Many firms with commercial motor vehicles have in-house repair shops which may engage in anything from light repair work to full frame-up overhauls. Risk of fire and loss may increase depending on the nature of repair work done. Loss of the shop may result in the additional loss of any vehicles in or around the shop. A major shop fire could truly test business continuity.
Here are a few tips to avoid risk of fire in your truck repair shop.
Perform a Waste Audit
What types of waste are produced by the shop?
Is the waste hazardous?
Are refrigerants, solvents, batteries, used oil and antifreeze recycled?
Does the shop use a reputable recycling company for assistance in its waste stream?
Is hazardous waste kept separate in properly labeled and sealed containers?
Is the waste storage area secure from the elements (rain, snow, standing water) and unauthorized personnel?
Are written records kept of any waste stored on property?
Is hazardous waste transported by a licensed hazardous waste hauler and properly disposed?
Are waste manifests and documentation kept for at least three years?
Properly Store any Flammable and Combustible Liquids
For small quantities (containers under 5 gallons U.S.) does the shop have an approved flammable liquids storage cabinet (designed to meet the requirements of National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 30, Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code)?
Does the shop have a policy limiting the storage and quantity of flammable liquids used and stored inside buildings?
Does any outdoor flammable liquids storage meet the requirements of NFPA 30?
Properly Store any Compressed Gases
- Are areas posted where gases are present?
- Are cylinders inspected (1.) Upon delivery (visual) (2.) Per manufactures’ recommendations thereafter?
- Are cylinders examined as soon as you receive them? If you detect signs of damage or leakage, move them to a safe, isolated area and return them to the supplier as soon as possible.
- Are gases grouped and kept separate from combustibles?
- Are cylinders stored upright with the steel protective cap screwed on?
- Are full and empty cylinders kept apart when stored?
- Are cylinders secured with chains or cables (to keep cylinders from falling over)?
- Are cylinders stored in dry, well-ventilated areas away from exits and stairways?
- If storing compressed gas cylinders outside, are cylinders stored off the ground and out of extremely hot or cold environments?
- Are compressed gas containers stored away from high pedestrian and vehicle traffic areas? (Containers are more likely to be damaged there.)
- Are oxygen cylinders stored at least 20 feet from flammables or combustibles (or separated them by a 5- foot, fire-resistant barrier)?
- Are oil and grease kept away from oxygen cylinders, valves and hoses?
- If hands, gloves or clothing are oily, is there a written policy in place to not handle oxygen cylinders?
- Are fire extinguishers near the storage area, appropriate for gases stored there?
Some Gas Cylinder Do’s and Don’ts
• Do not tamper with connections and do not force connections together.
• Do not hammer valves open or closed.
• Do not drop, bang, slide, clank or roll cylinders.
• Cylinders may only be rolled along the bottom rim.
• Do not let cylinders fall or have things fall on them.
• Do not lift a cylinder by its cap unless using hand trucks so designed.
• Use carts or other material handling equipment to move cylinders. Use ropes and chains to move a cylinder only if the cylinder has special lugs to accommodate this.
• Keep cylinders secured and upright. (But never secure cylinders to conduit carrying electrical wiring.)
• When transporting compressed gas cylinders, be sure the vehicle is adequately equipped to haul compressed gases safely. (Do not haul compressed flammable gases within a van, inside a car, or in the cab of a vehicle).
• Know accident procedures.
Empty Gas Cylinders
When empty, close and return cylinders. Empty cylinders must be marked with the word EMPTY or letters MT. Empty acetylene cylinders must be so labeled. Be sure valves are closed when not using the container and before returning containers. Properly label returning containers.
Are fire extinguishers placed near all doorways and exits and/or to local fire codes?
Are fire extinguishers periodically inspected and serviced?
Are staff trained in use of fire extinguishers?
Ensure that access to fire extinguishers is not blocked or obstructed by any object or materials.
Other Shop Tasks
Is the shop floor swept daily and clear of combustibles?
Are shop rags placed in a fire-resistant container?
Are cleaning solvents secured when not in use?
Are any spills immediately cleaned up?
“Hot Work” (Electric or Gas Welding, Cutting, and Brazing or similar Flame Producing operations, and Grinding)
Is there a written hot work policy?
Does the hot work policy prohibit hot work in or on a tank or container unless it is properly vented?
Does the hot work policy prohibit hot work in or on any vessel, tank or container which
carries or has carried flammable materials, liquids or gases until the container
has been cleaned and tested and declared safe for “hot work” by the job safety
Are appropriate ventilating devices before and during hot work? (Opening a shop door will not provide proper ventilation in most cases.)
Hot Work Do’s and Don’ts
Never strike an arc on a compressed gas cylinder.
Always wear the appropriate type of PPE for the welding or cutting, including proper PPE and eyewear for infrared or ultraviolet radiation, depending on the process being employed.
Always wear protective ear equipment as appropriate. Protection which covers
the entire ear is recommended.
Is smoking prohibited near flammables and allowed in designated areas only?
No smoking signs should posted in all areas of the building or facility.
Other Fire Prevention Steps
Automatic sprinklers, fire suppression systems, smoke and fire detectors, etc., will help protect the facility and may result in reduced insurance premiums.
To Learn More . . .
For further protection of your truck repair shop, I strongly recommend obtaining a copy of your local building fire code and becoming familiar with National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) code.
Thank you for reading this.