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Fire Safety

10   Introduction
20   Flammable and Combustible Materials
30   Fire Extinguishers
40   Fire Safety Inspections/Housekeeping Procedures
50   Emergency Egress
60   Occupant Emergency Plan and Persons with Disabilities
70   Emergencies involving Fire

10 Introduction

The Occupational Health and Fire Safety branch of the Public Safety Department, administers the Hope College fire prevention and life safety inspection programs.

Fire prevention measures propose to reduce the incidence of fires by eliminating opportunities for ignition of flammable materials.

20 Flammable and Combustible Materials

  1. Substitution

    Flammable liquids sometimes may be substituted by relatively safe materials in order to reduce the risk of fires. Any substituted material should be stable and nontoxic and should either be nonflammable or have a high flashpoint.

  2. Storage

    Flammable and combustible liquids require careful handling at all times. The proper storage of flammable liquids within a work area is very important in order to protect personnel from fire and other safety and health hazards.

    1. Cabinets

      Not more than 120 gallons of Class I, Class II, and Class IIIA liquids may be stored in a storage cabinet. Of this total, not more than 60 gallons may be Class I and II liquids. Not more than three such cabinets (120 gallons each) may be located in a single fire area except in an industrial area.

      Table 1. Maximum allowable capacity of containers and portable tanks


      Flammable Liquids

      Combustible Liquids







      Glass or approved plastic1

      1 pt2

      1 qt2

      1 gal

      1 gal

      1 ga

      Metal (Other than DOT drums)

      1 gal


      5 gal

      5 gal

      5 gal

      5 gal

      Safety Cans

      2 gal


      5 gal

      5 gal

      5 gal

      5 gal

      Metal drums (DOT specifications)

      60 gal


      60 gal

      60 gal

      60 gal

      60 gal

      Approved portable tanks

      660 gal

      660 gal

      660 gal

      660 gal

      660 gal

      (1) Nearest metric size is also acceptable for the glass and plastic
      (2) One gallon or nearest metric equivalent size may be used if metal and labeled
           with their contents.

    2. Containers

      The capacity of flammable and combustible liquid containers will be in accordance with Table 1.

    3. Storage Inside Buildings.

      Where approved storage cabinets or rooms are not provided, inside storage will comply with the following basic conditions:

      1. The storage of any flammable or combustible liquid shall not physically obstruct a means of egress from the building or area.

      2. Containers of flammable or combustible liquids will remain tightly sealed except when transferred, poured or applied. Remove only that portion of liquid in the storage container required to accomplish a particular job.

      3. If a flammable and combustible liquid storage building is used, it will be a one-story building devoted principally to the handling and storing of flammable or combustible liquids. The building will have 2-hour fire-rated exterior walls having no opening within 10 feet of such storage.

      4. Flammable paints, oils, and varnishes in 1 or 5 gallon containers, used for building maintenance purposes, may be stored temporarily in closed containers outside approved storage cabinets or room if kept at the job site for less than 10 calendar days.

  3. Ventilation

    Every inside storage room will be provided with a continuous mechanical exhaust ventilation system. To prevent the accumulation of vapors, the location of both the makeup and exhaust air openings will be arranged to provide, as far as practical, air movement directly to the exterior of the building and if ducts are used, they will not be used for any other purpose.

  4. Elimination of Ignition Sources

    All nonessential ignition sources must be eliminated where flammable liquids are used or stored. The following is a list of some of the more common potential ignition sources:

    Open flames, such as cutting and welding torches, furnaces, matches, and heaters-these sources should be kept away from flammable liquids operations. Cutting or welding on flammable liquids equipment should not be performed unless the equipment has been properly emptied and purged with a neutral gas such as nitrogen.

    Chemical sources of ignition such as d.c. motors, switched, and circuit breakers-these sources should be eliminated where flammable liquids are handled or stored. Only approved explosion-proof devices should be used in these areas.

    Mechanical sparks-these sparks can be produced as a result of friction. Only nonsparking tools should be used in areas where flammable liquids are stored or handled.

