Basics of fire protection

Basics of Fire Protection

When you work with highly flammable or otherwise hazardous materials, you have a duty to ensure that they are stored in safe conditions and in compliance with the law. Legislators demand that the strictest fire protection regulations be adhered to to protect people and the environment. Therefore, you should inform yourself at an early stage about the various requirements and define measures that best prevent fire risks. 

In our practical guide we identify the fire safety aspects that should be considered in your risk assessment and which national and international regulations and standards play a role.

Fire protection: definition and important terms

Fire protection refers to the measures put in place to (a) prevent the emergence and spread of a fire (b) to ensure the safety of people and animals and (c) the measures put in place to ensure effective fire extinguishing in the event of a fire.

When planning a hazardous goods warehouse, preventive fire protection must be taken into account, in order to minimize possible fire hazards due to the stored substances in advance or to prepare measures for effective fire fighting in the event of an emergency. It is divided into structural, technical and organizational measures:

Structural Fire Protection 

  • Division into fire sections*
  • Requirements for building materials and components 
  • Fire resistance 
  • Safety distances
Technical Fire Protection

  • Fire alarm systems
  • Automatic extinguishing systems
  • Fire water supply
  • Smoke and heat exhaust systems 
Organisational Fire Protection 

  • Alarm Plans
  • Fire Safety Regulations
  • Escape and rescue plans
  • Identification
  • Drills 

In order to define and implement suitable fire protection measures, you should first of all know the dangers that can be expected in your company. Is there any risk of fire due to dangerous substances in the company? If such a fire hazard exists, how high is this? All this should be determined in your risk assessment.

Identifying a Fire Hazard

A risk assessment should be carried out for all operations in which activities with flammable or oxidizing hazardous substances are used. Especially with regard to identifying fire hazards and the measures needed to eliminate risks from hazardous materials.

1  Collect information - the risk assessment

Before work is carried out, employers must assess the fire risks that may be caused by dangerous substances. This should be carried out as part of a risk assessment and by a competent, trained professional.

All relevant factors for the rise, spread and impact of a fire must be considered. These include the dangers for employees from smoke, other (toxic) fire products, heat and the failure of components. For a good overview, here are some handy questions to ask yourself:

To the hazardous substances present during operation
Are activities carried out with combustible or oxidizing hazardous substances or can flammable or oxidizing hazardous substances be generated or released during activities?
Is there a possibility of a substitution of hazardous substances or a process change in operations which would help minimize the risk?
At which locations, in which quantities and in which state are flammable or oxidizing hazardous substances present?
Which dangerous properties do the hazardous substances have, which fire hazard results from this, and which follow-on products are to be expected?

Our tip: Consult the safety data sheets. These contain important safety-related information from the supplier regarding the respective substances. In the assessment, it should be taken into account that deviating test parameters may be the basis, depending on the test method.

Which physicochemical properties and safety parameters do the flammable substances have?

E.g. For solids / dusts: minimum ignition temperature of a layer of dust (smoldering temperature), smoldering point, auto-ignition temperature, burning point, ignition temperature
E.g. For liquids: flash point, focus, ignition temperature
E.g. For gases: flammability, explosive limits, minimum ignition energy, combustion rate

To the operational and local conditions 
What is the influence of working equipment or systems and their operation?
How do structural, local and operational conditions as well as working conditions, organization and environment affect the fire risk?
Are there possible interactions?
How is the fire hazard to be assessed taking into account various operating conditions?

These include: normal operation, commissioning and decommissioning of equipment or work equipment, breakdowns, foreseeable improper operation.
Are there operating conditions that require separate measures?

These include: maintenance (maintenance, inspection, repair, improvement) and the commissioning and decommissioning of safety equipment.
Which persons are to be expected locally and in which number?
Are special working conditions (for example long or confusing escape routes or scaffolding work) to be taken into account?
How fast can the fire department be on site and what equipment does it have?
How should the physical boundary conditions be assessed?

E.g. Temperature, air flows, humidity, room volume, room area, room height

Possible sources of ignition
Are works carried out with an open flame or high temperatures?
Can ignition sources be generated by improper operating conditions?
Are there any effects from electrical, mechanical, chemical and / or thermal energy?
How effective are the ignition sources?

On licensing and other requirements
Which building regulations requirements are required with regard to preventive and defensive fire protection?
Are requirements already known from previous reports?

E.g. from fire safety reports, fire protection concepts according to the building permit, risk assessments, safety reports according to accident regulations, etc.

2  Determine protective measures

Employers must put control measures in place to eliminate risks from dangerous substances, or reduce them as far as is reasonably practicable.

The best solution is to eliminate the risk completely by replacing the dangerous substance with another substance, or using a different work process, but in practice this may be difficult to achieve. Where it is not possible to eliminate the risk completely employers must take measures to control risks and reduce the severity of the effects of any harmful event. 

When the risk cannot be eliminated, control measures should be applied in the following priority order:

  • Reduce the quantity of dangerous substances to a minimum
  • Avoid or minimize releases of dangerous substances
  • Control releases of dangerous substances at source
  • Prevent the formation of a dangerous atmosphere
  • Collect, contain and remove any releases to a safe place (e.g. through ventilation)
  • Avoid ignition sources
  • Avoid adverse conditions that could lead to danger 
  • Keep incompatible substances apart

In addition to control measures, employers should put mitigation measures in place. These measures should be consistent with the risk assessment and appropriate to the nature of the operation and include: 

  • Reducing the number of employees exposed to the risk
  • Providing plant that is explosion resistant
  • Providing plant that is corrosion resistant
  • Providing explosion suppression or explosion relief equipment
  • Taking measures to control or minimize the spread of fires or explosions
  • Providing suitable PPE

3  Devise emergency plans & procedures

Arrangements must be made to deal with emergencies. These plans and procedures should cover safety drills and suitable communication and warning systems and should be in proportion to the risks. If an emergency occurs, workers tasked with carrying out repairs or other necessary work must be provided with the appropriate equipment to allow them to carry out this work safely.

