Forklifts and Fires – Forklift Safety Newsletter – December 2014

Forklift Fires

Do forklift fires pose a hazard? Absolutely. And are all your forklifts equipped with fire extinguishers? Hopefully.

Let’s review some of the main ways that your forklift can create a fire hazard.

  • Oil and fuel leaks are an obvious fire issue and should be identified during inspections and repaired immediately.forklift fires 1
  • Refueling areas pose hazards. There should be no smoking or ignition sources within 25 feet of refueling areas. Propane refueling stations must be equipped with break away protection. Battery charging areas should be well ventilated to disperse hydrogen gas.
  • Facilities with actual or potential flammable atmospheres are required to use forklifts with specific safety features on the engine. (Refer to OSHA’s Powered Industrial Truck regulations for further information.)
  • Flammable dusts will settle in the engine compartment, most commonly around the exhaust manifold. Address this by setting up an engine blowdown schedule.
  • Contact with overhead electrical conductors is another way to ignite combustibles. If this is a possibility, make sure the hazards are posted and operators trained.

When stacking/storing materials:

  • Nothing should be placed where it blocks access to walkways, escape routes, fire fighting equipment (extinguishers, hoses, etc.), first aid kits, or defibrillators.
  • A minimum of 36” clearance must be maintained around MCC panels and transformers.
  • For buildings with sprinklers, you must keep at least 18 inches between the sprinklers and material below them.
  • For buildings without sprinklers material must not be stacked closer than 24 inches from the ceiling so responders can spray water over the top of the material.

If you would like to share your experiences/photos of forklift incidents that can educate others on the principles of safe forklift operation please send them to:

We will not publish company or individuals names.

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Bruce Hulberg February 10, 2016
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