Section 4.0: Housekeeping and Inspections


Recognition and prompt correction of housekeeping hazards is imperative to fire safety efforts. This section is provided for the identification of hazards.


4.1. An area or site-specific checklist targeting known or anticipated housekeeping items and fire hazards should be developed for each department.
4.2. Housekeeping inspections should be documented and corrective action taken on all discrepancies noted.
4.3. To minimize fire hazards, trash removal must be done regularly and in accordance with the rate of generation.  Dedicated and appropriate containers for trash removal must be provided and in place.
4.4. Unnecessary combustible materials must be identified and removed from the workplace to reduce the potential for fire.
4.5. Spills and loose materials (for example, parts, waste items, etc.) must be promptly removed from all floor areas.
4.6. Avoid leaning materials and poor piling practices.
4.7. Empty pallets can pose several hazards.  In addition to being combustible, pallets which are improperly stored on their edge or side may fall or tip over and strike personnel or equipment.  Pallets must be stored in stacks six feet high or less in a dedicated location.  Pallets should not be left blocking aisleways, egress points, emergency equipment, etc.  Damaged pallets should be removed from use promptly and properly discarded.
4.8. Designated areas should be established for smoking.  These areas must be located away from flammable and/or combustible materials.


Assigned Area: ________________________________________
Assigned Supervisor: ___________________________________
Inspection Date: _______________________________________

X Item Comments / Deficiencies
  Are all Worksites clean and orderly?  
  Are all exits kept free of obstructions?  
  Are all exits marked with an exit sign and illuminated by a reliable light source?  
  Are aisleways kept clear to allow unhindered passage?  
  Are combustible scrap, debris, and waste materials (for example, oily rags) stored in covered metal receptacles and removed from the worksite promptly?  
  Are all flammable liquids kept in closed containers when not in use (for example, parts, cleaning tanks, pans)?  
  Are all extinguishers free from obstructions or blockage?  
  Are "No Smoking" rules followed in areas involving storage and use of flammable materials?  
  Are all spilled materials or liquids cleaned up immediately?  
  Are all work areas adequately illuminated?  
  Are emergency telephone numbers posted where they can be readily found in case of emergency?  

Inspection Reference

Periodic fire inspections should be established for each operation and/or department. Some buildings, operations, and processes require daily inspections while others can be inspected weekly, monthly, or at other intervals.

All inspections should be documented using some type of inspection checklist. It is important to correct deficiencies by following up immediately with corrective action. Inspection reports should be maintained for recordkeeping purposes.

Department managers and supervisors have the responsibility for assuring that their work area is maintained according to the plant fire safety rules and practices.

An inspection may include some of the items found below.


Fire Doors:

Are all the fire doors in good condition? If there are defects, (for example, torn or bent metal or warped, broken or rotten wooden core), then a door is not in good condition. Any such door should be replaced or repaired.

Obstructions: Is there anything to hinder the door from completely closing? Storage, piping, wiring, and a variety of other conditions can often obstruct the movement of a fire door. If a fire door cannot be completely closed, it cannot effectively retard the spread of fire. Move each door through its full travel to ensure that it closes freely. Binders should hold a fully-closed door tightly to the wall.

Automatic Devices: All automatic closing devices should be in proper operating condition. Fusible links should be unpainted and in the path of potential heat from both sides. Weights, chains, ropes, and sheaves should be free to operate.

Check electrically- or pneumatically-actuated devices to ensure proper operation during emergencies.

Heating Systems:

All heater areas must be clean. There should be no storage or trash accumulation in boiler, furnace, or heating-system rooms.

All heating equipment, including vent pipes and chimneys, should be in good operating condition. Furnace and boiler controls, limit switches, fuel piping, and wiring should be properly maintained and serviced. Vents and smoke pipes should be tight and clear of combustible materials, except where protected by insulating devices.

Evacuation / Life Safety:

Please refer to Exits" Section.

Electrical Equipment


All wiring should be in good condition, properly supported, and adequately protected from physical damage. Be sure that extension and appliance cords are the correct size and not frayed or worn.