The information in the emergency plans and procedures must be made available to the emergency services to allow them to develop their own plans if necessary. 

Employees must also be provided with the relevant information, instructions, and training. This includes:

  • The dangerous substances present in the workplace and the risks they present including access to any relevant safety data sheets and information on any other legislation that applies
  • The findings of the risk assessment and the control measures put in place
  • Emergency procedures
  • Avoid dangerous quantities or concentrations of hazardous substances that could lead to fire or explosion hazards
  • Avoid ignition sources or other concentrations of hazardous substances that could lead to fire or explosions
  • Reduce as far as possible the effects of fires or explosions on the health and safety of workers and other persons

For example, when planning a hazardous goods warehouse, observe the following aspects (note: the above-mentioned measures in case of increased or high risk of fire are partly mutually reinforcing.) Measures with high risk of fire can replace the measures with increased risk of fire):

Increased fire hazard
- in addition to basic duties -
High fire hazard 
- in addition to basic duties -
Structural Fire Protection Spatial separation through safety or safety distances

Fire safety adequately dimensioned structural separation

Possibly. Increased stability through adequate fire resistance

Use of a tight enclosure with increased resistance (e.g., hazardous goods packaging)

Distribution of fire-hazardous substances into fire-resistant, separated areas

Fire protection dimensioning of the enclosures as part of the sytem

Use of double-walled systems

Increased stability through adequate fire resistance

Provision of catchment areas, restraint systems, drainage in a safe area

Plant Fire Protection

Avoidance of ignition sources

Use of measuring, control and regulating devices (Temperature monitoring, automatic shutdown)

Adequate lightning and surge protection (internal, external)

Appropriate fire detection

Smoke and heat extraction systems

Equipment for smoke extraction, smoke section formation

If necessary, have special extinguishing agents ready

Video surveillance for early fire detection

Avoid the entry of ignition sources into the interior of systems by technical measures

Inerting, oxygen reduction

Area-wide or property-related fire alarm system (BMA) with fire control and alarming of employees or the fire department

Alerting (through technical equipment such as visual-acoustic alerting, etc.)

Increased stability through cooling, sprinkling systems

Extinguishing systems

Leak detection
Organizational Fire Protection Avoidance of ignition sources

Use of personal protective equipment to avoid ignition sources

Compliance with special requirements

Ban on fire and naked lights, no smoking

Use of work permit procedures (when working with an open flame, working with pure oxygen)

Prohibition of working alone

Ensure adequate oversight

Control for early fire detection through tours or the presence of staff

Organizational fire protection and extinguishing measures

Training an increased number of workers to fight fires

Shortening of escape routes, additional emergency exits, additional escape routes

Evacuation exercises

Establishing collection points
Access control

Coordinated fire-fighting measures

Assigning people to organize the escape from the building

Creation of protection areas



4  Check effectiveness of protective measures

In the context of the risk assessment, the effectiveness of the protective measures must also be checked. Since this is difficult in practice before the occurrence of an actual fire, a theoretical assessment must be used. The selected protective measures are to be examined to see whether they can be expected individually or in combination the desired success - but also to investigate possible negative interactions. As soon as there are procedural changes or other relevant changes, the risk assessment must be updated and, if necessary, the fire protection measures adjusted. Technical protective measures must also be subjected to regular functional tests. According to TRGS 800, these must be carried out every three years or at shorter intervals if this has been determined as the result of the risk assessment. The results of the risk assessment and the regular functional tests must be documented in a suitable form.

Hazardous substances and fire protection

Especially when it comes to fire protection in connection with the storage of hazardous substances, special potential hazards arising from the stored substances have to be taken into account. In addition to the individual risk assessment, companies can also obtain specific information on fire protection measures from various regulations dealing with the safe storage and handling of hazardous substances.

You're on the safe side with DENIOS fire protection storage

Anyone who stores hazardous substances has to consider the possible fire hazards and the numerous regulations that surround it. Building regulations must be met and specific requirements for the storage of hazardous materials also play a role. But it is also very important to ensure the safety of people and the environment, and with DENIOS as your partner you are in safe hands.

Our fire proof room systems are designed to hold back fire for up to 2 hours, giving you time to take any necessary further precautions to ensure the safety of your staff and facilities. We manufacture products specifically tailored to your needs, which are internationally tested and certified as a complete system offering reliable fire protection both inside and out. And because fire protection is a holistic topic, our expert team ensures all-round service in the usual DENIOS quality.

Solutions for every requirement.

We know exactly what is required in practice. From needs-based storage capacity and extensive equipment options to solutions for all fire protection classes required in the USA: Here you will find products that are optimally tailored to your needs: walk-in fire protection warehouses and shelf storage systems.

The technical information on this page has been prepared carefully and to the best of our knowledge and belief. Nevertheless, DENIOS can not assume any warranty or liability whatsoever, whether contractual, tortious or in any other way, for its timeliness, completeness and accuracy neither in relation to the recipient of this magazine nor third parties. The use of information and content for your own or other purposes is at your own risk. In any case, observe the local and current legislation.