Resources - Fire and Life Safety

Fire Safety Manual


Fire prevention measures propose to reduce the incidence of fires by eliminating opportunities for ignition of flammable materials.


Flammable and Combustible Materials

A. Substitution

Flammable liquids sometimes may be substituted by relatively safe materials in order to reduce the risk of fires. Any substituted material should be stable and nontoxic and should either be nonflammable or have a high flashpoint.


B. Storage

Flammable and combustible liquids require careful handling at all times. The proper storage of flammable liquids within a work area is very important in order to protect personnel from fire and other safety and health hazards.

1) Cabinets. Not more than 120 gallons of Class I, Class II, and Class IIIA liquids may be stored in a storage cabinet. Of this total, not more than 60 gallons may be Class I and II liquids. Not more than three such cabinets (120 gallons each) may be located in a single fire area except in an industrial area.

Table 1. Maximum allowable capacity of containers and portable tanks


Flammable Liquids

Combustible Liquids







Glass or approved plastic1

1 pt2

1 qt2

1 gal

1 gal

1 gal

Metal (Other than DOT drums)

1 gal

5 gal

5 gal

5 gal

5 gal

Safety Cans

2 gal

5 gal

5 gal

5 gal

5 gal

Metal drums (DOT specifications)

60 gal

60 gal

60 gal

60 gal

60 gal

Approved portable tanks

660 gal

660 gal

660 gal

660 gal

660 gal

(1) Nearest metric size is also acceptable for the glass and plastic
(2) One gallon or nearest metric equivalent size may be used if metal and labeled with their contents.


2) Containers.   The capacity of flammable and combustible liquid containers will be in accordance with Table 1.


3) Storage Inside Buildings.  Where approved storage cabinets or rooms are not provided, inside storage will comply with the following basic conditions:

a. The storage of any flammable or combustible liquid shall not physically obstruct a means of egress from the building or area.


b. Containers of flammable or combustible liquids will remain tightly sealed except when transferred, poured or applied. Remove only that portion of liquid in the storage container required to accomplish a particular job.

c. If a flammable and combustible liquid storage building is used, it will be a one-story building devoted principally to the handling and storing of flammable or combustible liquids. The building will have 2-hour fire-rated exterior walls having no opening within 10 feet of such storage.

d. Flammable paints, oils, and varnishes in 1 or 5 gallon containers, used for building maintenance purposes, may be stored temporarily in closed containers outside approved storage cabinets or room if kept at the job site for less than 10 calendar days.


C. Ventilation

Every inside storage room will be provided with a continuous mechanical exhaust ventilation system. To prevent the accumulation of vapors, the location of both the makeup and exhaust air openings will be arranged to provide, as far as practical, air movement directly to the exterior of the building and if ducts are used, they will not be used for any other purpose.


D. Elimination of Ignition Sources

All nonessential ignition sources must be eliminated where flammable liquids are used or stored. The following is a list of some of the more common potential ignition sources:

  • Open flames, such as cutting and welding torches, furnaces, matches, and heaters-these sources should be kept away from flammable liquids operations. Cutting or welding on flammable liquids equipment should not be performed unless the equipment has been properly emptied and purged with a neutral gas such as nitrogen.
  • Chemical sources of ignition such as d.c. motors, switched, and circuit breakers-these sources should be eliminated where flammable liquids are handled or stored. Only approved explosion-proof devices should be used in these areas.
  • Mechanical sparks-these sparks can be produced as a result of friction. Only nonsparking tools should be used in areas where flammable liquids are stored or handled.
  • Static sparks-these sparks can be generated as a result of electron transfer between two contacting surfaces. The electrons can discharge in a small volume, raising the temperature to above the ignition temperature. Every effort should be made to eliminate the possibility of static sparks. Also proper bonding and grounding procedures must be followed when flammable liquids are transferred or transported.


E. Removal of Incompatibles

Materials that can contribute to a flammable liquid fire should not be stored with flammable liquids. Examples are oxidizers and organic peroxides, which, on decomposition, can generate large amounts of oxygen.

