Decoding SDS Series Section 5: Fire-Fighting Measures
The first few sections of an SDS cover basic information, such as chemical identification, hazard identification, and chemical composition. The middle sections really start to address specific measures to be taken if something with the chemical at hand goes wrong. Section 4 looks at First-Aid measures, while Section 5 covers how to handle a fire caused by the chemical or solution being used. Section 5 is especially critical for the handling of chemicals that have low flashpoints, as they have a higher likelihood to ignite and start a fire. Fires and explosions are obviously extremely dangerous to workers and the surrounding areas, as well as cost a substantial amount of money to clean up and repair damaged objects.
The first piece of information provided is suitable extinguishing media. Depending on the chemical, attempting to put out a fire with the wrong technique could have detrimental effects. The five common types of fire extinguishers are:
- dry power
- carbon dioxide
- wet chemical
It is essential the type of extinguisher is stated in this section of the SDS, saving lives and potential money lost on repair costs. Any extinguishing media that is not suitable to be used must also be explicitly stated. Even though this section could simply state “none,” it is still essential to include this, as you cannot be overcautious when it comes to fires.
Recommendations for specific personal protective equipment (PPE) to be worn by the firefighters is also necessary information for the section. This may include guidelines such as “self-contained breathing apparatus” or “full protective clothing must be worn.” Additionally, precautions for firefighters are established. Stating the class fire the chemical could potentially cause encompasses the majority of the precautions associated with the chemical at hand. There are six fire classes, including common combustible solids (A), flammable liquids (B), flammable gases (C), flammable metals (D), electrical fires (E), and kitchen fires (F). Suitable and unsuitable extinguishing media are typically the same within each fire class, but these pieces of information obviously still need to be stated, as not every worker knows these.
There are specific hazards that may arise from the chemical during the fire, such as explosions, thermal radiation, and smoke. Again, while there could be none of these types of hazards associated with the chemical, it still needs to be noted on the SDS. You can never be too careful or excessive in your explanations of potential risks present with the chemical at hand. Fires and safety are not to be taken lightly.Subscribe to the Chemtek blog and stay up to date on our Decoding SDS series!