Kevin Ian Schmidt

Fire Prevention Plans – In-depth

An important reason to have a Fire Prevention Plan (FPP) is to identify and mitigate the causes of fire, prevent loss of life, and prevent loss of property caused by fire. The FPP should be developed to comply with the OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.39, Fire Prevention Plans.

A quality FPP does the following:

  • Provides employees with information and guidelines that will assist them in recognizing, reporting, and controlling fire hazards.
  • Identifies materials that are potential fire hazards and their proper handling and storage procedures.
  • Distinguishes potential ignition sources and the proper control procedures of those materials.
  • The plan describes fire protection equipment and/or systems used to control fire hazards.
  • Identifies persons responsible for maintaining the equipment and systems installed to prevent or control ignition of fires.
  • The FPP identifies persons responsible for the control and accumulation of flammable or combustible material.
  • Describes good housekeeping procedures necessary to insure the control of accumulated flammable and combustible waste material and residues to avoid a fire emergency.
  • The plan provides training to employees with regard to fire hazards to which they may be exposed.

Fire safety is every employee’s responsibility. All employees should know how to prevent and respond to fires, and are responsible for adhering to company policy regarding fire emergencies.

Management: Management determines fire prevention and protection policies. They should do the following:

  • Managers should provide adequate hazard controls to provide a safe workplace.
  • Managers should also provide adequate resources and training to employees to encourage fire prevention and the safest possible response in the event of a fire emergency.

Plan Administrator: This person maintains all records pertaining to the plan. The Plan Administrator should also:

  • Develop and administer the fire prevention training program.
  • Ensure that fire control equipment and systems are appropriate and properly maintained.
  • Control fuel source hazards in the workplace.
  • Conduct fire risk surveys and make recommendations for improvement.

Supervisors: Supervisors ensure that employees receive appropriate fire safety training.

  • Supervisors should notify the plan administrator when changes in operation increase the risk of fire.
  • They are also responsible for enforcing fire prevention and protection policies.

Employees: All employees should complete all required training before working without supervision. It’s important that employees also:

  • Conduct operations safely to limit the risk of fire.
  • Report potential fire hazards to their supervisors.
  • Follow fire emergency procedures.

Like an emergency action plan a fire prevention plan must be in writing, be kept in the workplace, and be made available to employees for review. However, according to OSHA, just like an emergency action plan if you have 10 or fewer employees you may communicate the plan orally to employees.

At a minimum, your fire prevention plan must include:

  • A list of all major fire hazards, proper handling and storage procedures for hazardous materials, potential ignition sources and their control, and the type of fire protection equipment necessary to control each major hazard;
  • Procedures to control accumulations of flammable and combustible waste materials;
  • Procedures for regular maintenance of safeguards installed on heat-producing equipment to prevent the accidental ignition of combustible materials;
  • The name or job title of employees responsible for maintaining equipment to prevent or control sources of ignition or fires; and
  • The name or job title of employees responsible for the control of fuel source hazards.

An employer must inform employees upon initial assignment to a job of the fire hazards to which they are exposed. An employer must also review with each employee those parts of the fire prevention plan necessary for self-protection.

Fire Causing Hazards

Electrical Hazards: Electrical system failures and the misuse of electrical equipment are leading causes of workplace fires. Fires can result from loose ground connections, wiring with frayed insulation, or overloaded fuses, circuits, motors, or outlets.

Portable Heaters: All portable heaters should be approved by the plan administrator. Portable electric heaters should have tip-over protection that automatically shuts off the unit when it is tipped over.

Office Fires Hazards: Fire risks are not limited to industrial facilities. Fires in offices have become more likely because of the increased use of electrical equipment, such as computers.

Welding, Cutting, and Open Flame Work: Welding and cutting and working with open flames are obvious fire hazards in the workplace, and in some cases fire watches need to be positioned close by, and barriers may need to be placed between welding and materials that might catch fire.

Flammable and Combustible Materials: If your workplace contains flammable and combustible materials, the plan administrator should regularly evaluate the presence of those materials.

