Boiler Room Safety

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Boiler room safety procedures must be exercised at all times by the boiler operator. Accidents can occur as a  result of not following safety procedures or because of boiler equipment failure. If an accident occurs, the boiler operator must act quickly. Established emergency  procedures will reduce the possibility of additional injuries and/or damage to equipment. All boiler room accidents must be reported regardless of their nature.

Fuels used in the boiler room are combustible  and present a fire hazard. The boiler operator is responsible for fire prevention in the boiler room. Boiler room safety is achieved by following safety rules.

Boiler Room Accidents

Boiler room accidents can occur at any time. Even though safety precautions are followed, the possibility of an accident still exists. Injuries resulting from accidents must be handled quickly and intelligently. A boiler operator who is familiar with the equipment and plant will know how to react in an emergency.

All injuries no matter how minor should be treated promptly. Serious injuries require notifying qualified personnel. All accidents should be reported regardless  of their nature. Serious problems can occur regarding insurance claims if complications arise as a result of an accident that was not reported or put on file.

Accident reports include the following information: date, time and place of accident, immediate superior, name of injured person, nature of injury, what injured person was doing at the time of accident, and cause of accident. Accident reports are also used to document plant safety records.

Boiler Room Fire Prevention

Boiler room fire prevention procedures are necessary because of the combustible nature of the materials used in the boiler room. The boiler operator must know the procedure to be used in sending for the fire department or sounding the fire alarm. The person who sends for help should make sure another plant worker is available to direct the fire fighters to the right location when they arrive. In addition, the boiler operator must know the location of the fire alarm boxes and stations in or near the boiler room. Combustible materials burn readily and require special handling by the boiler operator. The boiler operator must know what is necessary to start and sustain a fire in order to know how to put the fire out.

Fuel (combustible material), heat, and oxygen  are required to start and sustain a fire. The fire will go out when any one of these is removed. Fuel may be fuel oil, wood, paper, textiles, or any other material that burns readily. If the fuel supply is cut off or the fuel is burned up the fire will go out. The fuel must be heated to its ignition temperature. If the burning material is cooled below its ignition temperature the fire will go out. Oxygen is required to support the combustion process. If the oxygen supply is cut off by smothering the fire will go out.

Since the main ingredient is the combustible material, waste or oil rags must be stored in safety containers and volatile liquids in safety cans. By maintaining careful control of the combustible materials in a boiler room, the danger of a fire hazard is reduced. Local fire departments have trained inspectors that inspect buildings and factories for possible fire hazards and required firefighting equipment. Many insurance companies also have inspection services that can be useful for preventing fires in the boiler room.

Fig 11-2. A fire requires fuel, heat, and oxygen to burn. The fire will go out when any one is removed.

Classes of Fires

The class of fire is determined by the combustible material burned. The three most common classes of fire are Class A, Class B, and Class C. Class A includes fires that burn wood, paper, textiles, and other ordinary combustible material containing carbon. Class B includes fires that burn oil, gas, grease, paint or other liquids that convert into gas when heated. Class C include electrical, motor, or transformer fires.

Class D is a rare, specialized class of fires including fires caused by combustible metals such as zirconium, titanium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium. A special powder is applied using a scoop or shovel to put out this class of fire.

The boiler operator must know where every fire extinguisher is located in the boiler room and plant. The boiler operator must also know what type of fire extinguisher is used for each class of fire and how to use different types of fire extinguishers. Fire extinguishers are not meant to take the place of the local fire department. Fire extinguishers are only meant to put out small fires or help to contain larger ones until additional help arrives. The number and type of fire extinguishers needed are determined by the authority having jurisdiction and are based on how fast a fire may spread, potential heat intensity, and accessibility to the fire. Additional fire extinguishers must be installed in hazardous areas. The National Fire Protection Association lists these areas as light hazard (Low), ordinary hazard (moderate), and extra hazard (high).

Light hazard areas include buildings or rooms that are used as churches, offices, classrooms, and assembly halls. The contents in buildings and rooms of this nature are either noncombustible or not anticipated to be arranged in a manner that would be conductive to the rapid spread of a fire. Class B flammables (for example, fluid for duplicating machines) stores in a light hazard area must be stored in closed containers. Ordinary hazard areas include shops and related storage facilities, light manufacturing plants, automobile showrooms, and parking garages. In addition, ordinary hazard areas include any location where Class A combustibles and Class B flammables exceed those expected for light hazard areas. Extra hazard areas are those locations where Class A combustibles and Class B flammables exceed those expected in ordinary hazard areas. Extra hazard areas include woodworking shops, manufacturing plants using painting or dipping, and automotive repair shops.

Safety Rules

The boiler operator is the person responsible for the safe and efficient operation of the boiler. The boiler operator must develop safety habits to prevent personal injury, injury to others, and damage to equipment. Safety rules vary depending on the type and size of the plant. However, the basic safety rules listed are common to all boiler rooms.

  1. Wear approved clothing and shoes in the plant at all times.

  2. Wear gloves when handling hot lines or cleaning fuel oil burner tips.

  3. Wear appropiate eye protection in all designated areas. Use hand sheilds when visually inspecting the furnace fire.

  4. Wear goggles and respirators when cleaning the fire side of the boiler, breeching, or chimney.

  5. Wear a hard hat when working where there is a possibility of head injury

  6. Do not use hands to stop moving equipment

  7. Store all oily rags or waste in approved containers to prevent fires caused by spontaneous combustion.

  8. Only use approved safety cans to store combustible liquids.

  9. Check all fire safety equipment on a regular basis to be sure it is in proper working condition.

  10. Check fire extinguishers periodically for proper charge and correct location.

  11. Do not use unsafe ladders or substitutes for ladders.

  12. Ladders should never be used as bridges.

  13. Do not leave loose tools on ladders, catwalks, tops of boilers, or scaffolds.

  14. Do not carry tools in back pockets.

  15. Do not throw a tool to anyone at any time.

  16. Use the proper tool for the job.

  17. Do not use defective tools.

  18. Always secure and tag steam stop valves, bottom blowdown valves, and feedwater valves when a boiler in battery is removed from service for cleaning and inspection.

  19. Never start any equipment  that has been tagged out for safety reasons.

  20. Make sure the equipment has been secured and tagged out before attempting to clean or repair.

  21. Always use low voltage droplights when working in boiler steam and water drums.

  22. Precheck all equipment for starting hazards.

  23. Clean up liquid spills at once.

  24. Move quickly and with purpose in emergencies but do not run.

  25. Personally double check the plant and equipment before starting up or making repairs.

  26. Make repairs on live equipment only in extreme emergencies.

  27. Always report any unsafe condition in the plant to the immediate superior.

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