October is Fire Prevention Month

Types of fire extinguishers

There are several types of fire extinguishers available in today’s market.  From water extinguishers to AFFF foam, CO2 or ABC Powder extinguishers.  AFFF foam extinguishers are primarily intended for class A and class B fires and the foam agent helps prevent re-ignition.  CO2 extinguishers were designed for flammable liquid fires and are rated for class B fires.  They are meant for use on electrical fires, because CO2 is not a conductor and does not leave any harmful residue behind.  ABC Powder extinguishers are the most versatile of the three and are rated for class A, B, and C fires.  They are available in a range of sizes and are ideal for fires that contain mixed fire risks.  However, because they are powder extinguishers, there is an inhalation risk when using them and are not intended for use in small rooms, homes, or offices.

Fire hazards in a wood shop

As you can imagine, a wood shop presents many fire hazards.  Standing dust is possibly the largest fire hazard.  Any buildup of standing dust with a spark would ignite instantly.  Another fire hazard we encounter on a daily basis is oily and combustible shop rags.  These rags are the byproduct of our finishing process.  They are used to stain or apply lacquer thinner.  It is important to take care that the soiled rags are placed in a fire safe container and disposed of by a proper waste management facility.

Without properly grounded equipment, you run the risk of static buildup, which is yet another fire hazard in a wood shop.  Static electricity increases the risk of spontaneous spark.  When equipment is grounded properly, it gives that current somewhere to go, making all of us safer.

How we counter those fire hazards – Our Plan

It is important to have a plan in place to prevent fires and ensure workers’ safety.  At DP Juza, we have a plan in place to do jus that.  First, we strive to identify and reduce the risks with a good preventative maintenance schedule, ensuring all flammables are kept in flammable lockers or containers, having great knowledge of our shop and the obstacles presented within.  Every employee is trained to identify those hazards, correct any flaws, and if necessary, a knowledge of fire extinguisher placement, operation, and chain of command within the shop.  Last, but not least, all are trained in our evacuation plan.

Notice all walkways are clearly marked and free and clear of debris and obstacles. Each fire extinguisher is unobstructed.

Fire Prevention in the Home

Fire prevention is not only important in the workplace, however.  It is also something that needs to be remembered in the home.  In a recent interview, Shell Lake Fire Chief Keith Dahlstrom provided answers to several commonly asked questions regarding fire prevention and safety in and around the home.

What is the leading cause of house fires in our area?

This varies throughout the year, but one of the most common causes, in general, mechanical failures.  Commonly, this can be due to lack of proper appliance care or maintenance, for example, an oven or dryer that hasn’t been cleaned on a regular basis.  Another common mechanical failure that commonly causes house fires is inadequate wiring.

What would you say are the most forgotten or overlooked fire hazard in a home?

Without a doubt, the most overlooked fire hazard is the use of power strips.  Often times, people buy lower quality power strips or overload their circuits with them – both are common causes of fires.

What would you include in a fire prevention plan for your family at home?

#1 make sure smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors have good bateries and are in good working order.  It is Wisconsin state law to have both items in place and functioning.

#2 make sure you have a meeting place, communicate that with each member of your family, and make sure everyone understands

#3 have fire extinguishers in the home and near the kitchen.  Store flammable liquids and LP tanks in a garage appropriately – not in the home.

Some people are afraid to call the fire department.  They don’t want to draw attention or inconvenience people.  So I’ve always wondered, when should I call the fire department?

Any time you think there is a need – call!  The fire department does not charge for service and don’t always come with lights and sirens, depending on the situation.  Another thing to keep in mind is if you smell any weird odors or if your CO detector goes off.  These can be clues that gas is present in your environment and the fire department may need to come to determine the cause.

What other services does the fire department provide?

To name a few, the fire department provides gas detection, auto extrication, they will sometimes accompany or arrive to calls with the ambulance/EMS, and we have first responders that respond as well.