Zurich has released a Loss Prevention Bulletin dealing with flammable materials used in the collision repair industry.
Zurich notes that open containers of gasoline, paint thinner and other solvents give off vapors that travel along floors and walls searching for an ignition source. Less fresh air moving through a building increases the quantity of flammable vapors and, consequently, the likelihood that they will combine with an ignition source. Most shops have no shortage of ignition sources: pilot lights on water heaters and furnaces, welding equipment, discarded cigarettes, static electricity, sparks generated while grinding and the hot filament inside a light bulb that is exposed when broke.
Proper handling and storage of gasoline is essential, Zurich says. Gasoline has a flashpoint of -45 degrees F, and a mere 1.4 percent of gasoline vapors in the air (by volume) constitutes an explosive mixture.
Paint thinner has many of the same properties as gasoline and must be considered equally as dangerous, according to Zurich. Many shops have up to five or six 55-gallon drums of fresh and waste thinner inside their building. Under these circumstances, there is little hope of controlling or extinguishing a fire once it starts.
Although “safety solvents” have replaced most highly flammable solvents some are still dangerous and should be addressed in your fire prevention efforts, Zurich says. Parts washers are common in the automotive industry, as are brake cleaners and carburetor cleaners.
For more information, contact your Zurich account executive or the Loss Prevention Department at (800) 821-7803.