids having flashpoints at or above 73.4 ºF (23 ºC) and at or below 140 ºF (60 ºC).
Category 4 shall include liquids having flashpoints above 140 ºF (60 ºC) and at or below 199.4 ºF (93 ºC).
- Flash point of the liquid means the temperature at which it gives off vapor sufficient to form an ignitable mixture with the air near the surface of the liquid or within the vessel used as determined by appropriate test procedure and apparatus as specified below.
The flashpoint of liquids having a viscosity less than 45 Saybolt Universal Second(s) at 100 ºF (37.8 ºC) and a flashpoint below 175 ºF (79.4 ºC) shall be determined in accordance with the Standard Method of Test for Flash Point by the Tag Closed Tester, ASTM D-56-69 (incorporated by reference; See § 1926.6), or an equivalent method as defined by § 1910.1200 appendix B.
The flashpoints of liquids having a viscosity of 45 Saybolt Universal Second(s) or more at 175 ºF (79.4 ºC) or higher shall be determined in accordance with the Standard Method of Test for Flash Point by the Pensky Martens Closed Tester, ASTM D-93-69 (incorporated by reference; See § 1926.6), or an equivalent method as defined by § 1910.1200 appendix B.
- Liquefied petroleum gases, LPG and LP Gas mean and include any material which is composed predominantly of any of the following hydrocarbons, or mixtures of them, such as propane, propylene, butane (normal butane or iso-butane), and butylenes.
- Portable tank means a closed container having a liquid capacity more than 60 U.S. gallons, and not intended for fixed installation.
- Safety canis an approved closed container, of not more than 5 gallons capacity, having a flash-arresting screen, spring-closing lid and spout cover and so designed that it will safely relieve internal pressure when subjected to fire exposure.
- Vapor pressure means the pressure, measured in pounds per square inch (absolute), exerted by a volatile liquid as determined by the “Standard Method of Test for Vapor Pressure of Petroleum Products (Reid Method).” (ASTM D-323-58).
Note about Liquefied Petroleum Gas:
Liquefied petroleum gas ( LP gas ) is used widely in the construction industry to heat torches and other equipment. Because LP gas is a compressed gas, fairly large quantities can be stored in relatively small containers. As a point of reference, LP gas expands at a ratio of 270 to 1. This means that one liquid drop of LP gas would expand to a gas state 270 times greater in volume.
LP gas collects in low-lying areas because its vapor density is heavier than air. Employees should be warned that if they suspect a leak in a cylinder, they must not use fire to attempt to find the hole. Instead, they are to use soapy water and look for bubbles emitting from any holes in the cylinder.
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