While there is widespread appreciation of the need to store flammable substances safely warehouse fires are still a regular occurrence and incorrect storage of flammable substances is often found to play a part in these incidences.
When such a fire occurs it is not necessarily the case that there is a complete disregard for safety, but there are some common mistakes that we witness during site visits that put premises and people at increased risk.
One example is the assumption that storing drums containing flammable substances in an off-the-shelf chemical store means they are safe when this may well not be the case. Often standard stores don’t offer thermal protection which means once the weather heats up the products inside the store do too at which point they can start to give off a flammable vapour and become hazardous.
This is a very simple example but the reality is that storing flammable substances is rarely straight forward with every site having a bespoke set of factors that need to be taken into consideration. It’s therefore useful to consult a hazardous storage expert to ensure that you find the most appropriate solution for your needs but this doesn’t mean you can’t do some ground work first to help you build a picture of your requirements.
The most useful reference tool you have when looking at how to store a flammable substance safely is the product’s Safety Data Sheet (SDS) which will either be provided with the product or be available online – if in doubt contact the manufacturer/supplier. Safety Data Sheets can seem overwhelming at first glance but once you know what you are looking for they are actually quite easy to navigate and the following steps can help.
1. Identify the chemical. First of all, you need to know what you’re dealing with so refer to sections 1& 2 of the Safety Data Sheets to identify the substances you want to store and their associated hazards. Once you have this information use section 9 of the Safety Data Sheet to identify the flashpoint of the substance – make sure you are clear about the difference between the flashpoint and the auto-ignition temperature as it is a common mistake to get these confused. A misconception is that the flashpoint of a liquid is the temperature at which it auto ignites – this is incorrect – the temperature at which it auto ignites is called the autoignition temperature. The flashpoint is the temperature at which the liquid gives off flammable vapour. It is not the liquid but the vapour that ignites, so storing a product below this temperature means that no flammable vapour is created. Controlling the temperature also has another benefit that the flammable or hazardous material may work better in process or application when stored at a certain temperature, this temperature can be found in Section 7 of the Safety Data Sheet.
2. Consider compatibility. If you are storing more than one substance, consider whether they are compatible as certain chemicals need to be segregated within a storage facility. Refer to Section 10 of the Safety Data Sheet to identify incompatible materials.
3. Define the application. Consider how you are using the substances as this will affect the level of risk. Bulk storage of unopened items in sealed containers poses a much lower risk of giving off a flammable vapour than storing products in use where a seal has been broken and lids may not be replaced properly. That said, manufactured sealed containers can cause an issue when stored above the flashpoint and the container is trying to release the vapour because the vapour has nowhere to go which will create pressurised containers that eventually burst or go bang. Remember that you need to think about what will happen to your store if a fire breaks out elsewhere in your facility as well as the risk of a fire breaking out within the store itself.
4. Combat the risks. Think about how you can combat these risks using a hierarchy of hazard controls approach. First, consider whether you could use an alternative substance that poses less of a risk. If this isn’t possible think about what you can do to reduce the risks. Firstly think about thermal protection and temperature control – ensuring a product is stored at the correct temperature as per the Safety Data Sheet will help to prevent flammable vapours from occurring – you also need a way of monitoring this temperature – preferably via a remote system that will alert you of any critical changes in temperature. Next consider whether you need an extraction systems to remove vapour in the event that it does get released, once again this needs to include VOC/gas detection monitoring so you receive an alert if there is a rise in vapour so you can address the situation. The next step is to think about fire detection systems to raise the alarm if you have a fire – a double knock system can reduce false alarms so this might be worth considering. Your unit also needs to include the most appropriate fire suppression media which varies depending on the hazard and will be highlighted in Section 5 of the Safety Data Sheet. Frustratingly sometimes the information within these sections can seem contradictory, for example within the Safety Data Sheet for acetone Section 5 recommends using water sprays but not to use water jets – this is why consulting an expert in hazardous storage is advisable. There is also currently some confusing and contradictory information surrounding the most appropriate media for extinguishing lithium-ion battery fires. This reiterates why it is important to consult a hazardous storage expert with experience in these areas.
5. Have a fire response plan. Anyone storing flammable substances needs to be able to instantly know what’s in their building and what you’ve done to protect your site and the surrounding neighbourhood so ensure you have a detailed inventory that can be accessed quickly in the event of an incident. For example Chemstore’s cloud-based hazardous material management software system, Chempli, which can be specified with a unit, includes a QR code that can be featured outside a building or at a security gate enabling the user to instantly access the relevant information in the event of an incident.
This is a very basic guide to some of the factors that need to be taken into account when planning the storage of flammable substances but hopefully it provides enough information to give you an understanding of the needs on your site. If you are in any doubt about your current storage arrangements, or you are in the process if specifying a new system, contact Chemstore Engineering today for a free site survey.
Walk In Fire Rated Stores Stores
The FireVault storage module provides the highest level of safety instantly for the secure storage of all flammable materials. All areas of industry currently employ flammables in their processes from petroleum products to industrial chemicals.
Manufactured to the highest standards utilising only those fireproofing materials, which have been tested to BS 476, part 22, FireVault Stores comply with all relevant Health & Safety Regulations, Insurance requirements and environmental standards such as IS310, ISO 14001, EMAS and IPC licensing.