F. Flammable Gases

Generally, flammable gases pose the same type of fire hazards as flammable liquids and their vapors. Many of the safeguards for flammable liquids also apply to flammable gases, other properties such as toxicity, reactivity, and corrosivity also must be taken into account. Also, a gas that is flammable could produce toxic combustion products.


Fire Extinguishers

A portable fire extinguisher is a "first aid" device and is very effective when used while the fire is small. The use of fire extinguisher that matches the class of fire, by a person who is well trained, can save both lives and property. Portable fire extinguishers must be installed in workplaces regardless of other firefighting measures. The successful performance of a fire extinguisher in a fire situation largely depends on its proper selection, inspection, maintenance, and distribution.

A. Classification of Fires and Selection of Extinguishers

Fires are classified into four general categories depending on the type of material or fuel involved. The type of fire determines the type of extinguisher that should be used to extinguish it.

1) Class A fires involve materials such as wood, paper, and cloth which produce glowing embers or char.

2) Class B fires involve flammable gases, liquids, and greases, including gasoline and most hydrocarbon liquids which must be vaporized for combustion to occur.

3) Class C fires involve fires in live electrical equipment or in materials near electrically powered equipment.

4) Class D fires involve combustible metals, such as magnesium, zirconium, potassium, and sodium.


Extinguishers will be selected according to the potential fire hazard, the construction and occupancy of facilities, hazard to be protected, and other factors pertinent to the situation.

B. Location and Marking of Extinguishers

Extinguishers will be conspicuously located and readily accessible for immediate use in the event of fire. They will be located along normal paths of travel and egress. Wall recesses and/or flush-mounted cabinets will be used as extinguisher locations whenever possible.

Extinguishers will be clearly visible. In locations where visual obstruction cannot be completely avoided, directional arrows will be provided to indicate the location of extinguishers and the arrows will be marked with the extinguisher classification.

If extinguishers intended for different classes of fire are located together, they will be conspicuously marked to ensure that the proper class extinguisher selection is made at the time of a fire. Extinguisher classification markings will be located on the front of the shell above or below the extinguisher nameplate. Markings will be of a size and form to be legible from a distance of 3 feet.

C. Condition

Portable extinguishers will be maintained in a fully charged and operable condition. They will be kept in their designated locations at all times when not being used. When extinguishers are removed for maintenance or testing, a fully charged and operable replacement unit will be provided.

D. Mounting and Distribution of Extinguishers

Extinguishers will be installed on hangers, brackets, in cabinets, or on shelves. Extinguishers having a gross weight not exceeding 40 pounds will be so installed that the top of the extinguisher is not more than 3-1/2 feet above the floor.

Extinguishers mounted in cabinets or wall recesses or set on shelves will be placed so that the extinguisher operating instructions face outward. The location of such extinguishers will be made conspicuous by marking the cabinet or wall recess in a contrasting color which will distinguish it from the normal decor.

Extinguishers must be distributed in such a way that the amount of time needed to travel to their location and back to the fire does not allow the fire to get out of control. OSHA requires that the travel distance for Class A and Class D extinguishers not exceed 75 feet. The maximum travel distance for Class B extinguishers is 50 feet because flammable liquid fires can get out of control faster that Class A fires. There is no maximum travel distance specified for Class C extinguishers, but they must be distributed on the basis of appropriate patterns for Class A and B hazards.

E. Inspection and Maintenance

Once an extinguisher is selected, purchased, and installed, it is the responsibility of the CDC Office of Health and Safety to oversee the inspection, maintenance, and testing of fire extinguishers to ensure that they are in proper working condition and have not been tampered with or physically damaged.

Fire Safety Inspections/Housekeeping

First line supervisors and Safety Committees are responsible for conducting work site surveys at least annually. These surveys should include observations of worksite safety and housekeeping issues and should specifically address proper storage of chemicals and supplies, unobstructed access to fire extinguishers, and emergency evacuation routes. Also, they should determine if an emergency evacuation plan is present in work areas and that personnel are familiar with the plan.




Emergency Egress


Every exit will be clearly visible, or the route to it conspicuously identified in such a manner that every occupant of the building will readily know the direction of escape from any point. At no time will exits be blocked.

