Q65. How do we prevent fires from occurring?

Fire is made up of three components: oxygen, an ignition source and fuel, so the removal of any one of these can prevent a fire from starting. In practical terms, the focus must be on managing the ignition and fuel sources effectively.

The identification of ignition sources and potential fuels for fires needs to be undertaken in a planned and systematic manner, often with the use of drawings and general arrangement plans of your workplace.

Ignition sources, fuels and some possible controls within a workplace could include (but are not restricted to):

Ignition sources


Deliberate fires set by arsonists

Assess security arrangements including:

Controlled access onto the premises.

Use of CCTV and appropriate warning signage.

Condition and suitability of all perimeter fencing.

Thorough assessment and vetting of personnel when hired.

Identify possible locations where fires can be easily started (such as stacked cardboard or other combustibles stored externally).

Sparks and flames from hot work activities such as welding and cutting

Hot work to be carried out in hot work zones where possible. Hot work to be carried out under a permit-to-work system.


'No smoking' policy to be drafted and communicated. Designated smoking areas to be made available.

Naked flames (including matches and lighters) to be prohibited in areas where a fire risk has been identified.

Appropriate hazard and safety signage to be used.

Sparks and fires for defective electrical installations (both fixed and portable)

Ensure that all fixed and portable electrical installations are identified and covered under a planned preventative maintenance (PPM) programme.

Faults with work equipment due to lack of maintenance, poor condition or incorrect use

Ensure that all work equipment is identified and covered under a PPM programme. Provide machine-specific safety inductions for all persons required to operate them.

Contractor or third party activities (where fire safety awareness levels may be lower)

Assess contractor competency prior to signing contracts.

Provide adequate safety inductions including fire precautions and arrangements that apply to all contractors working at your workplace. Ensure adequate supervision of contractors on site.

Combustible materials stored in vulnerable locations such as wooden pallets stacked against buildings or waste cardboard stored in large quantities internally

Provide secure storage of combustible materials.

Do not allow large quantities of combustible materials to accumulate.

Do not store combustible materials close to buildings, fuels tanks or other vulnerable


Oils, paints and other hazardous substances incorrectly stored, flammable vapors accumulating in closed or poorly ventilated spaces

Review requirement for hazardous substances in your workplace and assess whether

less hazardous substances can replace existing ones.

Provide secure and dedicated storage for hazardous materials.

Ensure ventilation is adequate wherever vapors and gases can accumulate.

Ensure good housekeeping routines are in place.

Ensure that excessive amounts of combustible materials are not kept on site. Store materials that present a potential fire hazard (such as compressed gas bottles and oxidizing substances) according to manufacturers' recommendations and industry best practice.

Ensure suitable and sufficient safety signage is posted clearly at all locations where fuel sources are stored.

Ensure the company safety induction covers high-risk fire locations and the actions that employees are required to take in an emergency.

Ensure that suitable and sufficient fire fighting and fire detection systems are in place, appropriate to the risk present.

Flammable materials used for curtains, furniture and fittings

Replace with fire-retardant materials or treat with fire-retardant coatings (where appropriate).

Use a risk assessment form for documenting fire hazards in your workplace. In that way, once the fire hazards have been identified, the same form can be used to document the appropriate controls and responsibilities too.

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