Fire Safety in Auto Repair and Manufacturing—Three Often Overlooked Areas

Fire is one of the leading causes of death in the workplace, and according to Acuity Insurance, one of the most common claims. Paint, volatile chemicals, electrical equipment, flammable liquids, gas cylinders and many other hazards make auto repair shops and many manufacturing facilities highly vulnerable to fires.

We recently shared 8 Fire Prevention Tips, which include training, storage and having a written emergency action and fire prevention plan in place. Following these best practices can make a tremendous difference for fire safety in auto repair and manufacturing facilities. However, if a fire does break out, your fire safety equipment is the first line of defense. This equipment is critical in preventing the spread of fire and protecting your business and your employees.

Equipment for Fire Safety in Auto Repair and Manufacturing

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) mandates inspections and testing for fire safety equipment throughout your facility, including suppression systems, alarms, and fire extinguishers. These inspections should take place through a qualified vendor, and the auto repair or manufacturing facility should retain a copy of the inspection report. In auto repair and manufacturing facilities, fire extinguishers typically get the most attention as they are the most obvious and the most used. NFPA 10 states that fire extinguishers must be subjected to yearly maintenance and have a tag or label securely attached that indicates when the maintenance was performed, as well as the person and company who performed it.

Fire extinguishers, however, are only one of many pieces of equipment that require frequent upkeep and inspections to ensure fire safety in auto repair and manufacturing facilities. In a fast-paced business environment, this testing and fire-safety record keeping can fall through the cracks. When it does, a facility may only receive a fine after a failed fire inspection. But, in the worst case, a facility may experience equipment failure when that equipment is needed most. To create a safer environment, don’t forget to pay attention to these three commonly overlooked areas:

  1. Spray Booth Fire Suppression Systems—NFPA 15 and NFPA 17
    Fire extinguishers assist, but for spray booths they’re not enough. In these areas, fixed water spray systems or dry chemical systems are crucial. NFPA 15 covers the installation requirements for fixed water systems, along with NFPA 25 which outlines periodic testing requirements. The installation and maintenance of dry chemical systems is covered in NFPA 17. Be sure your vendor inspects all your fire suppression systems, whether water spray or dry chemical, on a regular basis. The vendor should also supply you with an in-depth report based on the NFPA requirements and the requirements of the county in which your business resides.
  2. Fire Riser—NFPA 25
    A fire riser is a key component of the fire suppression system in your facility; it supplies the water for the sprinkler system. In short, it is a pipe connected to a pressurized water source, which consists of gauges, valves, and alarm devices. Fire risers typically have a water flow switch that will activate the fire alarm system when a sprinkler head detects heat. Fire riser standards are covered under NFPA 25. In addition to maintaining up-to-date inspection reports, signage is extremely important. There have been many cases where facilities were fined because the risers didn’t have the proper signage or were missing a sign. Though it may seem minor, these are critical in an emergency.
  3. Fire Alarms—NFPA 72
    Alarm systems are a third critical component of fire protection equipment that auto repair and manufacturing facilities must ensure are properly tested and documented. NFPA 72 outlines the requirements for fire alarms and other notification equipment, including control panels, initiating devices, and remote annunciators. Each should be inspected annually. In addition, sensitivity and function tests for smoke detection devices should be completed every two years.

Ensuring Your Facility Safety

Running a fast-paced auto repair or manufacturing business while ensuring the ongoing inspection and functionality of important fire safety equipment can often be overwhelming. Fortunately, GMG EnviroSafe helps ensure fire safety in auto repair and manufacturing locations. Rather than essential fire safety items fading into the background until an inspection or emergency creates a negative outcome, we help ensure you’re protected—filling in communication gaps, ensuring compliance, and creating a safer and more productive environment. Contact us for a personal assessment of your facility.