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WAC 296-24-61799

Appendix AFixed extinguishing systems, general.

(1) Scope and application. This section contains the general requirements that are applicable to all fixed extinguishing systems installed to meet DOSH standards. It also applies to those fixed extinguishing systems, generally total flooding, which are not required by DOSH, but which, because of the agent's discharge, may expose employees to hazardous concentrations of extinguishing agents or combustion by-products. Employees who work around fixed extinguishing systems must be warned of the possible hazards associated with the system and its agent. For example, fixed dry chemical extinguishing systems may generate a large enough cloud of dry chemical particles that employees may become visually disoriented. Certain gaseous agents can expose employees to hazardous by-products of combustion when the agent comes into contact with hot metal or other hot surface. Some gaseous agents may be present in hazardous concentrations when the system has totally discharged because an extra rich concentration is necessary to extinguish deep-seated fires. Certain local application systems may be designed to discharge onto the flaming surface of a liquid, and it is possible that the liquid can splatter when hit with the discharging agent. All of these hazards must be determined before the system is placed into operation, and must be discussed with employees.
Based on the known toxicological effects of agents such as carbon tetrachloride and chlorobromomethane, DOSH is not permitting the use of these agents in areas where employees can be exposed to the agent or its side effects. However, chlorobromomethane has been accepted and may be used as an explosion suppression agent in unoccupied spaces. DOSH is permitting the use of this agent only in areas where employees will not be exposed.
(2) Distinctive alarm signals. A distinctive alarm signal is required to indicate that a fixed system is discharging. Such a signal is necessary on those systems where it is not immediately apparent that the system is discharging. For example, certain gaseous agents make a loud noise when they discharge. In this case, no alarm signal is necessary. However, where systems are located in remote locations or away from the general work area and where it is possible that a system could discharge without anyone knowing that it is doing so, then a distinctive alarm is necessary to warn employees of the hazards that may exist. The alarm can be a bell, gong, whistle, horn, flashing light, or any combination of signals as long as it is identifiable as a discharge alarm.
(3) Maintenance. The employer is responsible for the maintenance of all fixed systems, but this responsibility does not preclude the use of outside contractors to do such work. New systems should be subjected to an acceptance test before placed in service. The employer should invite the installer, designer, insurance representative and others to witness the test. Problems found during the test need to be corrected before the system is considered operational.
(4) Manual discharge stations. There are instances, such as for mechanical reasons and others, where the standards call for a manual backup activation device. While the location of this device is not specified in the standard, the employer should assume that the device should be located where employees can easily reach it. It could, for example, be located along the main means of egress from the protected area so that employees could activate the system as they evacuate the work area.
(5) Personal protective equipment. The employer is required to provide the necessary personal protective equipment to rescue employees who may be trapped in a totally flooded environment which may be hazardous to their health. The equipment would normally include a positive-pressure self-contained breathing apparatus and any necessary first-aid equipment. In cases where the employer can assure the prompt arrival of the local fire department or plant emergency personnel which can provide the equipment, this can be considered as complying with the standards.
[Statutory Authority: RCW 49.17.010, 49.17.040, 49.17.050, and 49.17.060. WSR 15-24-100, § 296-24-61799, filed 12/1/15, effective 1/5/16. Statutory Authority: RCW 49.17.040 and 49.17.050. WSR 82-02-003 (Order 81-32), § 296-24-61799, filed 12/24/81.]
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