Fire Prevention V
Fire Prevention – Understanding Flammable Liquids
It is always a good idea to have a portable fire extinguisher nearby at work in case a small fire breaks out. However, we would all be better off if we could prevent the fire from starting in the first place!
One of the keys to preventing fires when handling and storing flammable liquids is to understand the differences in the various categories of flammable liquids, as specified by OSHA.
In the updated OSHA regulations, flammable liquids are listed as either Category 1, 2, 3, or 4. Do you know the difference between these categories? It is important to understand the difference, because although all categories of flammable liquid can burn in the right circumstances, some are apt to ignite much easier than others and therefore require stricter precautions to be taken during their storage and use.
First of all, realize that is not actually liquid that burns, but rather vapors. And the temperature at which a particular liquid evaporates to generate enough vapors to form an ignitable mixture with air near the surface of the liquid is known as the liquid’s “Flash Point”. So the lower the flash point of a liquid is, the more apt it is to catch on fire, while the higher the flashpoint of a liquid, the harder it is to catch on fire. One other factor related to categorization of these liquids is their “Boiling Point”, as those with a lower boiling point vaporize at a lower temperature than those with a higher boiling point.