How Fire Can Be Very Catastrophic

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Fire is one of the deadliest risk that can invade premises or household and cause great damages to people and property. It is hazardous mainly because it strikes when unknown and can extend the damage to all other neighboring premises and property (Coppola 2007, 28). Fire risk assessment is the only solution to prevent extensive damage that can be caused by fire. It is the systematic assessment of the possible fire causative agents, the extent of the fire they can cause and the ways forward on how to reduce the effect of such fires. It is a process that involves identifying the possible fire hazards, identifying the people at risk, evaluating the extend of the risk if at all a fire occurs, recording findings and setting up strategies to reduce the damage of the fire risk. Fire assessment process is a safety precaution that should be carried out in a company of a home regularly and periodically to make ensure that all fire-fighting tools and equipment are set. It also enables reduction of the possible fire causing hazards (Wells 1997, 26).

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Chemicals are one of the most prevalent causes of fire. Chemical fire is one of the most dreaded fire occurrences mainly because it can spread rapidly to any other flammable substance in short periods thus causing a lot of damage (Coppola 2007, 29). Chemicals are also tricky to deal with mainly because most of them can easily vaporize forming very flammable gases or vapor which can easily attract fire from very long distances. Formaldehyde as an example of such chemical, is very corrosive and can easily evaporate forming a very flammable gas. The formaldehyde vapor spreads easily to long distances within seconds making it very dangerous to humanity and to property (Wells 1997, 28).

In this regard, our company which deals in the processing and transportation of formaldehyde can suffer great losses if there is poor fire assessment and prevention mechanisms (Coppola 2007, 49). Formaldehyde is usually supplied to a number of industrial customers all over Europe and some parts of UK. Thought the business has its dangers, it is profitable and it is the main source of income to our company. Due to the risky nature of the business and the product involved, the company requires that a fire risk assessment exercise be carried out every month to ensure that all fire-fighting equipment and all other equipment used in the processing are safe and in good condition for use (Wells 1997, 79).

The first step in fire assessment is highlighting all the possible fire hazards at the place of work. This will give the assessor a clear mind in determining the most possible hazards and give possible ways of combating the hazards. Fire risks associated with formaldehyde includes the on-site dangers and the dangers involved during its transportation to the respective destinations (Coppola 2007, 146). One of the on-site danger is leakage from pipes and containers. This is dangerous as it will easily vaporize into space and can then be inhaled by workers. Inhalation of the formaldehyde vapor is dangerous to the body and causes sore throat, coughing, shortness of breath and even cause death if in high concentrations. This is risky and a danger to the workers at the premises. To add to this, formaldehyde gas can cause very disastrous explosions if it comes into contact with heat. This is very disastrous as it can lead to lose of the whole premises and even death of workers. The fire can also extend to the estates nearby due to electric cable connections (Wells 1997, 49). Such an incidence can be very catastrophic and can cause a lot of economic decline to the county. Another danger associated with leakages is it’s readily reaction with high oxidizing agents, bases and with nitrogen dioxide. Its reaction with nitrogen dioxide is very explosive at about 180ﹾC. The other reactions with the other substances that are also dangerous to humans and need to be disposed off keenly if discovered in time (Coppola 2007, 156).

Another risk factor associated with the on-site processing of formaldehyde is explosion of pipes carrying liquid or gaseous formaldehyde at high pressure. This causes high degree of exposure of formaldehyde to the environment and can have effects to a large extent. It can easily vaporize into air causing negative impacts to the neighboring estates and even river Ure’s tributary which passes alongside the company. Such an incidence is catastrophic both to the company and to the society as it will cause death of workers and also members of the society at the estates (Coppola 2007, 159). To the aquatic life in river Ure’s tributary, it can cause suffocation and eventual death. Any edible creature that will survive in the water can cause illness if used for food. To add to this, the high pressure explosion can also cause physical damage to any individual near the scene. The pressure released by the exploding pipe can throw any individual at high speeds to some distance far from the scene. This scenario causes full exposure of an individual to formaldehyde and this affects his or her eyes, skin, respiratory tract and even the mouth. Such state of accident is catastrophic and can cause death instantly or cause severe injuries to the individual (Wells 1997, 94).

Another health risk that can result from the on-site processing of formaldehyde is release of it’s by products to river Uri’s tributary. This is dangerous to the aquatic life and can cause massive deaths of the aquatic animals. Its dissolution in the water will also make the water dangerous for use in any household activity (Kleane & Sanders 2008, 13). Any contact with the water will also have dangers to the skin, eyes and the general body. Such water is also dangerous to both domestic and wild animals as it will cause massive deaths if animals use it for drinking. Such contamination can cause disaster all through the river to the destination water body. This can be very dangerous as it will kill all fish in the river causing hunger and economic decline to the society. All those earning a living from fishing will have difficulties in meeting their daily living. Massive death of fish in the river will also cause very bad odor resulting from the rotting fish (Coppola 2007, 56).

