To best protect your business against possible fire and resulting losses, it is necessary to understand how the combustion process works.
What is the Fire Triangle?
The combustion process, better known as the Fire Triangle, has three components: heat, fuel, and oxygen. In order for fire to occur, all three need to be present. Since oxygen is omnipresent, it can be deduced that the best methods to prevent ignition are through controlling heat, fuel, and the interactions between them both.
Fire and Marijuana Facilities
Marijuana facilities present a unique challenge and thus must take on extra precautions. For example, indoor growing facilities will face problems with air enrichment due to carbon dioxide, especially when using tanks of compressed carbon dioxide. Other facilities, such as those that deal with concentrates, oils, and edibles, have additional risk due to dry ice or burners, or other reactive chemical processes involved in extraction.
Using the Fire Triangle to Prevent Fire
Using the Fire Triangle model, you must first look at how to control heat. Ignition is often caused by smoking, badly maintained cooking or other heat-producing appliances, or overloaded electrical outlets. Optimally, these ignition sources would be minimized as a first means of controlling heat, and then regularly cleaned, inspected, and maintained. Smoking should also be discouraged on the premises, as this presents not only a fire hazard, but a possible legal problem. Furthermore, if any welding or cutting is performed in the facility, it should be done in accordance with the relevant OHSA regulations.
While controlling heat is relatively straightforward, it can be much more difficult to properly control fuel, particularly in certain marijuana facilities that utilize machinery for extraction or use compressed carbon dioxide. Effectively storing flammable and combustible liquids is integral to preventing workplace fires. If their containers fail and spill during a fire, the additional fuel will significantly worsen the fire.
Below are some tips to controlling fuel in order to prevent fires:
- Substitute a highly combustible liquid with one that is less flammable.
- Limit the supply of highly combustible material within the major facility areas.
- Limit the storage of combustible liquids to no more than the recommended volume for its class (60 gal of Class I/Class II and 120 gal for Class III) for inside storage in any single fire rated flammable liquids storage cabinet, with no more than 3 cabinets in one storage area.
Once heat and fuel are controlled, the last step is to control the interaction between the two. The most effective means to limiting this possible interaction is through keeping combustibles in covered containers when not in use and transferring these liquids using cautionary measures such as a closed piping system, devices that draw through the top, safety cans, or containers with an approved self-closing valve. Furthermore, storage rooms that have these liquids should be segregated from other areas of the facility using fire barriers and should be protected by an automatic sprinkler system.
Fire prevention and protection are not matters to take lightly in marijuana facilities where extra hazardous conditions exist in both ignition and fuel sources. Through adequate education on the Fire Triangle, possible risks can be better determined and controlled to save property and money.