Hesperian Health Guides

Hesperian Health Guides

Prevent fires

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HealthWiki > Workers' Guide to Health and Safety > Chapter 11: Fire > Prevent fires


International, national, and local laws and standards have been developed around preventing fires more than around any other workplace danger. Even if the authorities in your region will not enforce fire safety standards, there are things you, other workers, and factory managers can do to reduce the risk of fire in your workplace. Make a fire prevention plan and organize workers and managers to take responsibility to keep your factory safe.

a room full of women at sewing machines; arrows point to improved conditions.
exits clearly marked
doors unlocked whenever workers are in the building
fire detector
regular inspection for fire dangers
fire alarm bell
fire extinguisher
supplies stored neatly
doors and aisles clear
sprinkler system
wires protected and out of the way
This factory has made improvements to prevent fires.

Store solvents safely

Because solvents catch fire more easily than almost anything else, store solvents safely to prevent fires. Solvents should:

  • always be stored in tightly sealed, fireproof containers.
  • never be stored in dormitories, stairways, or near fire exits.
  • not be stored near other chemicals or materials that catch fire easily, such as fabric or foam insulation.
  • not be used or stored near hot equipment, or machines or work processes that create heat or sparks.
  • be kept in small containers in work areas. Store larger containers of solvents in a well-ventilated, fireproof chemical storage room away from work areas.


Good maintenance prevents fires:

  • clean the work area often of paper, dust, fabric scraps, cardboard, and other materials that can easily catch fire.
  • keep equipment, machines, and tools in good repair and safely located.
  • replace or repair broken or frayed electrical wires right away.
  • do not smoke near anything that could catch fire, such as fabric, dust, chemicals, or containers of gas, kerosene, or propane.
  • make sure curtains, bedding, and clothing in dormitories are kept away from stoves, heaters, and lamps.
  • raise awareness around fires and fire safety.