    Static sparks-these sparks can be generated as a result of electron transfer between two contacting surfaces. The electrons can discharge in a small volume, raising the temperature to above the ignition temperature. Every effort should be made to eliminate the possibility of static sparks. Also proper bonding and grounding procedures must be followed when flammable liquids are transferred or transported.

  5. Removal of Incompatibles

    Materials that can contribute to a flammable liquid fire should not be stored with flammable liquids. Examples are oxidizers and organic peroxides, which, on decomposition, can generate large amounts of oxygen.

  6. Flammable Gases

    Generally, flammable gases pose the same type of fire hazards as flammable liquids and their vapors. Many of the safeguards for flammable liquids also apply to flammable gases, other properties such as toxicity, reactivity, and corrosivity also must be taken into account. Also, a gas that is flammable could produce toxic combustion products.

30 Fire Extinguishers

A portable fire extinguisher is a "first aid" device and is very effective when used while the fire is small. The use of fire extinguisher that matches the class of fire, by a person who is well trained, can save both lives and property. Portable fire extinguishers must be installed in workplaces regardless of other firefighting measures. The successful performance of a fire extinguisher in a fire situation largely depends on its proper selection, inspection, maintenance, and distribution.

  1. Classification of Fires and Selection of Extinguishers

    Fires are classified into four general categories depending on the type of material or fuel involved. The type of fire determines the type of extinguisher that should be used to extinguish it.

    1. Class A fires involve materials such as wood, paper, and cloth which produce glowing embers or char.

    2. Class B fires involve flammable gases, liquids, and greases, including gasoline and most hydrocarbon liquids which must be vaporized for combustion to occur.

    3. Class C fires involve fires in live electrical equipment or in materials near electrically powered equipment.

    4. Class D fires involve combustible metals, such as magnesium, zirconium, potassium, and sodium.

    Extinguishers will be selected according to the potential fire hazard, the construction and occupancy of facilities, hazard to be protected, and other factors pertinent to the situation.

  2. Location and Marking of Extinguishers

    Extinguishers will be conspicuously located and readily accessible for immediate use in the event of fire. They will be located along normal paths of travel and egress. Wall recesses and/or flush-mounted cabinets will be used as extinguisher locations whenever possible.

    Extinguishers will be clearly visible. In locations where visual obstruction cannot be completely avoided, directional arrows will be provided to indicate the location of extinguishers and the arrows will be marked with the extinguisher classification.

    If extinguishers intended for different classes of fire are located together, they will be conspicuously marked to ensure that the proper class extinguisher selection is made at the time of a fire. Extinguisher classification markings will be located on the front of the shell above or below the extinguisher nameplate. Markings will be of a size and form to be legible from a distance of 3 feet.

  3. Condition

    Portable extinguishers will be maintained in a fully charged and operable condition. They will be kept in their designated locations at all times when not being used. When extinguishers are removed for maintenance or testing, a fully charged and operable replacement unit will be provided.

  4. Mounting and Distribution of Extinguishers

    Extinguishers will be installed on hangers, brackets, in cabinets, or on shelves. Extinguishers having a gross weight not exceeding 40 pounds will be so installed that the top of the extinguisher is not more than 3-1/2 feet above the floor.

    Extinguishers mounted in cabinets or wall recesses or set on shelves will be placed so that the extinguisher operating instructions face outward. The location of such extinguishers will be made conspicuous by marking the cabinet or wall recess in a contrasting color which will distinguish it from the normal decor.

    Extinguishers must be distributed in such a way that the amount of time needed to travel to their location and back to the fire does not allow the fire to get out of control. OSHA requires that the travel distance for Class A and Class D extinguishers not exceed 75 feet. The maximum travel distance for Class B extinguishers is 50 feet because flammable liquid fires can get out of control faster that Class A fires. There is no maximum travel distance specified for Class C extinguishers, but they must be distributed on the basis of appropriate patterns for Class A and B hazards.

