On-site equipment fueling presents a significant fire hazard, however fire potential can be minimized with proper training of prevention, firefighting procedures, and emergency evacuation. According to CAL Fire’s 2019 incident archive, 732 structures were damaged or destroyed due to a fire. If hazards on a jobsite are not properly maintained, a fire could break out and cause detrimental damage to the property and your employees.
The best measure of fighting a fire is to prevent one from happening. It is important to thoroughly train employees on prevention to increase their awareness of a hazard if they ever come across one. This includes making sure fire protection equipment such as extinguishers are being inspected regularly and establishing the responsibility to maintain and control fueling operations such as:
- Flammability of different fuels
- Design and location of on-site fuel suppliers
- Tank inspection designed to meet a nationally recognized standard
- Separation of the fueling facility and operation from ignition exposures
- Grounding and bonding procedures when handling fuel
- Methods for clean-up and disposal of fuel
Even when safety measures are followed, accidents may still happen, and it is important to have the correct equipment, as well as knowledge on how to use it, to extinguish a fire. Training in the use of fire extinguishers, which must be available on each piece of equipment, is imperative for all employees, as well as making sure there is a water source and hose readily available to use. Different areas of a jobsite may have different equipment depending on the situation. For example, a fuel tank being used to provide diesel for dozers and excavators will need to have a Class B fire extinguisher, or water and an appropriate foam system in place. Having the correct equipment on-site will ensure you will always be ready to combat a fire.
It does not take long for a fire to grow or spread to other areas of the jobsite. If you have any doubt about your ability to quickly and safely extinguish the fire, you should immediately evacuate. Planning ahead is crucial. Make sure the evacuation plan is in the employee safety manual and perform drills occasionally. Everyone on-site should know the evacuation plan, which includes:
- Action upon discovering a fire
- Locations of escape routes
- Moving heavy equipment and vehicles as far away as possible
- Calling 911
- Location of designated meeting space for roll call