According to the fire experts, tens of thousands of fires break out at industrial and manufacturing properties yearly. Fire is a particular concern for smaller manufacturers, who are very vulnerable to serious operations disruptions or even business closure if a fire occurs. Due to smaller companies’ compact footprints, fires tend to affect a larger percentage of the business’s total operations area. Further, with limited personnel wearing many hats, even basic fire safety can be overlooked. 

Paul Davis urges small manufacturers to address eight common threats to fire safety: 

Failure to control dust: Dust – even generated by non-combustible materials or foodstuffs like wheat – can be highly explosive. Dust densities rise quickly in compact spaces. Dust control systems are a must to control this fire hazard.

No SOPs for hot work: Employees engaged in hot work – even relatively low-temperature tasks like ironing fabric or applying hot glue – must follow strict standard operating procedures to ensure fire safety.  

Improper flammable liquid storage: National occupational safety bodies specify proper storage techniques for flammable liquids. Ensure your facility carefully follows these requirements, even for small amounts of common liquids like gasoline for the mower that maintenance uses to cut the grass. 

Lack of electrical capacity: Frequently, small manufacturers outgrow the electrical capacity installed when operations were more limited. Call the electrician to make sure your circuits are properly sized for current operations.

Expired or missing fire extinguishers: Fire marshals point to this as one of the most frequent fire safety violations they encounter. Ensure these critical safety devices are properly spaced and maintained.

Lack of training: This is another frequent violation. Ensure everyone on the premises is trained in fire safety, fire extinguisher use and evacuation plans.

Clutter: Packaging clutter, trash accumulation, “temporarily” stored items blocking fire escapes and fire doors – these are all serious fire hazards. Good housekeeping and adequate storage help address this risk.

Failure to follow fire codes: Local, state and national fire codes are specifically designed to reduce fire risks to your business type, facility design and number of occupants. Make sure your company knows the applicable regulations and carefully follows them.

“Another thing that small manufacturers may forget or don’t have the resources to do is pre-planning for property damage, including damage by fire. Having an Emergency Preparedness Plan and keeping it up to date can be an important tool in mitigating damage and downtime. Paul Davis can help with that at no cost to you”, says Pam de Boer, Continuing Education Director at Paul Davis.

Need advice about how to fight fire risks at your small manufacturing business? Contact your local Paul Davis office today.