Safety First! Tips to Reduce Fire Risk on the Roof
Dry outdoor conditions increase the risk of static electricity and solvent based products release vapors that may be unexpectedly ignited by spark or static discharge. Most reports of solvent flash fires involve bonding adhesives, steel decks, isocyanurate insulation, and single-ply membranes. Static charge can be created by dragging insulation boards across each other, moving membrane sheets across insulation, even from walking on the insulation or insulated roof. Removing the factory-applied release liner from self-adhering GenFlex membranes also has the potential to generate static electricity.
- Here are a few measures that can be taken by roofing crews and others working on roofs to reduce the release of static charge and minimize the risk of fires:
- Wear all cotton clothing. Synthetics like nylon and polyester build up static more easily.
- Use care when removing release liners and discharge static from your body before handling solvent based adhesives and primers.
- Verify with the building owner that all electrical lines and the building have been properly grounded.
- Use care when moving equipment and materials on the roof. Try not to drag insulation boards, membrane, electrical cords, even your feet across insulation board facers.
- Maintain awareness that since solvent vapors are generally heavier than air, they may concentrate in low lying areas and can be ignited by sparks, heaters, electrical motors, flame, smoking, etc.
- Always consult Safety Data Sheets for product-specific safety measures.
And of course, always follow proper fire extinguisher protocols and be ready to respond to emergencies.