Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 97-159, (HC 21), 1997 Oct; :1-3
Methods for controlling the fire hazards associated with petroleum based dry cleaning solvents were reviewed in this document. Dry cleaning shops contained fuels, ignition sources, and oxygen, all of the components needed for uncontrolled fires. Highly flammable petroleum based solvents were used by about 10% of the dry cleaning shops in the United States. Possible ignition sources included a burning or smoldering cigarette, heated equipment, a frictional spark within the solvent reclaimer cage, and static electricity. Common fire safety measures, such as occupancy limits, building egress systems, fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, and fire suppression systems, were useful for controlling the extent of fire damage. Means of preventing fires in dry cleaning shops using petroleum based solvents included newly developed safer solvents and machines, work area features, fire safety systems, and combustible liquid handling techniques. New petroleum based solvents with higher flashpoints were less likely to ignite or explode than petroleum based solvents with lower flashpoints. The application of vacuum technology, inert gases, and machine operating parameters control to petroleum based dry cleaning machines reduced the risk of both fire and explosion. Building features which helped to control fire hazards included a no smoking policy, well maintained escape routes, a separate dry cleaning area, floors and ceilings composed of fire resistant materials, and an emergency drainage system in rooms containing petroleum based solvents. Useful fire safety systems included automatic wet pipe sprinkler systems, easily accessible and portable fire extinguishers, and routine maintenance for the removal of ignitable clutter. Proper handling of combustible liquids involved installing dry cleaning and tank storage rooms on the lowest floor above grade, keeping containers of flammable or combustible petroleum based solvents well closed, and monitoring the generation and accumulation of static electricity.