Another risk factor associated with the production of formaldehyde is the accidental contamination of food or drinking water. This can easily happen at the place of work due to confusion or through dissolution of such vapors in water which is then used for cooking. Food contamination can also arise due to plants’ absorption of formaldehyde solution or vapors. When used for food, such crops can easily cause poisoning which can be fatal to humans. Use of meat from animals which have ingested the solution can also lead to health complications to humans.

While in transportation, formaldehyde can also expose the company, the society and employees to a lot of risks. This is because formaldehyde and the related solutions are explosive and can easily vaporize into space to form very explosive vapor. One of the major risks that can be exhibited during transportation is the occurrence of accidents during transportation. Such accidents can involve a transporting plane or track. Such accidents can be very fatal because they will enable release of formaldehyde gas into the air (Kleane & Sanders 2008, 56). This gaseous product spreads at high speeds to distances of up to 50 km and is very dangerous as it is very explosive. Though such accidents are rare, there is need to ensure that all loopholes that can lead to such are not available. Another risk factor related to transportation is the sinking of a sea vessel carrying formaldehyde. This will cause dissolution of this dangerous solution into water causing death of aquatic life. Such sinking can also cause escape of formaldehyde gas into space which also exposes a lot of humans to danger. Explosion of such gas can be catastrophic and can affect people up to 20 km square (Kleane & Sanders 2008, 19).

Due to transportation congestion and ups and downs, there can be accidental leakage of formaldehyde into the air from the transporting containers. Such an incident is dangerous as it will start by affecting the driver and any other individuals assisting in the transportation of the solution. This can lead to very dangerous accidents as the gaseous product released from the liquid will make the driver unconscious which will then lead to very catastrophic accidents. Release of the related gaseous product into the air during transportation is also dangerous as it can affect the surrounding environment to up to 50 km. This is very fatal to the residents at the estates and any other individual near the scene. The release of the related gaseous product can also lead to very large fires affecting individuals to up to 20 km. such fires can also lead to bush fires as it spreads very fast and can easily reach to a forest (Kleane & Sanders 2008, 45).

Though formaldehyde is a stable substance, it can easily be affected by high temperatures which will lead to its vaporization causing explosive fire. This makes it necessary to keep it in cool conditions to avoid such accidents (Gagliano et al 2008, 124).

Occurrence of fire and related risks resulting from the on-site preparation and transportation of formaldehyde has negative effect to the company, society, employees and even the government. Politically, the occurrence of such accidents will cause lack of government trust and faith in the company. Occurrence of any catastrophe from the company may cause the government force the company to relocate to areas far away from the residential plots. The government can also enforce high taxes on the businesses activities conducted by the company so that the company is restricted from transacting business freely to other countries and states. The government can also interrupt business by ensuring that they part of the shareholders to the company so that they can control business processes. This involvement can be seen as a better way to oversee business transactions and processing activities at the firm (Ansell & Wharton 1992, 19).

In consideration to the economic realm, occurrence of fire and accidents resulting from formaldehyde can be very disastrous. This is because the company and the neighboring community all depend on the company for survival. Burning of the company premises will lead to closure of the company and paralysis to all economic activities conducted by the company. Such an incident will also leave most of the estate inhabitants devastated as they all depend on the company for survival. The employees at the company together with those involved in supply of food and products to the workers at the company will all be affected by the collapse of the company. The government will also be affected as it will lose revenue generated from the daily running of the company. Such revenue is generated from tax and payment to official receipts and documents. Revenue is also generated from the employees working at the company in terms of income tax and related subscriptions for services. Loss of such a great deal of revenue will highly affect the government (Ansell & Wharton 1992, 92). Collapse of the company will also cause collapse of many economic activities in the country and also on the international market. All the companies dependent on the company for supply of formaldehyde will be affected and in turn affect the economic activities in the surrounding areas (Kleane & Sanders 2008, 64).

Occurrence of catastrophic accidents at the company or collapse of the company will also have negative impact on the social realm. This is basically because many families will lose their loved ones in such accidents. In most cases, such an occurrence leaves families very poor and desperate as those trapped by the accidents are mostly the only bread winners for their families (Ansell & Wharton 1992, 46).

Collapse of the company can also have negative impacts on the technological development of the country (Gagliano et al 2008, 146). This is basically because the existence of the company at the place is a great booster of technology as it borrows new technology from other countries and implements it at their premises. This improves technological development in the country to a great extent.