Any doorway or passageway which is not an exit or access to an exit but which may be mistaken for an exit, will be identified by a sign reading "Not An Exit" or a sign indicating it actual use (i.e., "Storeroom"). Exits and accesses to exits will be marked by a readily visible sign. Each exit sign (other than internally illuminated signs) will be illuminated by a reliable light source providing not less than 5 foot-candles on the illuminated surface.

Facilities Design Review

Facilities will be designed in a manner consistent with health and safety regulations and standards of good design. The Engineering Services Office, together with OHS, will ensure that there is appropriate health and safety review of facility concepts, designs, and plans. A formal design review process is currently in place for all new construction efforts. ]

Occupant Emergency Plan for Persons with Disabilities

The first line supervisor is assigned the responsibility to assist Persons with Disabilities under their supervision. An alternate assistant will be chosen by the supervisor. The role of the two assistants is to report to their assigned person, and to either assist in evacuation or assure that the PWD is removed from danger.

  • Supervisors, alternates, and the person with a disability will be trained by OHS on available escape routes and methods.
  • A list of persons with disabilities is kept in the Office of Health and Safety. This list is updated by the Emergency coordinators, emergency monitors, OHS, the Office of Personnel Management, and the PWD Committee.
  • Visitors who have disabilities will be assisted in a manner similar to that of CDC employees. The Host of the person with disabilities will assist in their evacuation.

Emergencies involving Fire

A. Fire Alarms

In the event of a fire emergency, a fire alarm will sound for the building.

B. Evacuation Routes and Plans

Each facility shall have an emergency evacuation plan. All emergency exits shall conform to NFPA standards.

Should evacuation be necessary, go to the nearest exit or stairway and proceed to an area of refuge outside the building. Most stairways are fire resistant and present barriers to smoke if the doors are kept closed.

Do not use elevators. Should the fire involve the control panel of the elevator or the electrical system of the building, power in the building may be cut and you could be trapped between floors. Also, the elevator shaft can become a flue, lending itself to the passage and accumulation of hot gases and smoke generated by the fire.

C. Emergency Coordinators

Emergency Coordinators will be responsible for verifying personnel have evacuated from their assigned areas.

Fire Emergency Procedures

If you discover a fire:

  1. Activate the nearest fire alarm.
  2. Notify the fire department by dialing 9-911. Give your location, the nature of the fire, and your name.
  3. Notify your Emergency Coordinator and other occupants.
    1. Clifton Road, Control Room, X2887.
    2. Chamblee, Guard Station, X4345.
    3. Lawrenceville, Guard Station, X5900.
    4. Other Metro Facilities: Call Metro emergency number 9-911.
  4. Notify the Office of Health and Safety, X3112.

Fight the fire ONLY if:

  1. The fire department has been notified of the fire, AND
  2. The fire is small and confined to its area of origin, AND
  3. You have a way out and can fight the fire with your back to the exit, AND
  4. You have the proper extinguisher, in good working order, AND know how to use it.
  5. If your are not sure of your ability or the fire extinguisher's capacity to contain the fire, leave the area.

If you hear a fire alarm:

  1. Evacuate the area. Close windows, turn off gas jets, and close doors as you leave.
  2. Leave the building and move away from exits and out of the way of emergency operations.
  3. Assemble in a designated area.
  4. Report to the monitor so he/she can determine that all personnel have evacuated your area.
  5. Remain outside until competent authority (Physical Security, Office of Health and Safety, or your supervisor) states that it is safe to re-enter.

Evacuation Routes

  1. Learn at least two escape routes, and emergency exits from your area.
  2. Never use an elevator as part of your escape route.
  3. Learn to activate a fire alarm.
  4. Learn to recognize alarm sounds.
  5. Take an active part in fire evacuation drills.


Sources: Adapted from CDC Fire Safety Manual

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Copyright ©2000-2019 Geigle Safety Group, Inc. All rights reserved. Federal copyright prohibits unauthorized reproduction by any means without permission. Disclaimer: This material is for training purposes only to inform the reader of occupational safety and health best practices and general compliance requirement and is not a substitute for provisions of the OSH Act of 1970 or any governmental regulatory agency. CertiSafety is a division of Geigle Safety Group, Inc., and is not connected or affiliated with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).