firefighters tackle blaze at warehouse

Warehouse fires have been a hot topic of conversation recently, with a large fire devastating a warehouse on White Hart Lane and residents being evacuated in North West London following a huge blaze in the same month.

Fortunately, in both cases, the blazes were controlled (by a total of 190 firefighters!) without any injuries.Warehouse fires are devastating for business, not only destroying stock and causing long downtime but also putting employees at risk. To help ensure fire is not a risk in your warehouse, take a look at our 5 step fire safety checklist.

Don’t Overload Your Racking

Not only can overloaded pallet racking cause damage to your system, it can also pose a serious fire hazard. With more stock to burn through in a condensed space, overloaded pallet racking can be the difference between controlling a fire and letting it spread to the rest of your warehouse.

Ensure that you stick to racking weight limits and don’t overload – instead, find ways to maximise space in your warehouse, invest in racking that is designed to make the most of your space and consider a mezzanine flooring system to create extra storage space.

Train Your Staff

Proper training of staff is key to making sure procedure works. Staff need to be aware of fire risks and how to control them, consider these steps to ensuring this:

  • Ensure all staff undertake at least a Level 1 Fire Safety course – this can be done online at any time. Designated fire marshals/wardens will be better equipped with a Level 2 Fire Safety award.
  • Implement a fire procedure - ensure your staff know where fire equipment such as extinguishers are located as well as having a clear evacuation plan in place. 
  • Ensure smoking shelters are located away from any flammable materials – properly signpost designated smoking areas to avoid confusion and make sure there is a place to safely dispose of cigarette ends.
  • Ensure employees are aware of the different materials they are handling, this will assist them in knowing which type of extinguisher to use in the event of a fire.
  • Display racking weight limit notices on all racking.

Assess Your Inventory and Equipment

In both warehouse fire incidents during September, gas cylinders were on site. Whilst it is not noted where these were stored – the chances of them catching would have been significantly reduced if they were stored off-site in a gas cylinder cage.

Assessing your inventory will not only help you reduce the risk of fire, but also assist firefighters should there be one. Take note of any high-risk areas where flammable material is stored in abundance; it’s worth having a special fire prevention procedure and additional safeguards (sprinkler system, fire extinguishers and sensitive alarms) for these areas.

In addition to your inventory, ensuring your machinery is properly maintained is essential for staying compliant and preventing fires. For any moving machinery, a mesh machine guard or cage can prevent physical injuries as well as offering protection against welding flare.

Mesh machine guard to protect against welding flare

Review Waste Removal Procedures

In 2016, a bin fire caused over $200,000 of damage to a warehouse in Toronto, how easy would this have been to prevent?

Having an abundance of rubbish stored in bins outside your site can make you a target for arsonists and vandals, follow these steps to ensuring rubbish doesn’t become a fire risk:

  • Keep rubbish bins and skips stored in a cordoned off area away from your main buildings. You may choose to install security lighting in these areas.
  • Keep them empty – reducing the amount of waste produced by your warehouse reduces the chances of a bin fire becoming unmanageable. Take a look at our latest blog to reduce waste in your warehouse.
  • Ensure you use specialist services for any batteries and electronics that need disposing of.
  • Try not to overfill bins and keep them securely shut.
  • Clean your premises regularly to ensure rubbish doesn’t build up.

Conduct An End Of Day Inspection

Before you lock up for the night, carry out an end of day inspection to ensure there is nothing that could cause a fire in the night – ask yourself these questions:

  1. Are the premises clear of any loose combustible materials?
  2. Is waste awaiting in disposal in a secure, secluded space?
  3. Are gas cylinders stored safely? (preferably away from the premises)
  4. Are fire doors, exits, equipment and notices unobstructed?
  5. Is every point of entry to the building and waste storage areas properly secured?
  6. Are all electronics switched off, including machinery that is not in use?
  7. Are all flammable liquids secured properly?

If your warehouse operates on a 24-hour basis, you may choose to carry out the end of day inspection between shift patterns. 

Talk To The Experts

What other measures do you have in place to prevent fires in your warehouse? We’d love to hear them. Don’t let it be a lack of space become a risk in your warehouse, give us a call on 0117 955 5211 to talk to one of our experts about space saving racking solutions and mezzanine flooring