Standard features include, full width spillage collection sumps, up to 5 hour fire rated composite wall panels, insulated self-closing doors, intumescent ventilation panels, fixed shelving, anti-static grounding connections, fully welded, leak tested bunds, galvanized grid mesh floors. A range of optional extras are also available for the Firevault units including ex-rated electrical fittings.
All Firevault units are delivered to site fully assembled and ready for immediate use. No special site works are required and at any future time, they can easily be relocated by forklift truck or crane, thereby offering excellent flexibility.
The most common Firevaults are the Walk In Stores used for small container storage (25L cans, Winchesters etc) and feature:
Mat Mitchell spoke to us after receiving a bespoke Firevault – fire rated drum & ibc store on site in the UK .
“After consulting with various suppliers, Chemstore was the only company who could provide us with the required solution” Mat Mitchell Technology Supplies Ltd. –
Fire Rated Stores for: Drums, IBC’s & pallets of flammable materials.
FireVault units are fully modular and can be easily relocated by forkturck or Hi-AB Crane
All Firevault units are delivered to site fully assembled and ready for immediate use with no site work required.
Firevault Multi Pallet Stores feature:
See table below for our range of sizes below
With over 24 years experience in the design manufacture and implementation of safety storage systems for hazardous materials, We know from speaking to our clients that the most prevalent risk has always been in the storage of flammables. What also must be considered is the protection of valuable equipment. The Firevault can employed as a Fire rated critical equipment enclosure. Whether it be the HSE, EPA or even company insurers carrying out assessments on your site it will always be the risk of fire that is given the highest priority. The Firevault enables you to obtain the highest level of safety and protection when storing flammable materials or protecting your most valuable assets on on site.
The asecos range of Cabinets are a renowned standard of quality employed throughout a full range of industries in the UK.
Dimensions: External 1,196W x 616D x 1,968H (mm)
Cabinet Weight: 420Kg
Loading: 75Kg evenly distributed load per shelf.
Storage: 3 No. adjustable shelves and 1 no. bottom collecting sump with perforated insert.
Spillage Collection: 33 L Leak tested, welded steel, liquid collection sump in base.
Access: Twin hinged wing doors
Finish: Chemical resistant powder coat finish (Yellow)
Firevault DNV GL 2.7-2 Certified modules, comply and conform to all health and safety regulations and are manufactured for use in Zone 1 and Zone 2 hazardous areas.
Key applications include:
Safe and secure storage for hazardous materials, petroleum products, solvents, paints, adhesives, lubricants and chemicals.
Download our PDF on the DNV unit here:
Organic Peroxide Storage – Stainless Steel
Typically, chemical stores would be fabricated from mild steel which is then over-painted with a 2-part or 3-part industrial paint system. Standard units would also have exposed galvanized grid decking onto which the pallets would rest – these are unpainted and therefore expose the mild steel to the chemicals stored – in this case Organic Peroxide. Read on for our solution to your organic peroxide storage needs.
When designing an organic peroxide store a Grade 316 stainless steel finish is required, in all locations that could come into contact with the Peroxide. This includes the storage areas, the spillage retention bunds and the fire water retention tank.
The relevant HSE Guidance reference is called: –
CS21 – The Storage and Handling of Organic Peroxides. – Download it here
This is written, specifically to cover the
“… handling and storage of organic peroxides at customer or user sites.”
It clearly details the hazards associated with exposing such chemicals to mild/carbon steel: –
“… commercially available organic peroxides are capable of self heating and runaway decomposition. Initiation is by heating or contamination with, for example, transition metal compounds (particularly those of vanadium, chromium, manganese, iron and cobalt) amines, strong acids and alkalis.”
Furthermore, para 28, when discussing the handling of organic peroxides, states that: –
“… All containers and equipment which come into contact with peroxides must be compatible. Suitable materials include glass, porcelain, polyethylene and 316 grade stainless steel.”
Firevault Optional Extras
Whether it is a simple Atex light or a sophisticated remote monitored Atex temperature controlled environment, here at Chemstore we have the solutions for you.
Follow these simple questions to see what you might need and get in touch or use the live chat feature to find out more now.
Are the flammable products you keep onsite highly valuable?
Have you read the SDS (Safety Data Sheets)?
Do the items require temperature control?
Do you require Humidity Control?
Do you require Fire suppression or Fire Detection?
Do you require Remote Monitoring Systems?
Do you require Gas monitoring systems?
A very common problem our clients have is maintaining valuable liquids and and process chemicals within the correct temperature range for optimum safety and performance. Temperature Controlled Stores are the solution.
Valuable time is lost in waiting for chemicals to heated to performance temperatures and also product is fouled by exposure to incorrect temperatures.
Chemstore’s temperature controlled stores are stand-alone relocatable, insulated stores which are designed to provide secure, controlled storage for temperature sensitive materials. We offer a full range of sizes together with heating and cooling options. Depending on the hazardous material being stored by harnessing the SDS sheet Chemstore can provide the required storage temperature to alleviate any hazard presented by storing materials on site.
We also offer drum & IBC’s Enclosures designed to heat the contents of standard drums and IBC’s from freezing or ambient to your required processing temperature.