Industry Advice: Managing Fire Safety in Laboratories
Environments can pose a serious and immediate fire risk, making adequate fire protection crucial to the safety of technicians and workers.
In a laboratory environment, fires can also have a devastating impact on production and outputs, with the potential to cause extensive damage or the loss of important assets, data, samples, results or research, affecting operations long after the emergency is over.
To reduce the risk and impact of a laboratory fire, Wormald recommends implementing a comprehensive fire protection solution that is tailored for the specific needs of the facility, taking into consideration the nature of work carried out within the site.
In laboratory environments, this should include highly specialised equipment to protect important industry-specific assets, such as fume cupboards, by helping to suppress fires at the source, mitigating the risk of toxic by-products being released into the atmosphere.
Wormald is national distributor of the unique FireDETEC range which features a proprietary sensor tube that is fitted directly inside or around compact equipment enclosures, including laboratory fume cupboards, to detect fire caused by flammable or reactive chemicals.
FireDETEC Fume can help laboratory technicians by suppressing fires quickly, reducing the risk of exposure to biological or infectious materials, while also protecting vital equipment.
The pressured sensor tubing is highly reactive to heat, meaning that in the event of a flame-up, the sensor tube bursts, releasing an extinguishing agent that quickly and effectively suppresses fire. Digital sensors monitor extinguishing cylinder levels in real-time and alert the nominated safety officer if a leak is detected.
Advanced fire protective equipment is one important way to mitigate fire risk in a laboratory facility, however Wormald also recommends regularly reviewing the following safety tips to ensure all the required elements of a comprehensive fire protection plan are in place.
Fire safety tips for laboratory managers
1. Conduct regular fire safety audits. This will help to highlight potential fire risks around the facility and determine the appropriate fire protection solution required.
2. Keep up to date with regulation and legislation. Laboratory managers must know their responsibilities when it comes to ethical and legal fire safety requirements, and develop an appropriate fire prevention plan in accordance with Australian Standard AS3745:2010 “Planning for Emergencies in Facilities”.
3. Install adequate fire protection equipment. In laboratory environments, more advanced fire detection and suppression systems are recommended in addition to fire extinguishers, fire hose reels, and fire doors, to suit the nature of work and type of equipment used.
4. Service and maintain. Fire protection requires systems and equipment perform to the standard to which they were originally designed and installed. Today’s technology can help to keep laboratories compliant and up to date, with Wormald one of the first in Australia to offer an online portal that offers instant visibility of equipment maintenance and servicing.
5. Use appropriate signage. Include signage to identify all hazards, fire protection equipment and emergency exits. Additionally, all chemicals, corrosive, flammable or toxic substances, and radioactive materials must be properly stored, labelled and handled to protect the safety of laboratory workers and prevent possible burns.
6. Train and educate staff. A confident team that is trained to respond appropriately in the event of a fire is an invaluable investment and can substantially reduce the impact of a crisis.
Wormald can help to identify potential hazards and install the most appropriate fire protection solution. For further information, contact our team on 133 166.