Pesticide Storage Fire Preparation

While everyone would like to avoid a fire in a pesticide storage area, waiting to prepare until a fire incident occurs is too late. There are a number of steps to take to help avoid or to mitigate injury, losses, or contamination that might occur if there is a fire at your pesticide storage facility.


First, consider what preplanning needs to be done.

  • Designate one person as the emergency coordinator.
  • Post a list of names and phone numbers in the office, shop, and truck of response agencies that may require notification.
  • Create a form or an outline of critical information to give to emergency personnel that might include the name, quantity, and classification of pesticides in storage. Keep it with the calling list. Be sure to include: the name of the person reporting the incident; the precise location of the incident; and a general description of what happened.
  • Have a written sequence of steps to take in case of fire and train your employees.

Know proper storage requirements

Applicators and business owners and managers must know and follow requirements for proper pesticide storage.

  • Pesticide storage areas should be located away from where people and animals live to the extent possible.
  • Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) must be kept on hand for all pesticides in storage, but the SDS sheets should not be kept in the storage area.
  • Keep an up-to-date pesticide inventory list in a location separate from the actual pesticide storage area.
  • Have a fire detection system installed.
  • To aid first responders, make a map showing chemical storage areas, bulk tanks, water, and electricity cutoffs, fencing, fuel tanks, drainage ditches, wells, and surface water. As with the SDSs and inventory, keep the map in an accessible location but apart from the storage area.
  • Train your employees on how to execute the response plan, including where PPE is located, how to use a fire extinguisher, and where to rendezvous if people need to evacuate.
  • Within the storage area, store flammable and non-flammable pesticides apart from each other and store combustible pesticides away from steam lines and heaters.
  • Have a plan to contain runoff so that it does not enter streams or ponds.

In the event of fire

If a fire does occur in your pesticide storage area, prompt action is needed.

  • Sound the alarm and evacuate employees from the premises; rendezvous at a designated location.
  • Call 911, and then call the emergency coordinator for your business.
  • Have people and animals stay up wind of the fire to reduce exposure to smoke and fumes.
  • Do not attempt to extinguish a fire without protective equipment and self-contained breathing device.
  • When emergency personnel arrive, provide them with the inventory, Safety Data Sheets, and the map of the facility to help with their response.
  • Establish a perimeter to discourage bystanders.
  • Be certain that water and leaked chemicals are contained; building soil berms may be necessary.
  • For large fire, it may be better to back off and let it burn rather than use large amounts of water that could contaminate the area.
  • Be sure to make all necessary regulatory calls to state and federal agencies.
  • Afterward, wash all equipment and yourself; change clothing promptly.

By Ric Bessin, Entomology Extension Specialist

Posted in Pesticide Topics
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