In consideration to the legislative realm, occurrence of catastrophic accidents at the company may cause changes to rules relating to storage and handling of chemicals and industrial processes. Such accidents can also cause changes to rules relating to the positioning of chemical related companies and any other processing company in general. Changes to rules relating to handling of chemicals can cause increase to transportation and storage costs of formaldehyde. This will increase the general running costs of the company which will lead to low profits. Low profitability will eventually lead to poor business performance which can eventually lead to closure of the company. It can also lead to retrenchment of workers from the company due to poor or delayed payments. Rules regarding the location of chemical related companies may cause relocation of the company to the industrial area or to other areas away from residential places (Dunn 2007, 67).

Chemical accidents have very negative impacts to the environment. This involves effects to plants in the surrounding, animals and the general atmosphere. To the plants, escape of vaporized formaldehyde can cause adverse effects as plants use air for their respiratory processes. To animals, release of chemicals into water can be fatal and catastrophic. It will lead to negative effects to their reproduction and can also cause massive deaths of the aquatic animals. Vaporized chemicals can also affect the animals in their respiratory tracts and can even cause death (Gagliano et al 2008, 12).

Occurrence of fire accidents at the company will also affect the company in such a way that it will not be effective in competing with other producers of the product nationally and internationally. A decline in the production of formaldehyde can easily lead to lose of customers to other competitors. Such a loss of customers can be difficult to recover due to formation of alliances between the competitors and the customer companies (Gagliano et al 2008, 19).

To the customers, an occurrence of major fire accidents at the company will limit regular supplies and will lead to loss of trust and can make the company be regarded as not being reliable (Ansell & Wharton 1992, 26). Closure of the company due to fire accidents can even be more disastrous to the customers as it will demand that they look for other suppliers of the product. This may take them time and can be difficult to accomplish. To the public, it will cause lack of employment and decline of economic activities in the area which will lead to poor living standards. Decline in operation at the company will also affect the shareholders as they will get reduced dividends at the end of that financial year. Closure of the company due to a fire incidence is yet another major blow to the shareholders and can cause a lot of challenges to their financial life (Dunn 2007, 78).

From the above assessment of the risks resulting from a fire occurrence, there is need that the company puts in place all possible measures to prevent fire occurrence at the premises or reduce on the effect of the fire if in any case it occurs (Gagliano et al 2008, 82). One of the measures to be put in place is to ensure that all workers put on all the required protective gear when at work. This will help reduce incidences of inhalation of the gaseous product and any contact with the skin. It will also help to protect employees from exposure to high pressure sprays of the solution due to breakage or leakage of pipes and containers. To add to this, all employees are supposed to be trained on how to deal with fire incidences involving chemicals. They are supposed to be taught on the possible fire-fighting tools to use and how to administer first-aid to fire victims.

Another preventive measure is the installation of fire-fighting equipment at strategic positions at the premises to enable easy fire-fighting in case one occurs. A remotely operated sprinkler for fire extinguishing is one of the most essential fire-fighting tolls that need to be installed at the premises (Dunn 2007, 83). The company is also to seek contacts from the nearby fire brigade office so that they can get quick rescue in case a fire incidence is reported from the company. The company is also supposed to train residents of the nearby estates on how to administer first aid to individuals who have been exposed to formaldehyde solution and vapor. Such contact can be made through contaminated air and contaminated water. Such training will help locals to preserve life before a victim is rushed to a hospital for proper medication (Ansell & Wharton 1992, 12).

Another safety precaution is to ensure that all storage containers and pipes are in good working conditions according to chemical storage standards (Gagliano et al 2008, 56). This will help minimize cases of leakages of the solution into air. In addition, the company is supposed to ensure that the transportation conditions for the solution are met before release of a track, a ship or a plane to transport the product. Such condition include cool conditions during transportation and air tight transportation containers. This is essential to prevent leakages during transportation and the associated risks (Dunn 2007, 46).

It is also important that the company puts in place the necessary fire detection and fire sensing systems that can help detect and report fire incidences in case a person is not near the fire source. Fire alarms, smoke signals and sensors that can detect changes in temperature are part of the essential equipment to be installed at the premises. In addition to this, the company is also supposed to put in place escape routes in case a fire occurs at the premises. The company is also supposed to come up with better ways of disposing waste products from the processing of formaldehyde. All these put in place will enable a better working environment at the company and in the surrounding regions (Dunn 2007, 16).

In conclusion, fire risks are seen to be very disastrous and can be very catastrophic. At chemical processing plants, fire or accidents can result from chemical spillages, leakages and explosion due to reactions or high pressure (Dunn 2007, 13). Occurrence of such fire is very dangerous because chemical fire spreads at very high speeds. This makes it important to ensure that safety measures are put in place to prevent fire occurrence and also reduce on the effect of fire in case it occurs. Such measures may include training workers on fire fighting, putting fire-fighting equipment in place and ensuring that containers and pipes transporting and storing the chemicals are in good condition. This is the ultimate solution to accidents and fire resulting from chemicals and thus the best practices to do at a formaldehyde processing plant (Gagliano et al 2008, 96).

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