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Keys to Managing Flammable Materials

hazmat, hazardous materials, NFPA

This is Chris Matt, Associate Editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today’s tip is properly managing flammable materials.

Flammable materials present a series of unique challenges for maintenance and engineering managers. But managers can follow these general guidelines for proper storage and handling of these materials.

The first step is to refer to the National Fire Protection Association, or NFPA, for proper storage requirements. The NFPA 30 document contains most mandates for storing flammables. In general, specially designed storage cabinets are available for storing no more than 120 gallons of Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3A flammable liquids.

These cabinets typically are constructed of 18-gauge sheet steel with a double wall, although wood cabinets that meet the requirements of NFPA 30 are permitted. The door should have a three-point latch and a sill raised to at least 2 inches above the bottom of the cabinet to contain spilled liquid within the cabinet.

When dispensing flammable and combustible liquids from a drum, NFPA recommends using an approved, hand-operated pump, drawing through the top. Technicians also can use an approved self-closing drum faucet for dispensing from a drum.

For handling small quantities of combustible liquids, technicians should use safety cans, which prevent leaks and minimize the likelihood of spills or vapor release, as well as container rupture under fire conditions. Typical safety cans have pouring outlets with tight-fitting caps or valves normally closed by springs, except when held open by hand, so contents will not spill if a can tips over. The caps also provide an emergency vent if cans are exposed to flames.

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