Increased storage of flammable products

Are you storing increased flammable products due to demand relating to COVID-19?

The presence of large amounts of flammables in a premises means that a fire involving the flammables will grow quicker. This in turn means that you have less time to get out of the area. As such, you should look to introduce measures which provide faster warning of fire, shorten the time it takes to get out, and to increase the time available to get out. These may include:

  • Store the product in a store room where no-one works.

  • If there is only 1 way out of the store room make sure you can get to a fire door leading to a separate area within 9 metres from the furthest point of the room; if there are 2 ways out make sure you can get to the nearest fire door within 18 metres.

  • Store the product in a room with a self-closing fire door to contain a fire within that room.

  • Flammables should not be stored in the access room to an inner room. An inner room is a room where you have to go through an access room to get out.

  • Have any holes in the walls or ceilings of the store room filled with fire stopping materials to contain a fire.

  • Keep the product away from any combustible materials such as paper, plastic, cardboard, fabrics.

  • Keep the product away from any ignition sources such as electrical equipment.

  • Watch out for spills and clean up spills straight away if they occur.

  • Store the product in small separated stacks rather than one big stack.

  • Management should carry out regular checks of storage conditions.

  • Store the product in a room with fire detectors on the ceiling to provide a warning of fire quickly, thereby allowing people to start moving quickly.

  • Provide a suitable fire extinguisher in the area such as a ‘class B’ foam extinguisher.

  • Make sure staff are aware of the situation, instruct them to move immediately if they are warned of fire and do a drill to practice this.

  • Put a flammables sign on door to the store room to tell fire fighters that the room contains stores of flammables. If you have a zone plan by the fire alarm, mark this with the locations of flammables.

  • If there is a fire involving flammables tell the 999 operator so that the crews can be warned on the way to the fire. 

Legally your fire risk assessor will also need to review the fire risk assessment in light of the presence of flammables. Fire safety legislation states ….  “where there are dangerous substances in the premises, certain matters must be considered in the fire risk assessment. These matters are as follows, and it is advisable to use this list as a template for inclusion in your risk assessment:

1. the hazardous properties of the substance;

2. information on safety provided by the supplier, including information contained in any relevant safety data sheet;

3. the circumstances of the work including -

a)       the special, technical and organisational measures and the substances used and their possible interactions;
b)      the amount of the substance involved;
c)       where the work will involve more than one dangerous substance, the risk presented by such substances in combination;
d)      activities, such as maintenance, where there is the potential for a high level of risk;

4. the effect of measures which have been or will be taken pursuant to this Order;

5. the likelihood that an explosive atmosphere will occur and its persistence;

6. the likelihood that ignition sources, including electrostatic discharges, will be present and become active and effective;

7. the scale of the anticipated effects;

8. any places which are, or can be connected via openings to, places in which explosive atmospheres may occur; and

9. such additional safety information as the responsible person may need in order to complete the assessment.

Where the fire risk assessment identifies any further necessary control measures these would need to be implemented straight away. 

The Health and Safety Executive also enforce legislation concerning the storage of flammable liquids. A free guide on the storage of flammables in containers up to 1000 litres can be downloaded here: Guide to storage of flammables (opens in new window)