All wires must be properly attached to fixtures, plugs, circuit breakers and other equipment. Make-shift wiring must not be allowed.

Box Covers:

All junction, switch, outlet, and panelboard boxes should have properly secured covers.


Each circuit must have a fuse or breaker of no-greater-rated capacity than the circuit conductor.


To help prevent overheating, all motors must be free from accumulations of dust, oil, fibers, etc.

Note any condition that might require repair, whether or not it has been specifically covered by the preceding items.

Please refer to Electrical Equipment Section.

Flammable Liquids

Safety Cans:

Safety cans should be used for storing and dispensing flammable liquids. All should be sound, without dents and cracks. Spring-loaded caps or covers should fit tightly with strong springs. Flame arrestors (strainers) should be in place and free of breaks or cracks.


Storage rooms and areas surrounding storage cabinets must be clean and contain no storage other than flammable liquids. Proper grounding and bounding must be used for flammable dispensing rooms.

Spraying and Dipping Areas:

There should be no accumulations of paint residue or other trash. The entire area must be kept free of all combustible materials. Filters and drip trays should be regularly cleaned or replaced.

Quantities at Work Site:

Not more than one day's supply of flammable liquids should be allowed outside a flammable liquid storage room or cabinet.

Please refer to Flammable & Combustible Materials Section.


Trash Removal:

Waste and trash should be removed on a scheduled basis, eliminating the possibility of excess trash being present in the building at any one time.


All stock should be stored on or in storage racks. Stock should be at least four (4) inches off the floor (to minimize potential water damage) and clear of any heating, electrical, and fire protection equipment.

Adequate aisle space should be maintained to provide plant and fire department personnel with easy access to all parts of the building. There should be ample floor drains, free of obstructions, to carry water away from stock and equipment.

Welding & Cutting

An in-house hot-work permit system should be used where welding or cutting is to be performed.

All gas cylinders should be chained to a cart or wall. Spare cylinders should not be present. Electrical arc equipment should be safely arranged and well maintained. Spare oxygen and fuel gas cylinders should be stored in separate areas. (Flashback arrestors must be placed on all oxygen and fuel gas connections.)

Please refer to the Hot Work Permit Section.

Smoking Controls

If smoking is prohibited, are "No Smoking" signs readily visible throughout the facilities? Indicate whether or not areas are designated where smoking is allowed. If smoking is permitted, ample ash trays should be provided in the area(s).

Note whether or not there is any evidence of smoking in areas where it is not permitted.


Incinerators, including stacks and foundations, must be properly maintained. It is important that the spark arrester screen at the top of the stack stops burning embers from escaping into the air. Excess ashes should be removed regularly from the ash or fire box. Charging door tracks, sheaves, and cables must be free to operate, with properly-sized weights. The trash receiving room and all its protective devices must also be properly maintained.

Alarm Systems

The alarm system should be visually inspected. Testing should be the responsibility of thoroughly trained employees or an outside alarm service company. However, you should review these test records as part of your inspection.

Inspect alarm devices for proper location, mechanical or electrical damage, painted or covered surfaces, loading, or damage due to a corrosive atmosphere. Wiring should be in good condition and solidly fastened.

Control panels should be in a safe location and readily accessible. The "power on" light should be lit, and all trouble lights and signals should be off. Service and test records should be in the panel enclosure. When emergency power is required, batteries should be fully charged. Equipment should be free from dirt or grit that can find its way into delicate parts and contacts.

Manual alarm stations should also be inspected for signs of any problems. Wiring should be secure and in good condition and there should be no tape, wire, string, or other encumbrance to the effective use of the system. The stations should be located along natural egress paths, near exits.

Check alarm bells or gongs to see if they have been tampered with, painted, or damaged. Check records to determine that required servicing and testing has been done. Review records of all supervisory signal systems and alarm signal systems. Detection systems for actuating special extinguishing systems usually are serviced per a contract with an outside service company.

Back to Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Getting Started
Survey Checklists

Reference Guide

Appendix I
Sources of Information & Assistance

Appendix II

Appendix III
Review of Basic Fire Hazards

Appendix IV
Facility Survey

Appendix V
Selected NFPA Reference Codes

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