If you work in an industrial facility and are tasked with handling waste management, it is important that you understand the risks of dumpster fires and fumes, particularly in the winter months. When snow melts, it creates hydrogen gas, which can cause fires and fumes when the hydrogen interacts with chemicals and materials in the dumpsters. Here's what you can do to prevent dumpster fires caused by melting snow.
Avoid placing flammable or explosive materials inside dumpsters
Do not allow employees to place flammable or explosive materials in dumpsters. If you need to dispose of these items and materials, contact the local Environmental Protection Agency office for advice on the proper methods of disposal for the various items and materials your facility needs to discard.
Keep a log of the items and materials that are placed in dumpsters
It's important to keep a readily available log of the contents of a dumpster directly on or near the dumpster. This is so that firefighters and first responders can quickly assess the situation so that they know what they are dealing with and which fire extinguishing methods to use in the case of a dumpster fire or explosion. Using the wrong type of extinguishing method can make the situation worse.
Develop & coordinate emergency response procedures with the local fire chief
Due to the risks of dumpster fires, it's important to work with the local fire chief to develop and coordinate procedures for your employees and for the fire department in case of a dumpster fire. The fire chief will need to have access to your facility grounds to develop a plan of attack. Depending on the scope of your facility's grounds and the types of materials typically placed in the dumpsters, the fire chief may recommend a pre-incident training drill for the fire fighters and your employees.
Construct a shelter to reduce the amount of snow that can accumulate on dumpsters
A shelter with a backwards-slanting roof over your dumpsters can keep snow from accumulating on the dumpsters. The shelter will need to be tall enough to meet the clearance requirements of the fire department and the dumpster rental service for when they come to pick up or replace the dumpsters. Err on the side of caution and have the snow accumulation behind the dumpster moved to a safer location to prevent the buildup of hydrogen gas in the immediate area.