6-30 Pesticide storage fires
Fire departments may encounter fires at locations with stored pesticides.
Fire departments may receive information from persons who store pesticides, including information about the name of the pesticides, where the pesticides are located within the facility, conditions of storage and the identity of the person responsible for the pesticides.
Fire departments may encounter fires at locations with stored pesticides, which have no fire preplan.
Actions for employers
- provide firefighters with personal protective equipment appropriate in the circumstances to protect them from exposure to pesticide chemicals
- coordinate a site inspection to assist facilities with a fire safety plan, when they receive information about pesticide storage
- consider inspections of other facilities that may store pesticides such as farms, golf courses, or public utilities, so that firefighters are aware of potential hazards
Fire department pre-plans for pesticide storage fires
Fire departments should develop a fire pre-plan for each pesticide storage site, in consultation with the property owner.
Retail vendors, such as home improvement retail businesses, who are selling pesticides for domestic use will be limited in the type and quantity of pesticides on site. There may not be a need for a detailed pre-plan that would apply to the larger manufacturing or warehousing operations.
Life safety concerns
Protection of first responders is a major concern with fires involving pesticides.
The management of airborne contaminants at ground level hinges on the temperature of combustion, and the exit temperature from a structure. Where fires have been allowed to burn at high temperatures, the risk has been lowered significantly.
First responders at an incident involving pesticides must be protected with personal protective equipment appropriate in the circumstances, to protect them from exposure to airborne chemicals. Appropriate PPE should include self-contained breathing apparatus and standard turn out gear, as a best practice.
Fire control considerations
Where an incident cannot be addressed at the initial stage, and where it is possible to ventilate and let the fire burn, this approach should be considered.
If a facility is fully involved or free burning, firefighter safety is greatly enhanced by remaining outside the structure upwind of smoke and exhaust gases while the pesticide structure burns itself out.
Applicable regulations and acts
- Occupational Health and Safety Act
- clause 25(2)(d) for making workers aware of hazards
- clause 25(2)(h) for taking every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect workers
- Regulation 833 – Control of Exposure to Biological or Chemical Agents
- section 7.2 for protecting workers from exposure to a hazardous biological or chemical agent
More information on pesticide classification is available from the Ministry of the Environment Conservation and Parks.