  5. Inspection and Maintenance

    Once an extinguisher is selected, purchased, and installed, it is the responsibility of the Occupational Health and Safety to oversee the inspection, maintenance, and testing of fire extinguishers to ensure that they are in proper working condition and have not been tampered with or physically damaged.

40 Fire Safety Inspections/Housekeeping

First line supervisors and Safety Committees are responsible for conducting work site surveys at least annually. These surveys should include observations of worksite safety and housekeeping issues and should specifically address proper storage of chemicals and supplies, unobstructed access to fire extinguishers, and emergency evacuation routes. Also, they should determine if an emergency evacuation plan is present in work areas and that personnel are familiar with the plan.

50 Emergency Egress

Every exit will be clearly visible, or the route to it conspicuously identified in such a manner that every occupant of the building will readily know the direction of escape from any point. At no time will exits be blocked.

Any doorway or passageway which is not an exit or access to an exit but which may be mistaken for an exit, will be identified by a sign reading "Not An Exit" or a sign indicating it actual use (i.e., "Storeroom"). Exits and accesses to exits will be marked by a readily visible sign. Each exit sign (other than internally illuminated signs) will be illuminated by a reliable light source providing not less than 5 foot-candles on the illuminated surface.

60 Occupant Emergency Plan for Persons with Disabilities

The first line supervisor is assigned the responsibility to assist Persons with Disabilities under their supervision. An alternate assistant will be chosen by the supervisor. The role of the two assistants is to report to their assigned person, and to either assist in evacuation or assure that the PWD isremoved from danger.

Visitors who have disabilities will be assisted in a manner similar to that of Hope College employees. The Host of the person with disabilities will assist in their evacuation.

70 Emergencies involving Fire

  1. Fire Alarms

    In the event of a fire emergency, a fire alarm will sound for the building.

  2. Evacuation Routes and Plans

    Each facility shall have an emergency evacuation plan. All emergency exits shall conform to NFPA standards.

    Should evacuation be necessary, go to the nearest exit or stairway and proceed to an area of refuge outside the building. Most stairways are fire resistant and present barriers to smoke if the doors are kept closed.

    Do not use elevators. Should the fire involve the control panel of the elevator or the electrical system of the building, power in the building may be cut and you could be trapped between floors. Also, the elevator shaft can become a flue, lending itself to the passage and accumulation of hot gases and smoke generated by the fire.

  3. Emergency Coordinators and Supervisors

    Emergency Coordinators and/or Supervisors will be responsible for verifying personnel have evacuated from their assigned areas.

    Fire Emergency Procedures

    If you discover a fire:

    1. Activate the nearest fire alarm.
    2. Notify the fire department by dialing 911 or 8-911 on centrex lines. Give your location, the nature of the fire, and your name.
    3. Notify your Emergency Coordinator and/or supervisor and other occupants.

    Fight the fire ONLY if:

    1. The fire department has been notified of the fire, AND
    2. The fire is small and confined to its area of origin, AND
    3. You have a way out and can fight the fire with your back to the exit, AND
    4. You have the proper extinguisher, in good working order, AND know how to use it.
      If your are not sure of your ability or the fire extinguisher's capacity to contain the fire, leave the area.

    If you hear a fire alarm:

    1. Evacuate the area. Close windows and close doors as you leave.

    2. Leave the building and move away from exits and out of the way of emergency operations.

    3. Assemble in a designated area outside the building.

    4. Report to the monitor so he/she can determine that all personnel have evacuated your area.

    5. Remain outside until competent authority (Public Safety Officer, Office of Health and Safety, or your supervisor) states that it is safe to re-enter.

    Evacuation Routes

    1. Learn at least two excape routes, and emergency exits from your area.
    2. Never use an elevator as part of your excape route.
    3. Learn to activate a fire alarm.
    4. Learn to recognize alarm sounds.

Health and Fire Safety Manual

Office of Occupational Health and Fire Safety, Hope College, 295 East 13th Street, Holland, MI 49423

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