Fire Hazards

By David Torres,

While facility fires are uncommon, they are nevertheless devastating when they happen. To prevent a fire in your storage unit, it is imperative to educate yourself about the potential fire hazards. In order to keep your belongings safe, it’s best to err on the side of caution. This blog post takes a look at common items that start fires, the damages that may occur, and the OSHA rules and regulations that are put in place to prevent fires.

Common Items that Start Fires

Many believe that their storage unit is safe from fire because of the walls surrounding their belongings, protecting their possessions from a potential outside fire. While that is most often the case, it is still important to know which items are potential fire hazards:

  • Aluminum, metal, steel wool, wood objects
  • Batteries
  • Electrical appliances such as amps, lamps, stoves, etc.
  • Large piles of clothes, blankets, and papers
  • Oil trails left by cars, lawn mowers, motors, welding machines, etc.
  • Items that violate the facility’s storing regulations: chemicals, odorous/noxious gas, gasoline, compressed gas, filled propane tanks, kerosene, lamp and motor oils, fertilizers, fireworks, firearms, ammunition, paints, cleaners, and asbestos or anything containing asbestos

Remember, a fire can happen at any given time in the right elements. A fire only needs three things in order to ignite: oxygen, heat, and an ignition source. Once that happens, it is up to the facility to manage the situation to the best of their capability.

What Kind of Damage Can Be Done?

Although storage units may seem invincible from fires, they are just as susceptible as anywhere else. When ruined by fire, the estimated damages of a storage unit can vary, depending on the facility and the strength of their fire prevention tactics. You might be asking, which items catch fire the quickest? Well, that is difficult to answer, but the more hazardous items that are being stored, the greater the potential is for a lit fire to spread quickly.

Storage facilities should be obligated to do everything within their power to prevent fires. Not only do fires affect their tenants, but it also affects their bottom line. The restoration costs of repairing fire damage affects them not only financially but publicly, which could easily feel like a million dollar loss.

OSHA Rules and Regulations

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) plays a huge role in preventing many accidents across industries, and fire prevention is no different. There is a plethora of compliances that storage facilities must abide by.

When considering buying a storage unit, OSHA will always be there to count on, but are your storage items really safe? Be the judge yourself when visiting a storage facility and assess how well-prepared the staff is for any threatening situation. The following are a few points that all experienced managers should be doing on a regular basis to prevent fires:

  • Check sprinkler systems and fire extinguishers for any malfunctions.
  • Ensure that exits are clearly marked and clear of boxes and debris.
  • Have a trained and knowledgeable staff for fire protocol.
  • Monitor tenants for any illegal activity.
  • Monitor any prohibited actions like smoking near storage areas.

OSHA does a great job of placing regulations, but it is up to the storage facilities to regulate the rules in order to not only prevent fires, but also avoid detrimental fines.

All storage users should be concerned for any hazardous situation. Always ask about insurance and what kind of coverage is in place, as every storage facility is different. If you are specifically concerned about fire, a recommendation would be to ask how to store items in the safest way possible, especially if the items are in the aforementioned list. Damage to your items can not only hurt financially, but can hurt physically and emotionally. It never hurts to be responsible and take the appropriate action for precautionary reasons.

All images have either been provided by a listed organization or are licensed under the Creative Commons.