  • Class A Combustibles: These include common combustible materials (wood, paper, cloth, rubber, and plastics) that can act as fuel and are found in non-specialized areas such as offices.
  • Class B Combustibles: These include flammable and combustible liquids (oils, greases, tars, oil-based paints, and lacquers), flammable gases, and flammable aerosols.

Smoking in the Workplace: In an effective FPP, smoking is prohibited in all company buildings. Certain outdoor areas may also be designated as no smoking areas. The areas in which smoking is prohibited outdoors should be identified by NO SMOKING signs.

Fire Extinguishing Systems

A fire extinguishing system is an engineered set of components that work together to quickly detect a fire, alert occupants, and extinguish the fire before extensive damage can occur. All system components must be:

  • Designed and approved for use on the specific fire hazards they are expected to control or extinguish.
  • Protected against corrosion or either made or coated with a non-corrosive material if it may be exposed to a corrosive environment.
  • Designed for the climate and temperature extremes to which they will be exposed.

Fixed Extinguishing Systems: Fixed fire extinguishing/suppression systems are commonly used to protect areas containing valuable or critical equipment such as data processing rooms, telecommunication switches, and process control rooms. Their main function is to quickly extinguish a developing fire and alert occupants before extensive damage occurs by filling the protected area with a gas or chemical extinguishing agent.

Portable Extinguishing Systems: Workplace fires and explosions kill hundreds and injure thousands of workers each year. One way to limit the amount of damage due to such fires is to make portable fire extinguishers an important part of your FPP. When used properly, fire extinguishers can save lives and property by putting out a small fire or controlling a fire until additional help arrives.


How to Use a Fire Extinguisher

Even though extinguishers come in a number of shapes and sizes, they all operate in a similar manner.¬†¬†Here’s an easy acronym for fire extinguisher use:

Pull the pin at the top of the extinguisher that keeps the handle from being accidentally pressed.

Aim the nozzle toward the base of the fire.

Squeeze the handle to discharge the extinguisher. Position yourself approximately 8 feet away from the fire. If you release the handle, the discharge will stop.

Sweep the nozzle back and forth at the base of the fire. After the fire appears to be out, watch it carefully since it may re-ignite!

Make sure all employees who are expected to use fire extinguishers if a controllable fire occurs are properly trained with hands-on practice. There’s no OSHA requirement to actually extinguish a fire or discharge a fire extinguisher during training. However, each employee should handle the fire extinguisher and demonstrate they can perform the PASS steps.

Check out Fire Extinguisher Basics

This video explains how to use a fire extinguisher

P.A.S.S. – Using a Fire Extinguisher from Washington Township on Vimeo.

Training Requirements

Employers should train workers about fire hazards in the workplace and about what to do in a fire emergency.

Management Training Responsibilities. Unless a specific manager is designated, all managers should be responsible for coordinating with the Plan Administrator for training all employees covered under the FPP.

  • All managers should be educated to understand their FPP responsibilities including inspection and drill procedures.
  • Managers should also make sure all employees who might be expected to use portable fire extinguishers are properly trained.
  • Supervisors should train employees about the fire hazards associated with the specific materials and processes to which they are exposed, and maintain written documentation of the training.

Many of the topics taught in the FPP training may be presented in the classroom. If employees are expected to use portable fire extinguishers, they must participate in “hands-on” exercises that help them understand the procedures. Hands-on training also gives employees an opportunity to demonstrate to trainers that they have the skills required to use fire extinguishers.

At a minimum, FPP Training should include all of the following topics:

  • review OSHA requirements contained in 29 CFR 1910.38, Emergency Action Plans,
  • review OSHA requirements contained in 29 CFR 1910.39, Fire Prevention Plans,
  • person(s) responsible for Control of Fuel Source Hazards,
  • the location of the company FPP and how it can be accessed,
  • good fire-prevention housekeeping practices and equipment maintenance,
  • alarm systems and evacuation routes,
  • proper response and notification in the event of a fire,
  • the use of portable fire extinguishers, and
  • recognition of potential fire hazards.


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