Fire, Fire In The Yard!

Every time I hear about a fire at a tow yard or recycling center, I cringe. With so much inventory sometimes stacked closely together, it could be a disastrous and devastating situation if there was a fire. Personally, I’ve heard witnesses describe, “flames that were high as the sky”, “a facility on fire with rising black smoke seen for miles around”, or “loud bangs with explosions resulting from ignited oil cans and popping tires.” When such a fire happens, we feel badly for those experiencing it. Hopefully they can make some changes so it doesn’t happen again. However, careful planning could have helped them maintain the damage.

After reading a piece written by Mark Gamble, I want to share with you Mark’s ideas on how to cut down the risk and avoid major tragedies. Mark described a fire that happened in the dismantling bay at Bessler Auto Parts facility in Kentucky. It was a normal day at Bessler. Everyone was working until the staff yelled, “FIRE!”.

Instantaneously, two workers put into play their plan. One opened the garage door while the other retrieved a fire extinguisher. While the fire extinguisher was doing its job, the vehicle was being lowered. Someone else called 911 and the phone was handed to another employee to communicate their address. As the vehicle hit the garage floor, another worker had boarded a loader, ready to remove the vehicle from the bay. The vehicle was removed to an area away from inventory in the open air. The only sustained damages were to a smoke detector, the wiring leading to the smoke detector and the insulation on the ceiling above. How could a plan work so quickly, you ask?

It was a working plan. Earlier this year, this facility had attended fire training and planning classes that could help them in such dangerous situations. This facility had installed a safety training program and performed monthly safety drills so they could be prepared for any situation inside the shipping and dismantling area. They had also been performing similar, quarterly drills inside the sales area. What a testament to proactive training and planning! Having a plan and working the plan resulted in quick response with minimal damage and no injuries.

When asked why they were able to sustain minimal damage without any injuries, workers unanimously agreed that it was their continuous fire safety training that helped them maintain the fire. They didn’t have to think because they had a plan. As a business owner or manager, are you prepared if one of your employees says, “Fire, Fire in the Yard”? It’s a simple question. If you answer “No”, then you might have compound problems later if you don’t implement such a program at your business. If you do have safety training in place at your facility, when was the last time you actually had a drill? Would your people work together to avoid major damage like the workers did at Bessler Auto Parts? There are companies that can help you be prepared.

I know for a fact that Bessler uses Mike James and E-Comply for their training on safety and environmental compliance. Lots of yards use Mike for storm water permits, now for little money, $50 a month, that can solve your environmental compliance problems. Call me if you want to train your people to be safe.

Not sure if training is necessary, ask yourself how much is your facility worth to you? Or, how much is a life of one of your team members worth to you? I really want everyone to leave home in the morning and come home safe and sound at night. I’m sure you do too.

See you next time!